Jason Sudeikis calls Ted Lasso reception ‘overwhelming and really incredible’ ahead of season 2 debut
Last year, as the world braced itself for the effects of a pandemic, political turmoil and the ongoing battle for social justice – all things that consequently made us feel tired, anxious and scared – a lovely show landed on our very tired laps to give us a little relief. It’s a comedy that has a heart and a leading character who lived every day to remind us that love and acceptance is the only way to live your life.
Ted Lasso – television’s version of chicken soup – premiered on Apple TV. Nobody, including yours truly, expected it to be that popular and inspirational. It was my last review for Sports Illustrated before joining CBS Sports and it ended up being one of my favorite pieces. The world would eventually concur. The piece also included a chat with Jason Sudeikis, who like me, was cautiously waiting to see how Ted Lasso would be received.
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Fast forward to the anticipated debut of season two and it’s fair to say that Ted Lasso has become a global revelation. From a Golden Globe win for Sudeikis for Best Actor, to Peabody and Critics Choice awards for best show, Ted Lasso – the charismatic, adorably naive Kansan – became the much needed antidote to – excuse my French – an unbelievably shitty year. The show became our remedy and we welcomed it into our lives.
Twitter became that much brighter whenever someone would tweet how they just discovered Ted Lasso and the rest of us collectively said, “we told you so!”
Last week, for example, was probably the cherry on top when Rebecca Mix, an author from Michigan had just discovered the show and proceeded to write an incredible thread to salute its glory.
So, as the world eagerly waits for the second season and AFC Richmond’s fate in the Championship, I sat down with Jason once again (this time, alongside his Second City and Boom Chicago lifelong friend and comedic partner Brendan Hunt, who is also the show’s co-creator and plays Coach Beard) and asked him if he expected the incredible global reception the show has received?
“Heck no,” says Sudeikis, speaking to CBS Sports. “Stay hungry, stay humble, you know. I thought someone would like it cause I thought we made a good show, something we were proud of….you know both of us [Sudeikis and Hunt] being from the midwest, if we make something that our friends and family will like, then a certain amount of people will like it…but no, the response the show has had, culturally, critically, personally for us has been overwhelming and really incredible.”
“I think I expected a bigger reaction,” says Hunt, as we begin to laugh. “I’m a little disappointed that people haven’t caught on as much as I thought they would. I thought we’d have an Oscar and a Grammy by now….but I guess we’ll just keep doing this.”
He is of course joking but the sentiment remains. The show is that good, it probably deserved an Oscar and Grammy at some point.
We love Ted Lasso because it stripped itself away from the cynicism of today’s fast-paced, digital rat race and instead chose to follow the words of Walt Whitman, “be curious, not judgmental.”
There is also another part to it. Ted Lasso is an internal journey of self-discovery. The first season, for example, places the main character in an existential journey: Who is Ted Lasso? Why is he in Richmond, coaching a game he knows nothing about? How can he turn his life around in the strangest of places? In the end, that narrative arc took you to Ted’s struggles with his personal life but in the end, by the use of inspiring a football club in need of salvation, he simultaneously saved himself.
If the first season is Ted Lasso’s journey, therefore, then the second season is everyone else’s. I can’t give too much away but in the new season, premiering on Apple TV on July 23rd, other characters reveal themselves more, going through their own existential discoveries. From Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernandez) to Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), we get to know more about these players and their own personal and cultural struggles and as the season develops, more well-rounded characters are created, something we perhaps didn’t see enough in the first season as last year was more of an introduction to the world of Ted Lasso. Now, we are seeing it grow.
“Yeah, that was definitely intentional,” says Sudeikis. “In the writing of the season we can just pair up any of these two characters and ideas just opposed off everybody’s brains and lips because we knew the characters well enough and the way the actors took them over and made them these three – and in many cases – four dimensional actual people. So this made the writing not only fun but relatively easy because we didn’t have to invent, just had to follow their leads.”
The warmth is still there. There is a sense of familiarity you get when you watch Ted Lasso. It’s as if the viewer is also part of the cast and that’s a key ingredient in regards to its success. Ted Lasso is your favorite Holiday memory. A blanket of comfort. The Christmas episode for example, the fourth episode, is a lovely gift, where the entire cast plays the protagonist in a multi-plot storyline. From Rebecca (the wonderful Hannah Waddingham) and Ted singing on the streets while the entire team dances, to some amazing lines in the script.
“I appreciate that Biggie Smalls…but I’m good baby, baby,”
You’d be pleased to know that the comedy in this season remains intact and Lasso’s soccer naivety is still ever present. Here’s a snippet:
Ted: “Wait a second, we play Sheffield, Wednesday?”
Ted: “Ok, we’re playing Sheffield, Saturday?”
Beard: “Sheffield Wednesday. Saturday.”
Ted: “Oh, we’re playing the same week!?”
Beard shakes his head.
The cast, as Sudeikis mentions in our chat, is remarkable. Jeremy Swift’s Higgins definitely has his moments, as does Nick Mohammed’s Nathan, who continues to pursue his own personal and professional objectives. Juno Temple remains a gem as Keeley Jones, the confident and no-nonsense TV celebrity/model/PR guru and the only cast member who didn’t need to audition for the show. But if there’s one person who catapults into my favorite character this season, it’s Roy Kent, played by Brett Goldstein. His journey this season remains a secret in this review but I can tell you it’s one of the main components of the story. Goldstein warmed us into Kent in the first season the only way Kent knows how, but in the second, he shines. Watch out for his relationship with Jamie Tartt in this one.
A major part of this season also deals with mental health and how several characters deal with their own obstacles, on and off the pitch, allowing us to see their vulnerabilities – while looking to admit when someone needs help. It’s an important, perhaps the most important, theme of the season.
Either way, Ted Lasso – our proverbial pillow – returns to once again remind us that with love, respect, friendship and acceptance, anything is possible.
Make sure to listen or watch our full interview on ¡Qué Golazo! where I talk to Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Phil Dunster, including the part where Sudeikis says I remind him of Pep Guardiola.
I should be so lucky.