If there was ever a man who can turn positive thinking into results, it’s “Ted Lasso.”
As played by Jason Sudeikis in the so-named half-hour comedy series that begins streaming Friday, Aug. 14, on Apple TV+, he’s a former Kansas college football coach brought over to England to work his magic on the failing A.F.C. Richmond football club. The only problem: He knows next to nothing about soccer.
But he does have an avid curiosity, a spirit brimming with optimism, and an obvious ability to lead, motivate and relate to people. His new boss, team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), publicly maintains that he’s just the tonic to lead the team out of decades of mediocrity. But privately, she’s still seething over a very humiliating end to her marriage and sees hiring Ted as a means to torching her rich ex’s favorite toy.
An American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) takes on an English soccer team in “Ted Lasso,” premiering Friday, Aug. 14, on Apple TV+.
– Courtesy of Apple TV+
Ted, meanwhile, is undaunted. He relies on staffers such as meek but astute clubhouse guy Nate (Nick Mohammed) for soccer acumen, getting players on his side and attempting to build a close relationship with Rebecca, who remains cordial while trying to maintain distance. And then there is Keeley (Juno Temple), a fashion model and player’s girlfriend, who becomes close to both Ted and Rebecca.
The story is based on a character Sudeikis (who is also a writer and executive producer here) created for a series of ads for Premier League Soccer on NBC Sports in 2014.
“One of the things that Jason brought to this …,” series co-creator, writer and executive producer Bill Lawrence explains, “was what the best version of an American is on foreign soil, which is someone that shows up with curiosity rather than the arrogance of pretending to know what the hell is going on. So he’s a fish out of water and he shows up with curiosity about the world, the people and the game. He’s luckily got a guy next to him and a support staff that knows the game inside and out and he comes to learn it.
“But really,” he continues, “why he’s there is because … he’s somebody that cares. What gets tested is he’s someone that cares more about the lives and humanity of these young men than about winning or losing. And not sure if that can work on a professional level, so we’ll see.”
An American football coach (Jason Sudeikis), right, moves to England to take on a new challenge in “Ted Lasso,” on Apple TV+. The comedy also stars Nick Mohammed.
– Courtesy of Apple TV+
Rebecca is banking that it can’t.
Like Rebecca, Ted’s marriage is not well. In some ways these two are alike, both effective people whose outward confidence masks personal pain.
“They are birds of a feather who couldn’t be any further at opposite ends to each other in the way they deal with things,” Waddingham says. “You know, his winning formula is to be bright and breezy and everything’s fine and we’re all going to be fine and then quietly collapse in his apartment. Whereas Rebecca is keeping herself immaculate, running an immaculate ship and you will not permeate this ice-queen veneer. And I love the way it’s written, that when you see them both behind closed doors you actually think, ‘Oh my God, you guys really need to talk.'”