Tom Stangl

“I appreciate you.”

That phrase is the mantra of the titular character of “Ted Lasso” the Apple TV+ television show that won seven Emmy Awards and received 20 nominations. Created by and starring Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt, the show is about two American football coaches hired to run an English soccer team.

It's one of the best shows you probably have never seen.

The reason? Apple TV+ is yet another streaming service vying for subscribers in the post cable TV landscape. Owned by Apple, the computer and smartphone giant, the service is working to find its niche.

“Ted Lasso” just completed its second season on the service. My daughter has a subscription to the service and we watched (binged) the first season in blocks. We have watched the second season as it has come available each Friday.

Lasso, portrayed by Sudeikis, is a mustachioed and folksy football coach. Hunt is Coach Beard, his bearded assistant. The two leave Kansas and their national championship small college football program for England. Lasso and Beard have never coached soccer. They are coaching a football team in Richfield, but English football is American soccer, just one of the many “fish out of water” things brought up in the series. 

Lasso is a radical, unrepentant and unapologetic optimist. He sees everything as an opportunity for improvement, even when he shouldn’t. Viewed as naïve by many in his new job, he continues to spew folksy pop culture references as he works to break down barriers and cynicism.

One of the most effective and endearing ways he does this is by learning the names and something about everyone he meets, even those who think he is an idiot. His “I appreciate you” is offered time and again in a sincere manner, even as he is dismissed.

Sudeikis, who starred for years on “Saturday Night Live” is in his element as Lasso, pivoting from comedy to drama effortlessly. Hunt provides comic relief and often reinforcement as the enigmatic Beard. They play off each other well.

There is a large ensemble cast in the show that you get to know as the episodes progress. I like large ensemble casts, as long as the characters are not one dimensional. From Roy Kent, the jaded veteran at the end of his career to Rebecca Welton, the owner of the team who has an ulterior motive in hiring Lasso, there’s rich group of talented actors that make this comedy more than one dimensional.

But more than anything, I truly admire the writing. The fanatical belief that people are, at their core, good, should not be something that is radical. But in the polarized world we live in today, it can be viewed as subversive.

Kindness as a subversive act? Being nice is a way to disrupt and topple the status quo? If that’s where we are as a society, I can understand it. It makes me sad, but I get it.

That’s why I love this show. It makes no bones about being human, even if it is messy. Unconditional kindness is the medicine we have needed for decades. Now it’s hip.

If you get the chance to see “Ted Lasso,” I encourage you to watch it. If it makes you appreciate the people in your life, better yet.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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