Okay, I’ll admit it. Ted Lasso has a certain charm to it. The charm is something like that old, tattered soccer jersey I can’t bring myself to toss out despite the dog chewing a few holes in it. Even if the badge is starting to come off, I still wear it occasionally.
Yet, I can’t say Ted Lasso is must-watch TV. While friends on both sides of the Atlantic praised the show and told me I had to watch it, I didn’t jump right into it. In fact, I didn’t watch the series until season 3 was in production.
I was put off by the “gridiron football coach moves to England to become a soccer coach” plot. It didn’t help that soccer pundits in Europe had dubbed Jesse Marsch as Ted Lasso in a sarcastic jab. It felt like the producers of Ted Lasso were unwittingly playing into the thinking of Europeans, especially the British, about American soccer coaches, players and fans being clueless about the sport.
That familiar feeling
Within the first moments of watching Ted Lasso season 1, I felt they were simply ripping off Major League, the great baseball film from 1988 starring Charlie Sheen. It also felt a bit like the show Brockmire, a baseball sitcom in which Hank Azaria created an off-the-wall play-by-play broadcast character.
It may not have been the same character or a carbon copy as the one Jason Sudeikis created, but it doesn’t feel too dissimilar. Unlike Brockmire or Major League, Ted Lasso has the charm and positivity the others lacked.
Too often, American television rides the popularity of a TV show for too long. The good news is Ted Lasso is expected to end with the show at the peak of its popularity. Season 3 is, by all accounts, the end of the line.
The season was written as the last for the series, which seems to have been the plan for start. While the show has been a tremendous hit in the United States, thanks largely to Apple TV+ and soccer’s continued growth, Ted Lasso hasn’t been the same hit in the United Kingdom.
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American love for Ted Lasso while the British feel it’s a retread
Ted Lasso isn’t necessarily about soccer. It is about relationships, club ownership and finances. One wonders how many Americans will watch the show and buy teams in England. Despite the show exploring these areas, Ted Lasso only has a niche audience in the UK.
Perhaps it is due to a lack of Apple TV+ subscribers compared to the US. In addition, cord-cutting hasn’t hit the same heights in the UK as in the US. Soccer isn’t streamed on a variety of platforms in the UK. Therefore, fans continue subscribing to satellite and cable TV to see matches. The price of satellite TV may prevent some fans from also subscribing to different streaming services, especially if they aren’t packaged with a satellite TV bundle.
Apple TV+ is only in 8.7% of homes (1.69 million) in the UK. The low number also affects the UK audience in terms of watching Major League Soccer, which started the 2023 season with little fanfare on the British side of the Atlantic. Out of sight, out of mind.
There are also other things in the show that likely turn off British soccer fans. Britons are incredibly protective of the game, in the same way baseball or American football hardcore fans are of their sport.
Ted Lasso is made for an American audience. Yet, perhaps the biggest reason Ted Lasso isn’t more popular in the UK is that fans have seen a show about an inept soccer manager before.
In 2005, comedian Ricky Tomlinson starred in Mike Bassett: Manager. The ITV series followed the 2001 film, Mike Bassett: England Manager, in which Tomlinson, as Bassett, took the reins of the England national team. The film poked fun at the Three Lions and the pressure of being the England manager. Writers produced the movie with the British soccer fan in mind. If it was remade in 2023, it wouldn’t translate to American audiences.
Is Ted Lasso season 3 worth a watch?
There is a fanbase that has already consumed the episodes released by Apple TV+ and is counting down the hours until the next. Those fans will stick by the show no matter what. Some soccer fans, like me, are not in a rush to watch the third season. We will get to it when possible.
I went into seasons 1 and 2 ready to laugh. After two seasons, I only managed to make a few chuckles. The show still entertained me. It just wasn’t the laugh-out-loud show I was led to believe it to be. Season 3 isn’t either.
If you liked Ted Lasso seasons 1 and 2, you would like the new season. If you didn’t, you probably would want to skip season 3. Ted Lasso season 3 isn’t for everyone, just like soccer isn’t for every sports fan.
Editor’s note: American soccer journalist Drew Farmer lives and works in Manchester, England.
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