It’s hard to find a show that’s quite as widely admired as Ted Lasso. Jason Sudeikis’ mustachioed American football coach has become an impossibly endearing fish out of water who has found a way to steer a team of people playing a sport he knows nothing about to unexpected success. While fans of the Apple TV+ series would surely want it to go on forever, season three will in fact be its last, which was always its creators’ plan. Ever ready to defy expectations, the swan song gets off to a wondrous and typically charming start that’s sure to lead to an exciting and fulfilling final season.
Returning audiences will remember the disappointing betrayal of the former Nate the Great (Nick Mohammed), who has ditched AFC Richmond and gone to work for the enemy, Rebecca’s ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head), the despicable man who prompted Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) to bring Ted to Richmond in the first place. Faced with dismal projections about their prospects, Rebecca, Ted, and the entire team must figure out a way to change the odds and get back on top, which will be no small feat given the additional personal and professional challenges facing management and the players.
At its best, this show leans into drama but doesn’t dwell there, and episode one opens with Ted looking dejected as his son boards a plane to go back home to America after an extended visit. Audiences aren’t treated to that time together but instead to the loneliness Ted feels, which is quickly replaced by a desire to warm others’ spirits and get the team back in shape. Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) navigate their own relationship difficulties, which become much more public than either of them would have wanted. Other interpersonal conflicts emerge at precisely the least productive and most distracting moments.
This show has evolved with its characters, with Ted no longer surprising people by coming up with creative suggestions and comparisons but instead installed as that dependable figure. Bringing the team into a sewer to help them ground their perspectives is a novel idea, but also one that invites unflattering press with far too many easy comparisons to how they’re set to fare. But Ted’s unflappable spirit remains, an inspiration for the ages and a perfect way to tether to a show that has so many great characters who all contribute so much and, like it or not, are affected by Ted’s infectious positivity.
Three years in, this series is also aware of how to keep its tangential characters involved, bringing reporter Ted Crimm (James Lance) back into the fold in a new way and continuing to reform season one’s irritating bad boy Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) as he finds more good in himself. Focusing more on Keeley’s own business is a welcome subplot, one that shows how she goes against the system in her own way, memorably complaining about her CFO to Rebecca before admitting that she has no idea what those three letters actually mean. Some characters, like Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) and Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), could use a more prominent focus with minimal involvement in the season’s opening episodes.
It’s likely that Ted Lasso diehards – a group which, again, encompasses a large swath of the TV-watching public – will not be completely satisfied with the ending that awaits them in just a few short months. But the creative forces behind the show, including Bill Lawrence, whose other Apple TV+ series Shrinking is a great destination for anyone looking for similar fare, know that it’s best to go out on top. While other series have shown signs of waning after a few seasons, this one feels almost as fresh as when it started, ready to keep going for just the right amount of time before calling it quits.
Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.
Season three of Ted Lasso premieres Wednesday, March 15th on Apple TV+.