I promise this title isn’t clickbait. The first season of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso was as close to perfect as a single camera sitcom can be. Ted Lasso season 2 has been hard for me. Look, I get it. I don’t want to criticize it. I’ve seen so many people criticize it in bad faith and I’ve seen tons of people defend it beyond reason. I understand wanting to defend it, but ust hear me out. It’s ok for it not to be as good, so far at least, as it was before, and I have reason to believe that may change.
Why, you may ask? Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 6 finally feels like the Ted Lasso we all know and love and I think It might redeem the narratives of the entire season.
Ted Lasso Season 2 Review (so far)
It might be possible that this season will be brilliant. My original perception of season 2 was that Ted Lasso the show was getting worse, when what was actually occurring was that Ted Lasso the man was getting worse.
The writing for Ted this year has felt like a caricature of the first series’ Coach Lasso. At times it’s felt like Sudeikis is doing a broad impersonation of Lasso for SNL, but it now seems as if it’s a symptom of his character’s descent into a dark place. You are supposed to be annoyed by Ted Lasso the character, and as a byproduct of that, Ted Lasso itself.
Ted Lasso season 2 has become saccharine because Ted Lasso the man is losing his grip on his emotional stability. Our hero is becoming a cautionary tale of toxic positivity. His buoyant persona is able to make everyone around him better while eroding his own psyche. This is most evident in the Christmas episode, which at the time felt like an odd detour.
In episode 4, Ted gives his son a drone for the Holidays, and his son becomes so enamored with the gift that he leaves the video chat with his father to go pay with his new toy. This seemed like an engineered “sad moment” at the time that was quickly papered over by Ted and Rebecca “getting over” their sadness by doing random acts of kindness for folks around town.
In reality this was another example of Ted hiding behind being Ted. Ted’s entire identity is in jeopardy this season. He doesn’t know it yet, but he thinks it’s his job to make everyone around him better by “believing”, and to his credit that works a lot of the time.
He’s struggling to figure out why he feels so threatened by the team’s sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone. We know why. It’s because that means he might not need to push down his own feelings of despair about his life.
With Dr. Fieldstone’s help, Nate’s growing confidence, and Roy Kent on the sideline, who needs Ted to be Ted? And, if your whole identity is burying your hurt for the benefit of others in need, what happens when those needs are met?
In episode 6 of season 2, we see Ted reach a breaking point. We aren’t even sure what precipitated this break. That’s the funny thing about psychological distress, to everyone else it seems invisible. There wasn’t an obvious reason for Ted to spiral. He just started coming apart. Ted just leaves the game at a crucial moment, and nothing bad happens. In fact, quite the opposite, AFC Richmond takes down the much more capable Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup.
A quick aside, the reveal that Rebecca has been messaging Sam, not Ted, on Bantr was a great misdirection, and I can’t wait to see how that storyline pans out.
So, if Ted Lasso isn’t the only key to his team’s success then what is his purpose and why must he suppress his pain for the greater good?
Ted Lasso the man is in crisis. Ted Lasso the show might be right where it needs to be.