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More Ted Lasso Actually Means More of Everyone Else

Season 3’s extended runtimes give the rest of the ensemble cast a chance to shine in the spotlight.
  • Cristo Fernández, Kola Bokinni, Toheeb Jimoh, and Billy Harris in Ted Lasso (Photo: Apple TV+)
    Cristo Fernández, Kola Bokinni, Toheeb Jimoh, and Billy Harris in Ted Lasso (Photo: Apple TV+)

    Ted Lasso prides itself on its overarching theme that kindness prevails. Specifically, how Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) optimistic life philosophy is able to change the lives of those who interact with him, both on and off the pitch. But while everyone else in the cast continues to progress beyond the person they were introduced as, Ted’s own journey remains fairly stagnant.

    The same can’t be said for the broader show, which is poised to become a supersized version of itself in its third season. The first three episodes have each been expanded to be up to 50 minutes long, a stark contrast from Season 1’s crisp 30-minute runtimes. Ted Lasso would appear to be undergoing the Stranger Things effect, as the extended episode lengths are more in service to the growing ensemble cast (which the show also presents through the increased number of cast members included in the opening credits.)

    [Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Ted Lasso.]

    During an interview with Variety, Sudeikis addressed the expansion: “In the first season, we didn’t know if people were going to like these guys and gals as much as we did. And then they did, and we got to investigate and explore those side characters, and the internal struggles within our main characters a little bit more in Season 2.” With Season 3, Sudeikis said he wanted to further investigate “some of those characters and the choices they’ve made throughout those seasons. Yes, Ted and Rebecca, Keeley, Roy. But people also want to figure out what’s cooking with Sam, Nate, Colin and Danny. Each one of them can carry a storyline.”

    The longer runtimes allow for other characters to come to the fore, juxtaposing Ted’s stalled arc with the more interesting storylines that center his colleagues and friends. Ted’s mental health continues to be a topic of discussion in Season 3, as the show further illustrates the effects of his divorce. In Episode 3 “4-5-1”, it’s revealed that Ted’s ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) is now dating their former marriage counselor. But rather than demonstrate how the news may be influencing his role as a coach, the show instead intersperses clips that downplay the severity of Ted’s depression with various other character moments, including a prolonged montage of Richmond’s newest player Zava (Maximilian Osinski) leading the team to back-to-back victories. Scenes of Ted drunk stalking Dr. Jacob’s Facebook profile, or his therapy session with Sharon (Sarah Niles) in which he complains about Michelle’s new relationship, are played off as humor rather than an area for potential growth.

    Ted Lasso Season 3 offers much richer conflict away from the Richmond pitch. Keeley (Juno Temple) is onto brighter endeavors as she manages her very own PR firm, though her bubbly personality clashes with the rest of her staff, particularly with her stern CFO Barbara (Katy Wix), who dismisses most of Keeley’s ideas for brightening up the office. Keeley’s arc also appears to be setting the stage for a potential spinoff (one of several being considered), given that Season 3 is likely to be the show’s last, and KJPR serves as an ideal backdrop for an exciting new adventure. On the other hand, Nate (Nick Mohammed) has completely isolated himself from Richmond, coaching West Ham under Rupert’s (Anthony Head) manipulative gaze. In both cases, viewers get to see the effects of Ted’s life lessons and how they influence two different sets of circumstances, as Keeley embraces positivity and kindness in her new workplace while Nate completely rejects it.

    Trent Crimm (James Lance), formerly of The Independent, takes on a larger role this season as he plans to write a book about Richmond’s upcoming football season. In Episode 2 “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea,” he’s initially met with hostility from Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), who convinces the rest of the team to stay silent whenever Trent is around. It’s later revealed that Roy still harbors resentment from one of Trent’s early articles, in which he shattered a 17-year-old Roy’s confidence in a column criticizing his Premier League debut. In a shared moment of vulnerability, Trent apologizes for his words, stating that he was trying to make a name for himself as a young journalist and thought he was being edgy. Their reconciliation points to yet another classic Ted Lasso redemption arc, following a pattern set by the show’s treatment of Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster).

    Season 3 also provides audiences an opportunity to get to know the supporting members of AFC Richmond beyond the occasional one-liner. In Episode 3, Ted Lasso introduces a secret relationship between Colin (Billy Harris) and new character Michael (Sam Liu), whom Colin introduces as “the world’s greatest wingman” to the rest of the team. Meanwhile, Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) officially launches his restaurant, an ode to his Nigerian background and a welcome diversion from his Season 2 relationship with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). These extra layers of personality are essential to the show’s world-building, as they provide a necessary depth to characters that were previously underexplored.

    Ted Lasso’s extended episodes deviate from the rules of sitcom television, challenging the traditional half-hour runtimes we’ve come to expect in comedy, in an effort to give the rest of the ensemble cast a chance to shine as individuals. As Ted Lasso approaches what is likely to be the end of its line, Season 3 is demonstrating just how much the show cares about its own characters and its journeys by increasing its scope to center their stories.

    New episodes of Ted Lasso drop every Wednesday on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.

    TOPICS: Ted Lasso, Apple TV+, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, James Lance, Jason Sudeikis, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, Toheeb Jimoh