Review: In second season, 'Ted Lasso' still radiates eternal sunshine

The feel-good Apple TV+ show, starring Jason Sudeikis as an optimistic soccer coach, still feels good in its second season.

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News
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Sometimes good is better — or at least more needed — than great.

“Ted Lasso” was the good we needed last year. There’s a strong chance it’s the good we need this year as well.

Brendan Hunt, Cristo Fernández and Jason Sudeikis in "Ted Lasso."

The upbeat show about an eternally optimistic football coach (Jason Sudeikis) from the Midwest, who goes to England to coach a struggling soccer team even though he knows nothing about soccer, debuted last summer on Apple TV+. It was an instant hit. It recently received 20 (!) Emmy nominations.

Last summer the world was overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. was torn in two politically, climate change weather disasters were piling up and the economy was shaky. An eternally optimistic football coach who believed in teamwork more than winning, and that teamwork would inevitably lead to winning, was a psychic balm, an emotional lifesaver.

Some argued that “Ted Lasso” wasn’t a “great” show. It wasn’t challenging, it wasn’t confusing, it didn’t confront the big questions and dance on metaphors. And that’s all true. But great can be exhausting. The world didn’t need exhausting. It needed “Ted Lasso.”

This summer the world is still overwhelmed by the COVID pandemic, the U.S. is still torn in two politically, climate change weather disasters are again piling up and the economy is still somewhat shaky. 

Welcome back, Ted.

Toheeb Jimoh and Jason Sudeikis in "Ted Lasso."

The interesting thing is Ted’s world is also full of trouble. As the second season begins, he’s just off an emotional divorce and a thousand miles away from his young son. His boss, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), is also just off a divorce and his former team captain, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) has been forced out of the sport by injuries. Roy’s girlfriend Keeley (Juno Temple) is a recovering It girl, and his best friend, assistant coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), is in a dicey relationship.

Plus, the team rarely wins, despite all of Ted’s upbeat pep talks.

This is happy?

Somehow yes. Because “Ted Lasso” is ultimately about good-natured perseverance, about being decent in the face of indecency. About a group of disparate people working toward a common if likely unattainable goal. It’s large and well-carved cast — from team accountant Higgins (Jeremy Swift) to fiery footballer Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernandez) — moves forward together.

The world of “Ted Lasso” is still imperfect. A corporate controversy surfaces in the new season, and inner devils rise later on. The team even brings on an enigmatic psychologist (Sarah Niles) to help everybody talk through their problems.

But the sign over the coaches’ office still says “BELIEVE.” These days we don’t just want to believe in the world of “Ted Lasso,” we likely have to. 

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.

'Ted Lasso'

GRADE: B+

Apple+ TV

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