Just under a week has passed since the airing of the final episode of the AppleTV+ show Ted Lasso. It felt very much like a series finale, which it was, although it seems a nigh certainty that they will be returning to many of the characters in some sort of spinoff.
Already they’ve pitched the laziest idea I can imagine for a spinoff, and one hinted at in the finale. You know how Ted Lasso is about a MEN’s football (soccer) team? What if the spinoff was about a WOMEN’s football team? So it’s just going to be the same show but with women? How is that interesting? It’s almost guaranteed to be a less good version of the original, but with more women.
TV spinoffs used to actually try new things. Sometimes they were great successes, like when the hit show Cheers reached the end of it’s run and they launched a spinoff centering on Frasier Crane. Frasier was also a hit in its own right. Other times they were horrible failures, like when Friends ended, and after trying to do spinoffs with virtually any of the characters but Joey (evidently none of them were interested), they made Joey, and ever since then we’ve done our best to forget it. But as bad as Joey was, at least it wasn’t just a rehash of Friends. Oh well – the spinoff will probably happen, AppleTV+ isn’t drowning in hits, and they’re going to want to try to milk this one.
But is Ted Lasso a hit? Will this show be well remembered into the future, like the shows I mentioned that aren’t Joey, or will it be largely forgotten? Maybe what I’m asking isn’t really if it’s a hit (it certainly performed well), but if it will be a classic. I can’t help but think that the answer to that is no. There’s a simple reason for it: Ted Lasso only had one great season.
Season one of Ted Lasso was GREAT. It was such a compelling and interesting story, and falling in love with the character of Ted was a wonderful experience. It was truly great seeing how characters that wanted to hate him be consistently won over by his charm and kindness. Keeping this as spoiler free as I can, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else quite like his forgiveness of a particular character when he finds out their secret. With how much they made me like Ted, I really wanted to find out one thing: What happened with his wife that made her want to divorce him? Ted seems pretty great. Why is the one person he can’t win over his wife? Is Ted too good to be true? This could make for some interesting character development.
Season one is a really strong season, and for that reason, season 2 was able to coast on it’s strength and momentum. It wasn’t bad TV, it just wasn’t great TV anymore. There were several lulls as the season progressed. But at least the characters were still largely interesting. They explore Ted’s character a bit more. There’s a lot of stuff with therapy, but in my opinion it never really goes anywhere concrete. Ultimately we don’t find much out the reasons for the divorce, other than “I don’t love you anymore,” which in my opinion is a bit like saying “I want to get divorced because I want to get divorced.”
For me, the period between season 2 and 3 was the first time I had to wait for an episode – the first two seasons were both out before I started. I looked forward to season 3. I was excited when I saw the premier date announced. Then I watched it and… I thought, “well, it could get better.” I thought that again after each of the next few episodes before resigning myself to the fact that the episodes were longer and meandering and often rather boring if not outright cheesy. It felt like they didn’t know what to do with Keeley. She really didn’t have much to do with the main thrust of the show for the vast majority of the season. Many episodes had a plotline that the episode would have been better off without. Evidently Jason Sudeikis became the show runner for season 3, and it could very well be that is the reason for the drop in overall quality and cohesiveness. Ultimately, I finished the season because even though I wasn’t really enjoying it, I started it, so I figured I’d see it through. Also, I knew it was the final season of the show, so, all the more reason to tough it out.
Ultimately, I found the ending to be largely passable. They wrapped up most things. It was overly self-indulgent, and I didn’t feel like they earned the emotion they were trying to force out of me, but it was OK. The only end that I didn’t like? Ted’s. Now, I am going to spoil this, so, if you don’t want to know, time to click away.
Are you still here? Ok, if you don’t want to know, don’t read the next paragraph.
For starters, we don’t learn anything more regarding the reasons for the divorce this season. Prior to the finale episode, we find out evidently his wife is dating their marriage counselor, Dr J, she and he take their (Ted’s) son out to see him, there’s some interaction between Ted and his ex-wife where she maybe has some lingering looks, etc. Then they leave, and then in the final episode during the big game Ted’s ex-wife and son are watching with Dr. J and he’s a giant loser the whole time who can’t ever appear to be mildly into the game for the sake of the kid. That brings us to the end of Ted’s road (last chance).
Ted flies back to the US because he had decided he wanted to be with his son. He arrives at their house. We see his son, we see his ex-wife standing in the doorway. Where is Dr. J? We don’t know. Then we see Ted coaching his son’s soccer team. We see his ex-wife watching in the stands. The end. Uhhh.. ok. There was never any exploration whatsoever of why their relationship had fallen apart, and we get a fully ambiguous ending regarding what that relationship is going forward.
For me, I’ll always fondly remember season 1, but I probably won’t ever watch this show again, nor am I likely to watch any spinoffs or resurrections, unless I’m convinced by someone I trust that it’s worthwhile after the fact.