If your family group chat hasn’t already buzzed you about it, Ted Lasso is back on AppleTV+ tomorrow for its third and likely last season. Jason Sudeikis’s title character became an unlikely pandemic-era hero: a character with boundless goodness and optimism, far from our brooding Walter Whites and Don Drapers, or even cringe-comedy icons like Michael Scott and Nathan Fielder. Ted Lasso has proven to be the kind of generationally-uniting show where characters tend to act like reasonable, compassionate people and the conflict isn’t as heart-racing as it is heartwarming. If you didn’t catch the first two seasons or need a refresher before diving back into the world, we’ve got a guide on everything you need to know before the new season.
Remind me what happened in season 1…
Back when Ted Lasso first hit the field in 2020, Watercooler contributor Cindy White wrote a recommendation for the series, read it in full here. For catch-up purposes:
“The story begins with Ted arriving in England to start a job as head manager of AFC Richmond, an English Premier League football team. He’s never coached soccer before, or even visited England, but he’s up for the challenge. Despite his folksy demeanor, Ted is no fool. He’s aware of how much he has to learn, puts in the effort, and catches on quickly. Joining him on his adventure is his trusted assistant Coach Beard (played by co-creator Brendan Hunt). Their close friendship — based on mutual respect and a shared history that’s only alluded to but feels palpable on screen — turns out to be one of the best parts of the series. What they don’t know is that the team’s recently divorced owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Wadingham), is determined to destroy her ex-husband’s beloved franchise, and has brought in Ted to help her do it. What Rebecca doesn’t know is that she’s picked the exact wrong guy for the job. Or, rather, she’s inadvertently picked the right one. Though he’s set up to fail, Ted handles each setback with grace and humor. His secret weapons against a hostile press, belligerent fans, and a team of resentful players who don’t take well to being told what to do by clueless outsiders are relentless optimism and genuine decency. Sometimes that’s enough.” – Cindy White
Okay now catch me up on season 2…
Despite their newfound Lasso-lead team spirit, the Richmond boys have been demoted to relegation and are trying to win their way back into the Premier League. Here to shake things up is team psychologist Dr. Sharon, whose straight-shooting analysis spurs a big theme of the season: mental health and its effect on the team, especially Ted, who has started to experience panic attacks but won’t admit it to anyone. Roy Kent, after a stint as a kid’s coach and a sports commentator who can’t curb his swearing, is back at Richmond, this time as a coach, and he’s learning to forgive- especially his former rival Jamie Tartt who has just returned to the team. Buttoned-up boss Rebecca kindles an unlikely romance with star player Sam Obisanya, which is on and off again but winds up “on” for now. But perhaps the most drama-filled arc of the season is the meteoric rise of Nate “the Great” Shelley, a towel boy in season 1 turned assistant coach in season 2. His newfound power quickly gets to his head and he starts perpetuating the kind of meanness he was used to receiving. So not Lasso. And with some real media attention behind him after leading a crucial win, the Nate stakes are higher than ever. The season winds up with a clutch win that promotes Richmond back to the Premier League, but Nate can’t shake the bad vibes and quits the team. Ted comes clean about his mental health struggles and has a breakthrough with Dr. Sharon, who shepherds him through his repression of his father’s suicide and his recent divorce, which he usually glazes over with plucky one-liners. The cliff-hanging end: Rebecca’s ex-husband has just bought a rival team, and who has he hired as head coach? The Wonder Kid himself, Nate the Great.
What do we know about Season 3?
The trailer for the final season doesn’t reveal much about what we can expect, except for an apparent dark-sided alliance between Nate and Rupert (Rebecca’s evil ex-husband) and continued goodwill on the Lasso side. Some new cast additions have been revealed- Becky Ann Baker (Girls, Freaks and Geeks) will play Ted’s mom, and Jodi Balfour (For All Mankind) will play a venture capitalist. The season’s already hot anticipation was stoked by delay announcements (forced by script changes and contract re-negotiations) and fans have gotten antsy. Suedekis shared with ET, “I’ve understood people’s desire and concern about when it was coming out and all that, I couldn’t help but have that enter my personal space. […] I was just trying to keep my nose to the grindstone, I think they say, you know, just finish the thing.” Deep breaths around, though, because it’s finally happening, and not a minute too soon for Apple TV+, as the cult comedy became one of the biggest draws in the streamer’s early stages and remains perhaps its splashiest hit.
Why is this show a big deal?
The Lasso effect has been manifold in the world of streaming, storytelling, and even the US’s relationship with soccer (do we call it football now?). It spurred an ice cream flavor, a FIFA crossover, and some think the show might have inspired Hollywooders Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney to purchase the low-level Welsh team Wrexham. (Okay that’s probably not wholly Lasso’s doing, but weird, right?) Everyone seems to have an opinion on the seemingly innocuous Emmy darling. Some find the show’s good guy ethos grating, and some think it only goes so far when it’s coming from a straight white man who’s not risking much. For far more viewers, though, the fish-out-of-water comedy is exactly the kind of comfort-food show they’re looking for. Historian David M. Perry writes for CNN, “As historians, we’ve spent the past 18 months of the pandemic not only watching Ted Lasso but also thinking deeply about the values communities need to weather difficult times. [The show] reminds us that there’s a world possible in which people can count on one another.” So hang your “Believe” posters and bake some biscuits, we’re in for some more healing.
Stream Ted Lasso (S3) on AppleTV+ on March 15th.