Watch the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso now. Seriously. Not only will it entertain you, but it will surprise you (even after reading this review). It will lift you up, motivate you, and remind you what’s possible when you let goodness outshine negativity. When’s the last time something out of Hollywood did that? It is the most Christian, non-Christian show I have ever seen. And, as someone who has struggled my whole life with being misunderstood by those around me, I’m changing some things because of it.
Before I go on, this show does have explicit language and some sex stuff, mostly talk. So it’s not for kids. But if you can handle it, please do so. Pay the $4.99 for one month of Apple TV+ to watch it. There’s also a 7-day free trial, and once you start, you will easily finish all ten episodes in a week. Easily.
Who is Ted Lasso?
Ted Lasso is based on a series of promos by NBC Sports starring SNL alum Jason Sudeikis, released when they started broadcasting the English Premier League. The basic premise of the show is ripped from the plot of one of the greatest baseball movies ever, Major League (as a lifelong Cleveland sports fan, Major League is part of the canon), where the wealthy new owner of the team is intentionally trying to lose, and in this case hires an American football coach named Ted Lasso to manage and destroy her English football club.
Ted’s misunderstanding of all the differences between American and English football (what good is a tie?), American and English culture (tea will always be awful), American and English water (the bubbles in sparkling water may surprise you), and American and English English (calling someone a “wanker” is a good thing, right?), makes for some funny moments. You’d think, however, that the puns would get old quick and the show would go from novelty to dumb by the end of the first episode, but then something magical happens. You won’t want it to end.
(Like most shows nowadays, the pilot is actually the weakest episode. Be sure to give it at least through episode two. That’s when the show truly finds its groove.)
Faced with enmity from pretty much everyone around him—his players, his owner, the press, the fans—Ted proceeds to win over each person, moment by moment, by being genuinely kind and interested. Sure he’s an idiot at times, and he’s a flawed guy who is hurting (to be explained in a later episode), but deep down, he’s a genius because he understands what people really want, and he gives it to them. He’s relentlessly positive. He pays attention to the little things about each individual he comes across, from the star player to the lowly clubhouse attendant who no one can remember his name. It’ll make you want a Ted in your life. And it’ll make you want to be a Ted.
In one early scene, Ted takes a reporter who is trying to destroy him to dinner. They go to a local Indian restaurant because Ted had previously told the airport driver that he’d be happy to visit his family’s restaurant. Most people say stuff like that as a way to move on with their day, but Ted really meant it, and to the surprise of both the reporter and the driver, he did what he said he’d do. The whole family is honored to have the local football manager show up. The reporter is unexpectedly moved. And Ted, who had never tried Indian food before, gets a lesson in what spice can do to the body.
One of Ted’s mantras is, “Be curious, not judgmental” (Walt Whitman may or may not have said that, the Internet is unclear), and he lives it out in wonderful ways as he infects each person he touches in a powerfully non-COVID way.
Why Jesus Would Love Ted
Like you, I’ve crushed entire shows during quarantine. And I’ve watched some pretty good ones (Peaky Blinders, Succession, Away, Money Heist, Ozark, The Mandalorian…this is getting embarrassing). I agree with those who say we are in the golden age of TV. But the pattern is often the same, where a show must increasingly up the drama and raise the shock value while totally destroying the lives of every character you grow to love until it reaches a point where each episode only creates more stress, anxiety, disdain, and bewilderment at how that person can come back to life…again. With Ted Lasso, it’s different. It’s just Ted being a source of goodness in the life of each person he meets, and people’s lives getting better because of it.
I said this is the most Christian, non-Christian show I’ve seen because there isn’t a hint of faith in the show. After all, it takes place in the UK, where faith is basically non-existent. But every single thing that Ted does is what Jesus tells his followers to do.
Ted goes on a crazy adventure that everyone thinks will fail (2 Corinthians 11:26). Ted is struggling deep down, but that does not stop him from treating people right (Luke 6:31). He does not judge but is simply curious about the person in front of him (Matthew 7:1). He uses his words to build people up when all they do is sneer at him (Ephesians 4:29). He focuses on the well-being of others, despite his own pain (Philippians 2:3-4). He turns the other cheek when people put him down (Matthew 5:39). He forgives even when it’s hard (Matthew 6:14). He shines light on others with every opportunity (Matthew 5:16).
Someone in that writer’s room must be a believer in Jesus. And if they’re not, they have tapped into something that is eternally true because Ted looks to the people around him how every follower of Jesus is supposed to look to people in this world but so seldom do.
How Ted Lasso is Making Me Better
No matter what personality test I take, it will come out with an answer that says I’m not good with people. I’m a 5 on the Enneagram (the Investigator), and an INTP on the Meyers-Briggs (with a really heavy I for an introvert). I scored a 2 on the sympathetic scale on the Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis (that’s out of 100! That was really encouraging for my then fiancee). And on the StrengthsFinder, my highest score was for “Responsibility.” I didn’t even know that was a thing you could be good at.
It’s little wonder that the most common feedback I hear from people is, “I thought you hated me.” I don’t hate anyone. I just often don’t see them because I’m wired to focus on what’s next. But watching Ted Lasso has caused me to really think about changing that. I like who I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spend just a couple of seconds more on each person around me, noticing what they like, being interested in them, and encouraging them. Joking around with someone can rejuvenate. Asking questions can rehabilitate. Calling out the good in people can revitalize. I can do more of all of it.
If you aren’t a Christian, watch Ted Lasso because it’ll make you happier. If you are a Christian, watch Ted Lasso and ask yourself if you look like Ted to those around you. If you don’t, you might not really be one. (Sorry about that last line. I’m still working on my people skills.)
What strikes you most about this article? Why that?
How do you come off to people? List the first five reactions that come to mind. How do you feel about those? Are they positive, negative, neutral? Do they inspire you to grow? What if steps to change could start as simply as replicating something you see in Jason Sudeikis? (OK, it actually traces back to Jesus, but you might find Jason less intimidating.) If you’re not sure how others receive you, ask a few people this week.
Did you know any truly good art is always pointing back to a core truth of God? Anything that moves us resonates because it’s reflecting some good that ultimately came from God. How could you connect with media differently if you let God highlight spiritual truths in it for you? And then even your time spent watching Netflix could be a time of connection with Him?
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