Last winter, I signed up for a free trial of Apple TV+, the premium streaming service from my favorite computer company. There were a few movies I wanted to catch, like Wolfwalkers, Finch, and On the Rocks — but I also wanted to check out this new show that all my friends were raving about: Ted Lasso.
My expectations were not high. I'm not much for television, and those shows I do watch tend to be either farcical or fantastical. So a show about an American football coach who becomes a European football (that is, soccer) coach didn't seem like it would be up my alley, even if it was a comedy.
But Ted Lasso had been described as part of a trend in "positive media". In contrast to dark, gritty shows featuring protagonists of questionable values, positive media portrays heroes who model admirable qualities, like courage, friendship, respect, and collaboration. I had just finished watching She-Ra, which fit that description, and I was hungry for more.
The trailer gave me the premise, but before I committed myself to watching an entire series, I wanted a bit more insight into who this Ted Lasso was. The scene I found centered on a game of darts.
What I saw was an underdog who stood up to a bully. That alone had me cheering for Ted. Hopeful, I started with the pilot.
Not only did I get what I was hoping for, but Ted Lasso proved to be so much more. This isn't just an exaggerated comedy about a hillbilly who's a fish out of water; it's a nuanced, realistic portrayal of trauma and mental health, be it at the hands of heartbreak, family tragedy, or worse. It's about stripping away the toxic masculinity that's so rampant in professional sports and broader culture, uncovering the prism of emotions that men rarely permit themselves to feel. It's about women who are not jealous and catty with each other, but who are strong, independent entrepreneurs who help each other succeed.
And, yes, it's also about a hillbilly fish out of water — but in ways many of us can relate. (I too find tea to be nothing more than hot brown water. No, thank you.)
The initial success of Ted Lasso earned the show a second season, but not before the cast made the leap to stop-motion. In this free, four-minute short, Ted and friends discover the true meaning of Christmas.
This holiday season, may we all find not just the inner strength, but the support of those who care about us, to be the best we can be — and to help each other along the way.