Monday, October 25, 2021

Recap: The Cast of ‘Ted Lasso’ Talks Mentorship, Character Development, and More at PaleyFest LA

PaleyFest LA, the United States’ premier television festival, has brought viewers its 2021 lineup in a virtual format this year. Throughout the course of this week, engaging, informative, and entertaining panels for hit shows like The Queen’s Gambit, Lovecraft Country, and What We Do in the Shadows have been released for the general public to view and enjoy. (You can find all of the PaleyFest LA panels here.)

The final round of panels today included the beloved Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, a sports comedy that follows the story of an American football coach named Ted Lasso who is hired to manage the struggling English football team AFC Richmond in the UK If you’ve found yourself here and have yet to see this incredible show, check out our top five reasons you need to watch it right now.

For the panel, co-creator Bill Lawrence was joined by star and fellow co-creator Jason Sudeikis, stars and writers Brendan Hunt and Brett Goldstein, and stars Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, and Phil Dunster. The group, which was in good spirits and full of laughter, was moderated by Patton Oswalt, a passionate fan of the series himself.

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Watch the panel here.

Highlights

Patton Oswalt opened up the panel by commending the impressive amount of awards and nominations that the show has gathered since its premiere last year, which includes a Golden Globe win, three Critics Choice Award wins, and more.

As Oswalt noted the amazing hidden depth that can be found across all of the characters in the series, Bill Lawrence explained the irony of how Jason Sudeikis’ first pitch didn’t immediately sound like a television show to him because the character of Ted Lasso was originally just a promo skit for NBC. (I think I speak for all fans when I say it’s a collective sigh of relief that they went forward with the idea.)

With such well fleshed-out characters, Oswalt asked the co-creators if they had to sacrifice some of the storytelling in the filming process. However, Sudeikis and Lawrence confirmed that the stories have stayed, and only jokes have been trimmed for time. Interestingly enough, the beginning, middle, and end stories for all of the characters were established from the get-go, which means that viewers can look forward to a consistent narrative throughout the remaining two seasons of the series.

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Oswalt noted that season 1 ended on a reverse cliffhanger, leaving all of the characters in a great place (which is refreshing right now in the world of television, honestly). Lawrence chimed in to explain that this isn’t even the end to everyone’s stories yet, either. Despite all of the progress the characters have made in their individual lives over the course of the first season, they all still have continuing journeys to go on. For example, Ted’s panic attack hasn’t been forgotten, and the show will circle back to that to address it. The integrity and heart in Ted Lasso‘s storytelling is one of the show’s biggest strengths.

Apple TV+

Rebecca Welton was a force to be reckoned with in season 1, and Hannah Waddingham touched on the fact that she actually didn’t originally know that her character would have so much growth instead of just being a villain. Sudeikis gave props to Dunster’s portrayal of Jamie, who has an almost unredeemable nature up until the last episode. The co-creator and star went on to discuss how actors in these types of roles have to find a way to emphasize with their characters, and how important it was for the Ted Lasso team to find actors that were willing to love this “shadow version” of themselves in roles like that of Jamie and Anthony. There’s an inherent bravery in taking on these kinds of roles because people in show business are fueled by their need to be loved by audiences.

In an amusing turn of events, Goldstein, who portrays the perpetually angry Roy and also does double duty in the writer’s room, explained with a laugh that it was imperative that his character have a hairy chest while his rival Jamie did not. However, the conversation took a darker and more serious turn as he turned to Sudeikis to confirm if he could share something about Roy that they haven’t discussed in a panel yet. At the beginning of season 1, Roy was well aware that he had unfortunately only had one season left in his career due to his age.

That’s a tough enough pill to swallow as it is, but keeping in mind that football had been his entire life since he was a toddler, Roy had no plans beyond that once he was finished. To put it simply, he was depressed and very much suicidal, envisioning a much more bleak ending for himself than the direction his story went by the end of season 1. Roy’s saving grace, along with Ted’s influence on his life and the team in general, was Keeley. However, another product of Ted Lasso‘s ingenious writing is the fact that Keeley isn’t a manic pixie dream girl. We’ve got this incredibly strong female character, and the series isn’t just placing her in a narrative corner to be the savior of a man. She has her own story arc and path that she’s on.

Apple TV+

Something that fans have recognized and commended about Ted Lasso is its treatment of female relationships. Waddinghan said that she didn’t even entertain the idea of what would eventually happen between her and Keeley because she’s grown so used to seeing women pitted against one another. The same thing happened between Keeley and Sassy as well, because they were two characters you would have typically expected to end up in a standoff over their mutual friendship with Rebecca. However, the narrative was all about love and acceptance for these women, which was an eye-opener for Waddingham and audiences alike.

As the panel came to a close, Lawrence summed up Ted Lasso by explaining its overarching theme — mentorship. In sitting back and looking at all of the show’s characters and plotlines, it’s a recurring theme that can be found across the board. Mentors don’t fix you. They show you a different path, and you need to be the one to make the decision to take it.

For those interested in early access to future content and additional perks, check out the Paley Center’s various Membership levels.

An official release date has not yet been announced, but season 2 of Ted Lasso is due to premiere exclusively on Apple TV+ this summer. Stay tuned for our continued coverage of the series.

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Lindsey
Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to her first love, photography. When she's not behind the camera, she's likely reading books and comics or dabbling in creative writing. Otherwise, she's probably yelling about something Star Wars or Marvel related on Twitter @lindyysolo. Contact: lindsey@nerdsandbeyond.com

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