Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
A great show like Ted Lasso is virtually guaranteed to generate a few things. Endless praise and speculation in the industry press. Awards for deserving actors, writers and producers, and last but not least, inevitable knockoffs that try to capitalize on its success.
Here's the catch, though. Ted Lasso features a transplanted American college football coach running a troubled long-tenured soccer team across the pond in a supportive community. This isn't your typical six pals sharing a NYC apartment they could never afford or a fat husband and hot wife moving into the neighborhood. It's a nearly impossible to recreate this show.
Unless you do it in real life — or at least a version that's close to it. Enter the new FX docuseries Welcome to Wrexham, premiering this Wednesday at 10pm ET.
In 2021, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia star Rob McElhenney and Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds purchased the Wrexham Football Club in Wales. This isn't a gag. It's not a spoof. It's two stars who decided to pony up a couple million dollars to purchase the third oldest soccer team in the world.
Ted Lasso is a comedy first, but it’s also a heartwarming tale of transplanted individuals and mental health battles intertwined with the fate of a soccer team and its town. The humor in Welcome to Wrexham comes naturally as the townsfolk reluctantly embrace the new ownership that saved their beloved club. Meanwhile, Ryan and Rob wonder what the heck they got themselves into as they live out a sports fan’s fairytale.
The duo’s purchase of the club was initially greeted by the team’s fans with skepticism. Many felt the only reason it happened was to create this docuseries. Why would two American actors care about a fading team like theirs — did they love Ted Lasso THAT much?
Wrexham has plenty in common with Ted, and it's a feel-good story during a horrible time. It’s not about the team getting promoted or winning a championship. It's about getting to know the squad and the town, watching two famous Americans directly affect a foreign community while learning its ways, changing lives, and bringing smiles through sports.
Sound familiar? Now watch the real thing.
Here's what else is worth watching this week…
Running With The Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee (Netflix)
Wednesday, August 24th
You know that last name. John McAfee was the inventor of anti-virus software installed on millions of computers. He made billions selling his company to Intel. But that's the boring part of his life.
After his neighbor was found shot dead, McAfee went on the run and took a film crew with him. He was convinced that he would be killed in police custody. Oh, he also claimed the Mexican cartel was after him. Actual footage highlights the crazy real life of a wealthy man who lived his last days on the run.
Thursday, August 25th
Mike Tyson’s story keeps getting told - on stage, at the movies, and now in the form of an 8-part miniseries that Iron Mike himself calls tone deaf. This version comes from the team that created the film I, Tonya, so you can guess its tone. Watch trailer.
Everything I Know About Love (Peacock)
Thursday, August 25th
Two best young girl friends are living their best lives together until one of them gets a boyfriend and everything changes. Bel Powley and Emma Appleton star in this adaptation of the Dolly Alderton novel.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
Kevin Can F**k Himself (FX) – It’s the second (and final) season for the Annie Murphy dark comedy that alternates between multi camera sitcom and single camera drama. Returns Monday at 9pm ET.
Chad & JT Go Deep (Netflix) - The Party Bros get a prank show courtesy of Tim & Eric. Tuesday.
Little Demon (FXX) - A single mother (Aubrey Plaza) lives her life with a daughter was fathered by Satan (Danny Devito) in this animated sitcom. The voice cast is insane. Thursday at 10pm ET.
2022 MTV Video Music Awards (MTV, The CW) - MTV is borrowing a page from this year's Oscars, tapping three stars to co-host: Jack Harlow, Nicki Minaj, and LL Cool J. Sunday at 8pm ET.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: The Leftovers (HBO Max) - 2% of the people on this planet mysteriously disappear. 98% are left to deal with it. This is not a feel-good show. I am an unabashed Damon Lindelof fan (I'll defend the ending of LOST) because he appreciates good television and knows how to make it. This dark take on grief takes many weird turns and steadily improves as it goes on a memorable ride.
Deadwood (HBO Max)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.