Tissues at the ready. Ted Lasso is back and ready to make us cry, laugh, and wish we had English accents. This emotional roller coaster of a comedy was exactly the kind of wholesome medicine we needed during the pandemic, so it’s no surprise that Apple TV+’s original series has earned itself a record-breaking 20 Emmy nominations for season one and has the No.1 viewership spot on the streaming service. Premiering on July 15th, Ted Lasso reminds us that, for a show about an English soccer team, it’s hardly about the sport at all.
This premiere comes notably after England’s recent 3-2 loss against Italy in the 2020 UEFA Euro championship. Following the loss, Jason Sudeikis (We’re The Millers) shared his support for the three Black soccer players – Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka – that received racist and abusive online comments after they missed their penalty kicks in the final shoot-out of the game. Sudeikis wore a sweater that said “Jadon & Marcus & Bukayo” on the front to the Season 2 premiere in solidarity with the players.
Now, in this season two kick-off episode, titled “Goodbye Earl,” it looks like Sudeikis’s portrayal of the titular character Ted Lasso is just as supportive on the screen as he is in real life.
Loved by all, Lasso navigates between being a charming southern American transplant in England with an infectious outlook on life and AFC Richmond’s head soccer coach. He’s constantly taking everyone he meets by surprise with his disarmingly positive one-liners and genuine joy. When season one arrived, it took viewers by surprise too. Finally, a comedy whose protagonist wasn’t some down-on-their-luck wannabe comedian or clueless Dad. This was someone we all wanted to root for and even aspire to be like. Simply put, there’s no one else on television as equally heartwarming, insightful, and passionate as Lasso. It’s this sentimental performance that stole viewer’s hearts and earned Sudeikis a season one Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series.
At the start of the episode, Lasso has damage control to do after one of his star players, Danny Rojas (Cristo Fernández), accidentally kills a dog after the animal jumped in front of the net during a penalty kick. Talk about bad timing. But in true Lasso fashion, he can turn a nightmare scenario into a tear-jerking scene. During a press conference about the incident, he tells the reporters a tale about losing his childhood dog which leads to one of the most memorable quotes of the episode:
“It’s funny to think about the things in your life that can make you cry just knowing that they existed can then become the same thing that can make you cry knowing that they’re now gone.”
Thanks, Ted. Now we’re all crying.
For most of the episode, Lasso is flanked by his dutiful team of co-coaches, or the “Diamond Dogs” as they loved referring to themselves in season one. Brendan Hunt (We’re The Millers) doubles as a writer for the show and also plays Coach Beard, the dry-humored American that is often Lasso’s reality check. On the England side, there’s Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed, Intelligence), last season’s underdog that rose from assistant to co-coach, and Leslie Higgins (Jeremy Swift, Downton Abbey) the team director whose clumsiness and whimsical attitude is a ray of light.
To help Rojas cope with the haunting guilt of his fatal penalty kick accident, Lasso’s crew suggests he hire a therapist to get Rojas over the hump. Lasso is apprehensive. He’s been through couple’s therapy before and didn’t have a positive experience, but nevertheless obliges. Thus enters Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles, The Crucible), a reserved and highly professional therapist that speaks multiple languages, and her self-contained demeanor can’t be broken by Lasso’s charm. Lasso isn’t warming up to her either, but after seeing the incredible work she’s doing on his team, maybe he will consider whether he could benefit from her expertise.
Meanwhile, the team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham, Game of Thrones), is getting excited about a new romantic interest in her life and recruits her friend and team publicist Keely Jones (Juno Temple, Killer Joe) to help her navigate the dating waters. Keely and her boyfriend Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, SuperBob), a retired footballer for Richmond, go on a double date with Welton and her new boo and it does not go well. Simply put, this guy is a dud. After the date, Kent says it best:
“You deserve someone that makes you feel like you’ve been struck by f*cking lightning. Don’t you dare settle for ‘fine.’”
Kent’s been on a journey of his own since he retired from soccer and is now coaching a U-9 girls team. It’s going to be interesting to see what his journey to finding fulfillment will look like off the field, especially after he angrily saw his egotistical soccer nemesis Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster, Strike Back) on a dating show at the tail end of the episode.
It feels nearly impossible for there to be a bad episode of Ted Lasso, and this season is already proving to be just as therapeutic as the last. Seeing each character popping up on the screen is like seeing an old family member you’ve missed dearly. Now, the whole gang is back and it feels like home.