As Josh Jackson notes, "there’s a warmth and an earnestness to Coach Lasso that on paper should come across as phony, saccharine, emotionally manipulative. Instead it’s a strange reminder of human dignity and human decency. Of seeing the good in people, even when they screw up or try to screw you over. This year, where divisiveness and catastrophe keep fighting for our attention, we needed Ted Lasso." Lawrence, who co-created Ted Lasso with Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly, says of the fortuitous timing: “I don’t want to do revisionist history and go, ‘We were aware there was going to be a constant onslaught of giant social upheaval and a pandemic.' Nobody was. But by the same token, I think it is fair to say everybody here in the States especially knew we were living in a cynical time. In the writers’ room we spoke about not just politics but even normal human discourse here had gotten to a place—especially through social media and politics—that if someone like Ted Lasso came and you met them, immediately my first reaction would be, ‘Oh this person is full of sh*t. There’s no way they’re this sincere and kind-hearted, and in a week or so the mask will come off and I’ll see they’re truly horrible.’ What happens if in a week that mask doesn’t come off, and the person is that kind and generous spirit and intent? You have to look at yourself and you end up feeling like a piece of crap.”
Ted Lasso has offered gentle, genial counter-programming for the state of the world: "Ted Lasso himself is a variation on an American archetype you don’t see much anymore, for obvious and painful reasons: the innocent naïf, the pure-of-heart bumpkin, the uncultured savant," says Willa Paskin. "(The character originated in a series of promos for NBC’s Premier League coverage.) The Brits have stiff upper lips, but Ted has a mustache you could take a nap in. Like some character out of 19th-century literature, he bounds into the U.K. to take over the middling London club AFC Richmond. It’s a job he’s landed because his jaded British boss Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) took one look at him and thought: dopey American, perfect. Rebecca, coming off a painful divorce, is out to stick it to her ex by tanking the team, and she sees Ted as the perfect mark, a rube who won’t guess her motivation. Floating on American naïveté, can-do spirit, and overconfidence, Ted thinks he just might be the man for the job, despite knowing next to nothing about soccer. The feel-good twist of the show, for Americans anyway, is: Of course he’s the man for the job!"
What takes Ted Lasso from an amusing distraction about an idiot American to one of the most lovable new shows of 2020 is its enormous heart: "In its stubborn belief that compassion and generosity can change the world for the better, Ted Lasso feels almost like a reverse Schitt's Creek, or a more light-hearted Friday Night Lights," says Angie Han. "As with those shows, Ted Lasso's gentleness feels all the more moving because it feels earned. It's not so sunny that it refuses to acknowledge the shadows; indeed, Ted admits at one point that his relentless optimism is driving his wife away. But he, and the show, presses on anyway with the mission of spreading joy and warmth. And bit by bit, Ted starts to see those qualities reflected back at him."
Why the NBC Sports version of Ted Lasso had to be changed: “It was definitely very intentional from early on,” says co-creator Brendan Hunt. “Partially because we knew that the tone of those commercials, especially that first one, was something we absolutely could not sustain over the course of the series. It would wear out pretty quickly.”
How Ted Lasso writer Brett Goldstein successfully pitched himself to play footballer Roy Kent: "So what happened was — and I still can’t believe it worked out, and I also can’t believe that I did it — basically, as we were writing it, I just started to think I could play Roy; I really get it. I really get this part. But I also knew it was not the sort of part I would usually play. I usually play a softer character. It’s probably my typecast up to that point. So I didn’t want to say anything because I thought, No one’s thinking of me for this role. And I didn’t want to embarrass anyone and make it awkward. So on my last day in the writers’ room, the night before, I (recorded a tape), five scenes as Roy, without telling anyone, and then I sent an email to Bill (Lawrence) and said, 'I’ve been thinking I could play Roy … but if this is embarrassing, you can pretend you never got this email, and I will never ask you about it.' Then I got a message from him at like three in the morning, going, 'Oh! This is good. Let’s see.' And then very luckily it all went ahead."