Series: Review of “Ted Lasso – Season 2”, by Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence (Apple TV +)

The first season of TED LASSO It was a surprise, a revelation. Starting with a simple joke, which started in a few commercials and didn’t seem to be able to extend much more than that (a movie, at the most), Jason Sudeikis and his team of collaborators achieved something that seemed impossible: a very good series built around of an excellent character whose greatest particularity was to be … a good person. It doesn’t seem like a very complicated thing to do, at first, but at some point it is: how do you establish seasons and seasons of dramatic events and problems with someone who, by all accounts, appears to be a simple, straightforward, sincere, human, lovable guy? , generous? And part of the success of the season was given by that. In the midst of a pandemic that brought out the worst versions of many of us, Lasso was a balm of kindness, almost proof that it made sense to continue to believe in mankind.

It was evident that this magic had to give way to something else, complicate the matter so that it did not turn on itself, on the peculiarity of having a simple North American of the «midwest»Trying to understand how to be the technical director of a team – the fictional AFC Richmond – of a sport that, shortly before arriving in England, he hardly knew. These differences (in addition to others linked to cultural clashes between Americans and British) were losing space and the second season was centered, on the one hand, making Ted’s life a bit more complicated and, on the other, opening the game even more to other characters. of the series that until that moment had had a minor development. What is said, transform to TED LASSO in what is called “an ensemble comedy.”

Thus, the second season loses compared to the first for various reasons. The first is that the other protagonists of the series are not as charismatic as Lasso, except for the now ex-player Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and the owner of the team, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham). And even if they were, some of them were entangled in plots and issues that did not generate much interest. But this, we agree, is a minor problem. Every series has subplots with less interest than the one we assume central.

The second problem, something that is revealed more than anything in the second half of the season, is to leave aside the simple and charismatic Lasso to turn him into a more complex character, with his personal problems, his panic attacks and his fears and back and forth when it comes to dealing with it. In theory, that twist makes sense (there is no one who is as “pure” as the Ted of the first season), but the type of conflicts that the writers gave him does not escape the clichés and conventions of the genre, turning him into a character practically like many others, from many other series. A guy, ahem, “tortured.”

The appearance of a therapist, Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles), a less interesting character than she should be, only brought to the fore the need to talk all the time, in one way or another, about traumas and problems. characters of the protagonists, without twists or ambiguities, as if therapy were a kind of magic potion that reveals conflicts in minutes and in some cases even resolves them. It is true that TED LASSO it plays, as a series, a bit from almost “magical” innocence when it comes to handling certain matters (there is a Christmas episode, without going any further), but at times that went against the psychological disturbance and darkness that was sought.

In any case, it is a series that has not completely lost its appeal, especially the one linked to the world in which the characters move. Although the game itself had less space than in the previous season, this was not necessarily a problem since, let’s agree, the handling of the football theme in the series is always a bit clunky. Intentionally, I know, but clumsy in the end. Lasso’s charisma continues to sustain the series – even though its references to pop culture are a repeated joke – well underpinned by the aforementioned Roy and Rebecca, despite the fact that she was lucky enough to have a very limited subplot linked to a endless romantic chat with, SPOILER ALERT, a Richmond player. Roy and Keeley (Juno Temple), on the other hand, have much better chemistry and it is very well used here, especially from their ups and downs.

The other characters – except for some very minor characters like Cristo «Dani Rojas» Fernández – were involved in abrupt and in some cases unpleasant subplots, such as Nathan Shelley, whose monstrous side (and his sudden mood swings) were between excessive and stereotyped in terms of transforming him into an unexpected comic book villain. Others, like “Coach” Beard, the prolific executive Leslie or the capricious Jamie Tartt had their special episodes or segments that, in fact, did not contribute much. In the long run, almost all of the characters’ affairs were tied to parent-child problems and trauma (from Ted to Nate, from Rebecca to Jamie, almost everyone has daddy issues) somewhat limiting the dramatic possibilities of the series.

By transforming Ted Lasso into a character like so many, making him give a speech on “mental health in sport,” the series lost much of its exceptionality and became awkwardly “up-to-date.” I have the feeling that the current multicultural climate does not invite to have a protagonist who is male, white, American, kind and from the old guard because, well, this is not the time for that type of shows. It is said that there have been hundreds and hundreds of series throughout the history of TV about middle-aged white men and it is time for other types of characters. There is some truth in that, it is undeniable, but it should not be an obligation or a requirement that covers all series. And Lasso was an exception because of his character old fashioned, almost nostalgic with respect to a series model and an “old-fashioned” protagonist. And it worked fine. As they say in football, a winning team is not changed. Here, the coach reached into the fictional substitute bench and Richmond can win games but they no longer play as well as before. Anyway, he still has a chance to win the league… from the TV series.