No knowledge? No experience? It’s no problem for ‘Ted Lasso’ in Apple comedy


‘Ted Lasso’ – Sudeikis stars in Apple fish-out-of-water comedy


Hannah Waddingham and Jason Sudeikis star in “Ted Lasso,” premiering Friday on Apple TV+.

If there was ever a man who can turn positive thinking into results, it’s “Ted Lasso.”

As played by Jason Sudeikis (“Saturday Night Live,” “We’re the Millers”) in the so-named half-hour comedy series that begins streaming Friday, Aug. 14, on Apple TV+, he’s a former Kansas college football coach brought over to England to work his magic on the failing A.F.C. Richmond football club. The only problem: He knows next to nothing about soccer.

But he does have an avid curiosity, a spirit brimming with optimism and an obvious ability to lead, motivate and relate to people. His new boss, team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham, “Game of Thrones”), publicly maintains that he’s just the tonic to lead the team out of decades of mediocrity. But privately, she’s still seething over a very humiliating end to her marriage and sees hiring Ted as a means to torching her rich ex’s favorite toy.

Ted, meanwhile, is undaunted, even as fans chant “wanker” at him at games. He relies on staffers such as meek but astute clubhouse guy Nate (Nick Mohammed, “The Martian”) for soccer acumen, getting players on his side and attempting to build a close relationship with Rebecca, who remains cordial while trying to maintain distance. And then there is Keeley (Juno Temple, “Vinyl”), a fashion model and player’s girlfriend, who becomes close to both Ted and Rebecca.


Jason Sudeikis stars in “Ted Lasso,” premiering Friday on Apple TV+.

The story is based on a character Sudeikis (who is also a writer and executive producer here) created for a series of ads for Premier League Soccer on NBC Sports in 2014.

“One of the things that Jason brought to this …,” series co-creator, writer and executive producer Bill Lawrence explains, “was what the best version of an American is on foreign soil, which is someone that shows up with curiosity rather than the arrogance of pretending to know what the hell is going on. So he’s a fish out of water and he shows up with curiosity about the world, the people and the game. He’s luckily got a guy next to him and a support staff that knows the game inside and out and he comes to learn it.

“But really,” he continues, “why he’s there is because … he’s somebody that cares. What gets tested is he’s someone that cares more about the lives and humanity of these young men than about winning or losing. And not sure if that can work on a professional level so we’ll see.”

Rebecca is banking that it can’t. She, too, thinks of him as a wanker though she can’t help but be impressed by his indomitability. Like Rebecca, Ted’s marriage is not well. In some ways these two are alike, both effective people whose outward confidence masks personal pain.

“They are birds of a feather who couldn’t be any further at opposite ends to each other in the way they deal with things,” Waddingham says. “You know, his winning formula is to be bright and breezy and everything’s fine and we’re all going to be fine and then quietly collapse in his apartment. Whereas Rebecca is keeping herself immaculate, running an immaculate ship and you will not permeate this ice-queen veneer. And I love the way it’s written, that when you see them both behind closed doors you actually think, ‘Oh my God, you guys really need to talk.’ ”

But this relationship can go only so far when one is using the other to get back at another.

“She thinks it’s totally fool-proof revenge,” Waddingham says. “She’s like, ‘You know what? What if the path of least resistance is to f…ing burn this house down?”


 

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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