In season 2, Ted Lasso settles into being the world’s most positive sitcom [Apple TV+ review]

By

Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Nick Mohammed in Ted Lasso
Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Nick Mohammed survey the pitch.
Photo: Apple TV+

The big American heart in the body of the United Kingdom is beating again. Ted Lasso is back for another season of relentless positivity, and fans of the hit Apple TV+ comedy can rest easy. They know exactly what they’re getting.

The title character, played by Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis, returns for more unorthodox soccer coaching with his deep bench of homespun aphorisms intact. In short, if you liked the first season — and who didn’t? — you’ll enjoy this one as well.

Ted Lasso season 2 review

Last season, lovable coach Ted won over everyone. He helped everyone find their purpose in life, whipped his team into shape, gave people jobs … so what’s left? Nothing really.

The show, having climbed the mountain it introduced in its first few episodes, is now pretty much just a sitcom in the Parks and Recreation or The Office mold. That’s how Ted Lasso initially was semi-designed, coming as it did from NBC.

In the first episode of the second season, which debuts today on Apple TV+, Ted’s star player kills the team mascot and loses his confidence. Naturally, Ted must nurse him back to emotional health. Stuff like that.

Essentially, we get mini-crises in place of season-long problems. A new assistant puts the wrong fabric softener in the team’s laundry. Former player Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) runs into trouble getting his TV career off the ground. Ted has a new crush. Riveting stuff.

Take me out, Coach

Ted Lasso season 2 review: Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt raise a glass to niceness.
Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt raise a glass to niceness in Ted Lasso.
Photo: Apple TV+

Ted Lasso was never really a show for me, a curmudgeon who writes criticism instead of playing sports. Asthma made sports a hellish crucible for me, so I never learned the lessons of togetherness, teamwork and sportsmanship through them. I looked on with envy as my athletic friends grew popular because of their prowess on the pitch, channeling my frustration into writing and never getting the sense of community that comes from rooting for teams or specific players.

Ted Lasso isn’t a show really about sports, though. It’s about a group of people who share a love for sport — and from this grow into better people. So it would be an understatement to say I’m not the show’s target audience.

I like my sports media to be deeply, deeply cynical. North Dallas Forty and Slap Shot and The Longest Yard, what have you… Movies about corruption and broken bodies and beer-soaked maliciousness.

Ted Lasso is a show about believing in yourself and bringing joy and positive self-reflection with you everywhere you go like some reverse pied piper. I … well, my gut reaction is extreme loathing.

The show neutered its most aggressive character, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), by taking him out of direct competition with Ted on the team. And as much as I still like Goldstein’s very angry performance, without his ability to ruin everyone’s day, he isn’t quite the supernova he was initially. Even Hannah Waddingham‘s once nasty team owner is now just another well-meaning character who reflect’s Ted’s sunshine-and-rainbows attitude.

This might be all you got

However, I absolutely get why people need a show like this. We’ve all had a rough year. Maybe seeing people simply helping each other succeed is what we need right now. Not me, though. I don’t want to watch people be nice to each other (outside of a Joe Pera sketch).

I don’t want to hear the Mumford & Sons’ theme song while the opening credits scrub graffiti off stadium seats, literally gentrifying the sitcom. I don’t want to hear Sudeikis’ southern accent. I don’t want a script that’s 90% sayings Pat Buttram’s Mr. Haney on Green Acres would have come up with. All of this inch-thick “hooray for everyone” pleasantness gives me a rash.

Now, I know this is all unfair. Ted Lasso is a handsomely produced and well-acted show. And I do even laugh at some of the jokes. But man oh man oh man oh man ohmanohmanOHMAN do I ever not care for the experience of watching it.

Ted Lasso is a true runaway success. And it proves that people still find value in media that sticks up for people in their time of need (and if we forget for a minute that everyone on this show is rich, that’s meaningful). But for me, it’s a cocktail of micro-aggressions that, taken together, feel like a mugging.

Ted Lasso season 2 on Apple TV+

Season 2 of Ted Lasso debuts on July 23. New episodes arrive on Fridays.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.