Monday, October 25, 2021

‘Ted Lasso’ Review: Season 2 Continues to Set a New Standard for Television

Every so often, a near-perfect television show will sneak its way past the cutthroat obstacles and challenges littering the hallways of the entertainment industry. Word about it will spread like wildfire between friends, colleagues, strangers, and to the furthest reaches of social media, blowing viewer expectations out of the water. Some critics will try to publicly flay it just for kicks and clicks, but they’ll fall short on their empty swords.

It’s rare to see a show that climbs high enough to check off every box along the way, especially in this modern world where streaming service offerings have upped the stakes tenfold, constantly competing for viewer attention. Schitt’s Creek, a comedy series that captivated audiences for six seasons straight, is an example of this rarely accomplished phenomenon.

Another show quickly skyrocketed to this status in late 2020 when its premiere season landed on Apple TV+ — Ted Lasso. This uplifting comedy series tells the story of an American football coach who moves to the UK to oversee a struggling soccer team. It was a critically acclaimed hit that came at a time when the world truly needed it most. Equal parts hilarious and heartwarming, Apple’s new show quickly became the next big, elusive crowning achievement in television.

Ted Lasso still
Apple TV+
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Now, a year later, the second season of Ted Lasso has just come to an end. After all the enthusiastically positive ruckus it caused in its first go-around, expectations were running high for season 2 from start to finish. Would it be just as amazing as season 1, or would it be a one-trick pony trotting off into a bland pasture?

As reliable as Ted’s signature biscuits (okay, besides that one time, but give him a break — it was a bad day!), Ted Lasso season 2 serves as proof yet again why this is one of the best shows on television right now.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

While its premise is built around English football, Ted Lasso has always been so much more than just a “sports show” — it’s about people. Season 2 magnifies this point tenfold, placing an even heavier focus than before on the lives and interpersonal relationships of its characters. While season 1 told a funny, entertaining, and endearing story, it was also tasked with introducing a wide array of characters within the span of 10 episodes. The thing that made season 2 click, hitting even harder and digger deeper emotionally, was the opportunity for a fluid, natural evolution of the script. And thus, the magic of character development — something the series teased its penchant for with the growth of Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca throughout season 1.

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It’s not uncommon for comedy shows to lean heavily on the concept of static characters, because often times predictability and repetitive acts are the product of a tried and true “punchline formula.” Ted Lasso, on the other hand, has taken a far different approach with its wholly dynamic characters that give the series a strong, beating heart at its core (while still challenging viewers to try and make it through even a quarter of an episode without laughing).

If you had told me a few months ago that Jamie Tartt would manage to become one of my favorite characters by the end of this new season, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. Phil Dunster’s character was a thorn in most people’s sides in season 1, only finally given a glimmer of humanity near the end when the ugly truth about his father was revealed. Moving into season 2, Jamie went through one of the most impressive and well-written character arcs that I’ve ever seen, which culminated in a surprising conversation with Roy about the woman they both love.

Apple TV+

Speaking of Richmond’s foul-mouthed, grumpy player-turned-coach, Brett Goldstein continues to be one of the most outstanding aspects of Ted Lasso, period. (And to think that he originally boarded the show solely as a writer!) Roy Kent functions as a stark contrast to the sunny, positive demeanor of Jason Sudeikis’ Ted, and yet even with all of his anger, he still manages to be just as beloved by the audience thanks to Goldstein’s undeniable on-screen charisma. Roy’s hidden soft side also deserves credit, which is something that’s brought out exclusively by Juno Temple’s Keeley Jones. This fan favorite couple was put through the wringer this season, but what’s so impressive about their turmoil is the realistic, mature, and healthy way that it was written — like when Roy is torn up over how proud he is of Keeley’s photoshoot, admitting how great she looks on her own as a successful, independent woman.

Apple TV+

As for Ted, he had a panic attack in the first season that came and went with minimal explanation, but season 2 was fully prepared to sit back and peel through the layers of this event (and what was to follow) like a beautiful, poignant onion of pain. This, paired with the introduction of Sarah Niles’ Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, served as a brilliant jumping off point for an incredibly important, eye-opening dive into the topic of mental health in sports. One would be hard-pressed not to commend Sudeikis’ absolutely exceptional performance this season, which was palpably wrought with so much distinct, authentic vulnerability.

The show offers up a variety of other dramatic twists and turns throughout this latest season, too, including Nate’s ascension to a full-fledged antagonist. And through it all, it continues to remain honest and true to its audience. The drama isn’t for kicks, a shortcut to shock value in between laughs. Rather, Ted Lasso prides itself in its forthright, sincere style of storytelling, which feels like it’s here to support viewers — rather than deceive them. A rare commodity in entertainment.

Season 2 of Ted Lasso continues to set a new standard for television. It doesn’t demand, but rather politely and graciously — à la Ted himself — demonstrates to other shows how they can do better. It also shows us as the audience how we can do better, too. This benchmark for quality entertainment is also a beacon of hope, a breath of fresh air, and a reminder to believe.

And I will henceforth be watching that absolutely marvelous Christmas episode on repeat on an annual basis, thank you very much.

Seasons 1 and 2 of Ted Lasso are now streaming exclusively on Apple TV+. Make sure to catch up on all of our coverage on the series, including episodic recaps and more.

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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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