In the second-most exaggerated scene from HBO’s oppressively/gloriously excessive dramedy The Newsroom, Will McAvoy refuses to follow the media narrative in the wake of the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords because he is a time traveler from the future with 20/20 hindsight on everything. “A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news,” he confidently asserts.
That’s how I feel about everyone connected to Ted Lasso, implying that the following third season of the program would also be its final one.
The soccer comedy feels too precious for Apple TV+ to give up without a fight, or at least without a lot of advertising buzz, despite what star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis may be saying.
Until the first commercial emerges, calling this “the third and final season,” I suppose that backroom conversations are happening. Ted Lasso feels like a show treating this run as a conclusion, if not the finale, based on the four episodes sent to critics.
It is more retroactive than prospective, and the overarching series narrative’s shape is becoming increasingly apparent. At the same time, the program keeps up with what critics have either praised as its expansion or criticized as its bloat.
These four episodes, which range from 44 to 50 minutes, maintain the tone and rhythms of the earlier 30-minute episodes. The end product is awkward, like a whole eight-episode season crammed in with little thought for repetition or flow.
Putting aside the odd meandering moments, I have such a strong fondness for so many of these characters — too many if we’re being sincere — that I always find great comfort in seeing them again.
In case you forgot, Ted Sudeikis’ AFC Richmond led back to the Premier League after a season of battling panic attacks and insecurities, but Nate (Nick Mohammed) went full Judas (or Darth Vader) and took Rupert’s (Anthony Head) offer to coach West Ham.
Even so, Ted’s primary objective for hiring him as the team’s coach was accomplished. As he drops his son off at the airport in the season three opener, Ted muses, “I guess I do sometimes wonder what I’m still doing here.
I understand why I arrived, but I’m unsure why I’m staying. Ted believes that his role in the story is ending and wonders what that would entail, whether or not the series is nearing its finale.
The new soccer season is when we pick up. Experts agree that Richmond will place last and be sent to the lower division. Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is furious about this mainly because West Ham, her ex-husband, now owns and is predicted to place in the top five. Would Zava (Maximilian Osinski), a mercurially gifted striker, offer any hope, or will a Zlatan Ibrahimovi-like international transfer decide to go with West Ham instead?
Many other things are going on. Far too much. The relationship between Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) is still tense, but at least her new PR firm is up and running.
Sam’s (Toheeb Jimoh) new restaurant and Jamie’s (Phil Dunster) maturation are ongoing player-centric storylines. At the same time, Colin (Billy Harris) and Thierry Zoreaux are the subjects of basic and minor new plots (Moe Jeudy-Lamour). The ultimate irony of the show will be if it ends just as I start to recognize and care for every team member.
The issue isn’t that Ted Lasso has overstretched itself by turning its profile into an hour-long comedy. The exact opposite. It’s stretched out too widely.
ACCORDING TO LOGIC, Apple TV+ should now have three or four related spinoffs. Ted Lasso ought to be here: Even Keeley talked about how she changed from being the traditional WAG to a seasoned professional. A stand-alone episode of each episode of Ted Lasso: Player’s Club, an anthology in the vein of La Ronde, should showcase a different player.
Ted Lasso: Shrinking, in which Sarah Niles’ Sharon relocates to Los Angeles and joins the practice with the ensemble of Shrinking, and Ted Lasso: Roy Story, starring Roy Kent and the Muppets. And those are the offshoots I want to see. I’m not looking to watch movies like Sassy! or Ted Lasso: The Three Men at the Bar, giving the brilliant Ellie Taylor the prominence she deserves.
Instead, Ted Lasso has evolved into a show where each character feels like the star of their performance, which is impressive in a world where many shows don’t have a single surface deserving of anchoring a program and where each character also feels as though they are just receiving partial attention.
This is made worse by the fact that the titular protagonist of the program is stuck in a rut that only he and the show, regrettably, fully comprehend.
How can Ted still ask other characters whether he’s a mess after last season? The goal of season two, according to both Ted and the audience, was to make them both aware of how Ted’s super-chipper demeanor and impenetrable optimism were a cover for years of suppressed grief.
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I understand that it’s all part of Ted recognizing that the series’ central conceit was his attempt to flee from self-denied traumas, but Sharon was the only one who could genuinely reach Ted, and now she can only communicate with him by Zoom or phone.
The third season starts to feel like it’s half completing Ted Lasso’s narrative and half building up any or all of those potential spinoffs, highlighting the fact that Ted Lasso has likely become the least exciting aspect of Ted Lasso. While everyone else is committed to the project, Ted has already given up, whether he is aware of it.
I don’t dislike Sudeikis’ portrayal in the least, particularly the sincere pathos he highlighted in the second season. Simply put, I adore the supporting characters.
Even though we have seen Waddingham portray Rebecca’s simmering hatred toward Rupert before—Head, now a cast regular, is delightfully venal—it is amusing to watch her get brought ever closer to her most recent breaking point.
Even though we’ve spent the past two seasons watching Goldstein, or at the very least Roy Kent, curse at men, women, and kids equally, the new season still contains many of my favorite Roy Kent expletives. I include “Hell yeah, Princess Diaries” as one of many beauties out of context.
Mohammed is fantastic as Nate fights for what’s left of his soul. Dunster keeps making Jamie’s heroic turn more plausible than it ought to be. Jimoh is absent early on in this show after receiving a well-earned Emmy nomination for the second season.
However, whatever material he is given serves as a reminder of why viewers and Rebecca connected with his character.
When given a chance, numerous minor actors—including Cristo Fernández, Charlie Hiscock, Harriet Walter, Andrea Anders, Elodie Blomfield, Adam Colborne, Bronson Webb, and Kevin Garry—are capable of stealing scenes or entire episodes. Don’t even start me on Ellie Taylor again.
With all these components, we may be relieved that Ted Lasso didn’t go full-Stranger things this season. I haven’t even mentioned the new cast members, which include Osinski (funny but in a role that feels like too many other characters from the show already), the always-welcome Jodi Balfour, and others.