'Ted Lasso' Cast Reacts to Receiving 20 Emmy Nominations

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Variety 20 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

Ted Lasso S02 E01 Sneak Peek | 'Is That Him?' | Rotten Tomatoes TV

Rotten Tomatoes TV 21 July, 2021 - 01:00am

‘Ted Lasso’ Season 2: The lovable hit returns with more depth, and more positive vibes (review)

OregonLive 20 July, 2021 - 05:19pm

When “Ted Lasso” premiered in August 2020, it seemed like an example of Apple TV Plus adding shows to its streaming lineup just to beef up the catalog. The show’s inspiration certainly didn’t sound promising. Jason Sudeikis, of “Saturday Night Live” fame, starred as a character first introduced in promo spots done for NBC Sports.

Borrowing a concept from those commercials, in “Ted Lasso,” Sudeikis plays an American college football coach who is hired to manage an English professional soccer team, despite knowing nothing about the sport.

Instead of feeling like an extended commercial, “Ted Lasso” turned out to be exactly the right show, at exactly the right time. Streaming in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, “Ted Lasso” was a bright beacon of light, as comforting as the homemade biscuits Lasso presents as a daily gift to his boss. To the surprise of practically everyone, “Ted Lasso” was a funny, feel-good, warm hug of a show, shared when everybody needed it the most.

Since emerging as a breakout hit, “Ted Lasso” has been on a victory tour, scoring awards, and an eye-popping 20 Emmy Award nominations, the most ever for a freshman comedy series.

All of which means the pressure is on for Season 2, which premieres Friday, July 23. No longer an under-the-radar sleeper, “Ted Lasso” returns to high expectations. Does Season 2 deliver more laughs, and positive vibes?

Happily, the answer is yes, and yes. The second season has some bumps, and it takes an episode or two to really get going. The show tackles new challenges, as it focuses on the wonderful ensemble of characters who surround Ted, and adds more serious touches to the comedy. If there are fewer laugh-out-loud moments in Season 2, the series goes deeper, and the actors are more than able to rise to the challenge of blending humor and drama.

Sudeikis, who is also an executive producer, is particularly good at finding a balance between the perpetually peppy Ted of Season 1, and a more carefully developed character. Ted still delivers down-home anecdotes, comes up with rhyming nicknames, and drops bits of wisdom. Did you, for example, know that the best soup is one you leave on the stove all night, because you fell asleep watching “Citizen Kane” after too many beers?

Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, Brendan Hunt as Coach Beard, and Nick Mohammed as Nathan all return for Season 2 of last year's breakout hit. (Photo: Courtesy Apple TV Plus)

But the season also finds Ted facing the realities of being a divorced dad, and trying to celebrate Christmas by FaceTiming with his young son, who is thousands of miles away. Sudeikis may have fewer consistently funny lines in Season 2, but he convincingly shows that there’s more to Ted than his grin, and that goofy mustache.

In Season 1, the show explained the sheer improbability of Lasso being hired to coach a game about which he is blithely ignorant. He was specifically brought over because the owner of the club, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), was trying to derail the fictional team. The club was beloved by her rich creep of a cheating ex-husband, and, as revenge, Rebecca intended to flush it down the drain.

The elements of suspense in that season – would Ted discover that Rebecca was hiding her true purpose, the conflicts among team members, Ted’s dissolving marriage – were pretty much resolved by the end of 10 episodes.

In Season 2, “Ted Lasso” confronts the same uphill battle as the team. As sportswriters ask, is AFC Richmond’s competitive edge lacking because of the positive atmosphere Lasso has created? Likewise, can a show built on the premise that pretty much everyone in it is so downright decent create enough conflict to keep us interested?

In its gentle, generous way, “Ted Lasso” manages to do that by following the characters’ relationship issues, and remembering that the show is, above all else, a first-rate workplace comedy. The core of the season’s ongoing story is the arrival of Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles), a sports psychologist who is brought in to help the team figure how to win, instead of continuing their streak of ending games with tie scores.

Sharon is down-to-earth, and not all that impressed by Ted’s folksy ways, even declining his offer of some of his trademark tasty biscuits.

In Season 2, “Ted Lasso” keeps the charm that made its first season so winning, while not ignoring the fact that charm can be a way to hide from difficult realities, whether it has to do with how sons relate to fathers, or intimate connections.

The cast again works together with easy grace, thanks to terrific work from Waddingham, Juno Temple as Keeley, Brett Goldstein as Roy, Brendan Hunt as Coach Beard, Nick Mohammed as Nathan, Jeremy Swift as Higgins, Phil Dunster as Jamie, and Toheeb Jimoh as Sam (Hunt was part of the team that developed the series, and Goldstein is one of the writers).

The heart of the show is Sudeikis, whose performance anchors “Ted Lasso.” Even when the season slows down a bit, Sudeikis’ vulnerability is touching, without ever being mawkish. His performance isn’t just likable, it’s lovable. And so is “Ted Lasso.”

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Ted Lasso 's Hannah Waddingham Sounds Off on Women Being Pitted Against Each Other

Yahoo Entertainment 20 July, 2021 - 10:00am

For those who may not know, Apple TV+'s Ted Lasso features no feuding among its female characters. In reality, it's the men of Ted Lasso that have the most drama. Because of this, Waddingham's character Rebecca and Juno Temple's character Keeley have been applauded for their representation of female friendships.

However, as Waddingham exclusively told E! News, this on-screen dynamic shouldn't be a revolutionary thing for television. "Well, I can't believe that it's even a subject for debate," she explained, "Because it should have always been thus."

Case in point: The season one scene where Keeley helps Rebecca navigate a red carpet has the same energy as a group of women in a club bathroom. They're hyping each other up and are unapologetic about it. In fact, in the same episode Rebecca and Keeley have an actual heart-to-heart in a restroom. So, it's far more realistic than any feuding female trope.

"Getting to actually play two women that adore the bones of each other," she continued, "and who would trample anyone down to let the other one get ahead, I can only hope that it will encourage a generation of young ladies to do the same."

As for her real-life friendship with Temple? Waddingham made it clear they're fans of one another. "She's one of the great loves of my life," she gushed. "And it was just effortless from day one, and it's just gotten deeper and deeper. Every time we see each other, we're like a drug to each other. We really are."

Waddingham and Temple further proved this to be true after being nominated in the same category for the 2021 Emmys. On being honored alongside her co-star for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, a giddy Waddingham said to E! News, "It's just incredible to share this with each other, it's just insane."

Temple, on the other hand, let herself get emotional, calling Waddingham "a g--damn godsend" and gushing, "I couldn't wish to go through anything like this with anybody cooler, anybody more inspirational and I couldn't be more proud to share this moment with a woman as spectacular as her."

Thankfully, there's plenty more of Rebecca and Keeley to enjoy as Ted Lasso returns with a new episode this week. While we wait for the premiere, watch Waddingham talk about season two in the exclusive interview above.

Ted Lasso season two premieres Friday, July 23 on Apple TV+.

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Season two of Apple TV+'s buzzy, feel-fantastic comedy Ted Lasso arrives on July 23, and we can't wait to see our favorite jovial coach back on the soccer field, bright-eyed and bushy-mustachioed. The beloved series, which is about a small-town American football coach stumbling into a coaching gig for a struggling English football team, became a comfort for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ted Lasso Has Done It Again

Vulture 20 July, 2021 - 09:40am

“I believe in communism,” Ted, the underdog American coach, tells his team of British footballers. “Rom-communism.” That’s a worldview, according to Ted, steeped in the principles established by the romantic comedies of the 1990s and 2000s.

“Believing in rom-communism is all about believing that everything is going to work out in the end,” Ted explains. “Now these next few months might be tricky. But that’s just because we’re going through our dark forest. Fairy tales do not start nor do they end in the dark forest. That son of a gun always shows up smack dab in the middle of a story. But it will all work out. Now it may not work out how you think it will or how you hope it does, but believe me: It will all work out, exactly as it’s supposed to.”

This entire sequence, including that speech, is Ted Lasso in miniature. It captures core elements of the show’s sensibility: its optimism, penchant for puns, and subversion of the macho bravado that has traditionally dominated shows and movies about sports. (Ted’s explanation of rom-communism sidebars into a discussion among the players of great rom-com actors. “I enjoy Renée Zellweger in all her Bridget Jones movies,” offers Toheeb Jimoh’s perpetually sincere Sam. “Her accent is pitch-perfect and her gift for physical comedy is grossly underrated.” Everyone else nods in agreement.)

Ted’s outline of the story structure in a typical rom-com–slash–fairy tale also functions as a road map for season two of Ted Lasso, which somehow manages to improve upon the charming pandemic antidepressant that was season one. These 12 new episodes, rolling out weekly starting Friday, are as upbeat and sunny as expected, especially in early installments. (While it does snow in this season’s joyful Christmas episode, Ted Lasso England remains an England where the skies are remarkably clear and fog-free.) In fact, some of the ongoing story lines — including team owner/power boss Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) delving into online dating, and the dynamics between coupled-up Keeley (Juno Temple) and now-retired football star Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) — could have been plucked directly from a rom-com. Ted Lasso, in many ways, is itself an act of rom-communism.

But this season, to its credit, also travels through some dark forests in ways that deepen our understanding of the characters and splash some welcome drops of reality onto the niceness that has become synonymous with the show. The people who populate this inviting football realm, where encouragement and persistence are as omnipresent as penalty kicks, remain likable and worthy of championing. But showrunner Bill Lawrence, who co-developed the series with Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, a.k.a. Coach Beard, and Joe Kelly, makes a concerted effort to demonstrate how easily niceness can be either corroded or used cosmetically to cover what lies beneath.

Nathan (Nick Mohammed), the sweet and insecure recently promoted assistant coach, starts to develop an ego and show signs of arrogance in his new position, while Ted, for reasons that come into sharper focus later in the season, is disconcerted by a new team therapist, Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles of Catastrophe, among other British series), who’s hired to work with the players. Ted is partly rattled because Fieldstone — whose name surely must be another rom-com reference to Dr. Marcia Fieldstone, the radio therapist in Sleepless in Seattle — is initially impervious to Ted’s charms. But the whole notion of therapy makes him uncomfortable, too, a trait that highlights how much Ted’s aw-shucks pleasantries, joke-cracking, and willingness to help others enables him to forget about whatever issues may be boiling beneath his smiling mustachioed surface.

All of the more serious beats in this season of Ted Lasso are addressed in the exact proper proportion to the lighter, funnier moments so that it doesn’t feel like a different show, just one that’s added a couple layers of depth. Sudeikis is still remarkably believable as a guy whose energy and affability levels are always dialed to eleven. He’s so good at what he does that his performance does not always appear to be the tightrope walk it is actually is. Every grin, twangy joke delivery, and uplifting anecdote has the potential to swing too wide or become grating. But Sudeikis is so completely in touch with Ted that every acting choice he makes is like a breeze that catches a kite and keeps it gliding, high and steady. Only Sudeikis could say something like, “I think a fella should only take as long as the tune ‘Easy Lover’ by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey to get dressed in the morning,” and make it sound like a real thing a real person would say, and also like a life philosophy 100 percent worth adopting.

One of the beauties of this season of Ted Lasso is how much room it gives for characters other than Ted to shine. Hunt continues to drop drolleries as Coach Beard with dart-on-bull’s-eye precision, but he also shows some vulnerability, particularly as more about his on-again, off-again romance with Jane (Phoebe Walsh) is slowly revealed. In addition to Nathan, Sam gets more of a front-and-center role, especially in an episode where a corporate sponsor weighs on his conscience, proving that Jimoh has more to offer than his wide, gleaming smile. (To be clear, though: that smile is great.) Leslie Higgins (Jeremy Swift), the director of football operations, came off in season one as a bit cartoonish, but in this go-round is much more competent, though still goofy and often the victim of embarrassing situations entirely of his own making. There’s a running gag throughout this season in which Higgins is found working in increasingly ridiculous corners of the building after he loans his own office to Sharon.

And if you’re looking for platonic romance this season, look no further than the relationship that continues to blossom between Rebecca and Keeley, two women who mutually admire and support each other and, courtesy of Waddingham and Juno Temple, have an easy, infectious chemistry that’s lovely to absorb every time they’re side by side onscreen.

Ted Lasso is one of those shows where every ingredient comes together but, like the performances by Sudeikis and so many of the other actors, seems so effortless that you don’t notice at first how many instruments are playing in harmony. Take the scene in the first episode where Ted takes a walk on the pitch with a depressed Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández), one of his best players, and tries to get his head back in the game. The conversation, like so many in Ted Lasso, veers into pop-culture references — this time they involve the movie Magnolia and the filmography of Tom Cruise — with Beard piping in comments a few steps behind Dani and Ted. The shot is framed perfectly so that Hunt can be seen in the middle of the space between head coach and player, which primes the audience to be ready for some classic Beard-Lasso banter. It’s a perfect example of how the timing between the actors, great writing (Hunt has the credit on the episode), and direction steered by someone with a keen eye for comedy (in this case Irish filmmaker Declan Lowney) work in tandem to create a moment that’s tight, funny, and well-observed. Ted Lasso pulls off that kind of magic in scene after scene, and in episode after episode.

While Ted Lasso may be a believer in rom-communism, it manages to avoid the pitfalls that a lot of rom-coms don’t, by never becoming too cloying, too clever, or too sentimental to be believed. The show embraces optimism without feeling false. It celebrates the better angels of human nature, without flying too far into unbelievable fantasy. Anyone who appreciated season one and hits play on season two will feel the following sentiment, partly borrowed from another Tom Cruise movie, almost immediately: Wow, Ted Lasso. Once again, you have me at hello.

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