Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second season of Ted Lasso, up through Episode 8. Originally written 9/12/2021 in my Day One journal (or as Matt Mullenweg would say, my private blog).
We’ve made it through Ted Lasso, S2 Ep. 8 now, and I have to say, I don’t find myself enjoying it. The writers have decided to deconstruct Ted’s character and drag all of us viewers along for the ride. What used to be charming colloquialisms and clever pop culture references, in the first season, now are portrayed as nervous tics. Ted’s ability to read people and bring out the best in them now seems diminished in significant ways. He can’t even give a pep talk without messing up most of it. In the first season, Ted was almost impenetrably cheery. He took criticism, and anger and let them bounce right off. This season, his uncertainty and self-doubt are nearly constant.
When I saw the intro for episode 8, I was surprised that there was a warning for violence as well as language. The language warning was familiar (and well needed) but the violence warning seemed new. When Jamie attacked his father, it was like the writers just hit a dead end at how to portray their relationship. At some point, the stories of acrimony from Jamie’s perspective weren’t enough. They felt they had to show us just how bad it was. Gone are the guilty pleasures of Rebecca’s ways of undermining Ted as the primary source of conflict, replaced by raw physical assault.
The losses, even with high stakes like being relegated, didn’t seem to really affect anyone in the first season, so sure was Ted’s enthusiasm for making the players better people. In the second season, even the failure to achieve unlikely wins are a cause for existential dread. Nate, the unlikely success story of last year’s shows, now seems like a villain, lashing out at others as he tries to hold his spot on the ladder of success.
In 2020, the show gave us the feel good television we needed so desperately, as most of us hunkered down indoors trying to insulate ourselves from a global pandemic. For a year that in many ways is shaping up to be just as bad, turning the tables on us and giving us this season of Ted Lasso feels a bit like the punch in the face that Jamie gave his dad.
I hate to admit it, but I’m not enjoying this season of Ted Lasso. I think it’s because of Nate. In The many betrayals of “Ted Lasso”, Nate’s arc is positioned as a reminder of how the real world functions. I know how it functions. I watch Ted Lasso to be shown something better.
I found it interesting that the phrasing of my reaction to S2 was so similar to Jack Baty’s.