January 3, 2021

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT:

How a Fictional Soccer Coach Showed What the World Should Be: Ted Lasso and the simple power of forgiveness. (David French, 1/03/21, The Dispatch)

And that brings me to the Apple TV dramedy Ted Lasso, why it briefly took the internet by storm, and how it reflects and models profound redemptive values--values that directly contradict our present toxic moment.

It's not giving away much to say that the conceit of the show is basically an updated and revised version of the 1989 movie Major League. It's set in the English Premier League rather than in Major League Baseball, and the owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), is trying to ruin the team as an act of vengeance against her estranged husband (who left her for a younger woman) rather than to engineer a franchise move. And how does the new owner try to ruin the team? She hires an American football coach, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), to coach an elite English soccer team. Hilarity ensues.

I started watching the show because I like Sudeikis, Nancy and I were looking for something new to stream, and I'd heard some buzz that it was far, far better than you had any right to expect. I'm not ashamed to say that it was not just marvelous, it had a moment that brought tears to my eyes. Ted Lasso isn't just a fun show to stream. It's a countercultural masterpiece.


Ted Lasso is the antidote for everything that's wrong with America (GREG GARRETT, DECEMBER 30, 2020, Baptist News)

At year end, as always, I am reflecting on the books, movies, music and TV that shaped me. During the week that my wife, Jeanie, and I finished watching the acclaimed 2020 Apple TV series Ted Lasso, thousands of Americans died of Covid-19, millions of Americans dealt with hunger insecurity, eviction, and the loss of their jobs or businesses, and the president of the United States pardoned dozens of criminals and obsessed over losing an election.

Many critics have spoken about Ted Lasso as the antidote for 2020, and they're absolutely right, but I believe this smart, funny and surprisingly moving show about an American college football coach from Kansas who moves to London to coach Premier League soccer is also the antidote for everything that's wrong with America moving forward. It's a show about amazing grace, about the importance of community and about the necessity for curiosity about those we would usually judge. I can't recommend it highly enough.

As we were falling asleep the night after finishing the series, Jeanie told the ceiling -- and me, mostly unconscious at that point, "I think it's about grace." And so it is. Ted Lasso is a show about a person who sees the best in people instead of the worst, who believes that everyone, no matter how difficult or awful, can be better.

In the process of Ted (Jason Sudeikis) extending grace to everyone -- which is such a hopeful and ridiculous idea -- one character after another begins to change. In the Christian tradition we talk about how in response to amazing grace we hope for what in New Testament Greek is called metanoia -- the 180-degree turn that represents our becoming what God calls us to be instead of what our fear and selfishness often make us.

Coach Ted Lasso says that what he cares about is transformation instead of wins and losses -- how counter-cultural is that? -- and he extends grace and forgiveness to people who most of us would write off.

Ted Lasso Nails Brits and Americans (KYLE SMITH, November 30, 2020, National Review)

Which is why Ted Lasso is cunningly engineered for our peculiar cultural moment, right here on the best side of the Atlantic. It isn't exactly a family show -- there is a lot of R-rated language -- but its wonderful first season makes for the kind of easygoing, big-hearted watch that constitutes ideal viewing among adults seeking something to watch with their parents, especially around the holidays when we're all in need of something cheery that brings us together and steers clear of divisive stuff like explicit sex, gory violence, and politics. In this season of discord, disease, and dismay, Ted Lasso reminds us of a powerful unifying force: Thank God we're not English.

Posted by at January 3, 2021 7:28 AM

  

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