As the highly popular Apple + TV show Ted Lasso makes its way through its third season, I look at why it may resonate with Londoners.

Warning: mild spoilers ahead

Ted Lasso, written and devised by Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly is at its most basic premise about an American football coach, who moves to the UK to coach ‘soccer’ - football. Lasso, played by Sudeikis, and his partner Coach Beard begin working to improve AFC Richmond, the Greyhounds, and the story line develops from there. However, the story more intricately unfolds to delve into the characters' personal lives as well as their professional pursuits of climbing the league tables and (especially in the later seasons) beating West Ham. For some reason, the fact that Lasso doesn’t entirely understand the rules of the game at the beginning of the show doesn’t hinder him nearly as much as you’d think.


Two weeks ago, the episode "Sunflowers" saw the football team go to Amsterdam, which saw more quality time spent between Roy and Jamie (Brett Goldstein and Phil Dunster), with the added bonus of an homage to ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ when Roy Kent learns how to ride a bike. However, arguably far more importantly, we are treated with a vulnerable, honest and compassionate performance by Billy Harris when Colin talks about his sexuality with reporter Trent Crimm. His urge to live a normal life, where he can reconcile both his profession as an athlete along with his home life without being a spokesperson is touching, and hopefully brings more acceptance into the sport going forward. This is not to negate Keeley and Jack’s storyline either, which brings some much needed ‘women-loving-women’ representation to the screen as well. 


That leads us into last week's episode, the aptly named "The strings that bind us"  where ludicrous training techniques and a last minute change of tactics see them ultimately lose a match against Arsenal. Defeated? Yes. For long? I don’t think so.


However, along with the bright and funny parts of the episode, there is another battle going on off the pitch, when team member Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) faces extreme retaliation due to his tweets. The tweets in question: a response to the immigration crisis opposing a (fictional) Home Secretary. Within this hate crime he is told to ‘shut up and dribble’, not only online but graffitied in his vandalised restaurant. It echoes many familiar situations that have been in the media recently, and the show is not afraid to call out the problems it can see, as well as flaws and pitfalls of the sport's culture.


Maintaining the charm of Ted Lasso is tough, but it is a powerful message of hope and kindness that gives the show its warmth and comfort. My favourite quote taken from last week’s episode, was to ‘Fight Forward’ which epitomises the need for kindness and compassion, rather than retaliation and anger. Likewise, the message to simply ‘Believe’ seems to be a fan favourite, the yellow paper hanging above Lasso’s door turning into an unofficial mascot of the team.


With characters being complex, and highlighting different factors that can contribute to people’s mental health,  the show seems to succeed in finding a balance between positivity and the sometimes less-than-comforting reality. In the words of student Abigail Melaku it does so without being ‘condescending or out of touch’ and is an ‘effective tool to teach viewers how to be a better person’.


But one of the things that makes Ted Lasso special is the people of Richmond in the show, the pub, ‘The Crown and Anchor’ based on the real pub The Prince’s Head near Richmond Green. In many scenes, Ted will interact with people in Richmond and on the green, on paths instantly recognisable to those who live in the area, and the door to Ted’s house is based on a little alleyway in the lanes of the town. People make a point to go to Richmond to see the various filming locations, whether along the river or to see the pub, and I really think there’s something special about a wholesome and loving show being set in a place that you know as well - I would highly encourage anyone who knows the area well to watch the show, just to spot the locations.


While aspects of the series may appear gloomy, the show is a genuinely heartfelt, endearing and optimistic show. And for those with a lack of appreciation for football, I am sure that within a few episodes you will find yourself rooting for the Greyhounds. And besides, if Coach Lasso doesn’t understand the off-side rule, who says that you need to?