Ted Lasso Review: Jason Sudeikis Soars in Surprisingly Charming Series

We can all agree that there's nothing better than a great surprise, right? Whether they come in the form of a birthday party or J.K. Simmons showing up in the MCU, good surprises are simply delightful. Ted Lasso, the new series from Apple TV+, is the best kind of surprise there is. This show is based on a commercial for Premier League soccer on NBC that aired over seven years ago, which doesn't exactly seem like a great setup for an ongoing TV sitcom, much less a good one. I loved the original sketch, but this just had "bad idea" written all over it. Little did I know that Ted Lasso would be one of the best new shows of 2020.

Jason Sudeikis stars as the titular Ted Lasso, an American football coach who is hired to lead a professional soccer team in London, England. There's just one problem with that: Ted Lasso doesn't know a thing about soccer. Fortunately for Lasso, what he lacks in knowledge, he makes up for in charm and empathy. Despite being hated by just about everyone in the city of London when he first arrives, Lasso sports a constant smile as he attempts to turn a lackluster franchise around.

In the commercial, Lasso was portrayed as nothing more than a buffoon, a hilarious example of American ignorance and a constant reminder that being the loudest in the room never means you're the smartest. He wasn't exactly a likable guy, but that wasn't the point. It was meant to be a short gag and nothing more. That version of Lasso never could have sustained an entire TV series, and that's honestly a big reason why I worried about the show. How on earth was that character going to lead a 10-episode season?

Sudeikis and co-creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) are brilliant comedic talents, so they thought of this issue long before I did. The version of Lasso in the series is not at all the same man from the ad. He's just as funny, keeping his signature mustache and accent, but he operates with a seismically different core. This Ted Lasso is the warmest and most charming TV character I've encountered in some time.

All Ted Lasso wants to do is make those around him feel joy and become better people, which applies to both the character and the show itself. Lasso puts everyone within reach in the best position to succeed, not because he wants anything from them, but simply because he cares. He cares about everyone and goes out of his way to make sure they know it. That's a basement-level human ideology, but we've found ourselves in a time where that exact thinking is in short supply, and Ted Lasso has loads to spare.

This premise is one that we need desperately, but it's the performance of Sudeikis that really makes it work. He's the linchpin to the entire operation. It's hard to find something Sudeikis isn't great in, but Ted Lasso may feature his best work to-date. He has this way of saying something so ridiculous, oftentimes incredibly stupid, but delivering it with such a genuine conviction that you can only love him more for it. Sudeikis transforms Lasso's ignorance from his greatest weakness to his greatest strength. It's the acting equivalent of a Criss Angel street show.

As funny as Ted Lasso can be at times, it also has moments where it's earnestly and utterly heartbreaking. Real tears will be cried watching this show. The sad moments are few and far between — this is a comedy, after all — but they pack quite a punch when they appear.

Ted Lasso could not have come at a more perfect time. The world needs something joyous to hold onto, as well as some serious lessons in empathy. We could also use a nice surprise now and then. Ted Lasso provides all of the above and, if I'm being honest, it's more than worth the cost of Apple TV+ on its own.


Rating: 5 out of 5

The first three episodes of Ted Lasso are now streaming on Apple TV+.