Season 1 of Ted Lasso became a word-of-mouth hit. So even though new episodes were released weekly last year, many fans binge-watched it after the season was over. But for Season 2, many of those same fans had to endure a weekly release schedule. "In the beginning, I was unfazed," says Indiewire's Libby Hill. "Likely because entertainment journalists were given access to eight of Season 2’s 12 episodes before Ted Lasso returned on July 23. Watching the first two-thirds of the second season felt good. It was easy to track a character’s emotional arc and their state of mind from episode to episode and watching in chunks kept me on the show’s wavelength, which can be a challenge for the more dour members of the viewing public. But watching the final four episodes week-to-week felt bad, man. Which isn’t to be read as a plea for even more screener access from platforms, but rather, as a concerning realization that streaming TV is altering the ways we consume entertainment to such an extent that our narrative construction might need to change as a result." Hill adds: "It was never about trying to figure out where the show was going because it felt as though I knew exactly where it was going all along. Being able to watch that unfold at my own pace — quickly — at the beginning of the season felt good, the pacing felt right. Once the viewing process meant a week-to-week pace, I started to see where some of the fan complaints came in around midseason. Watching the early episodes in bulk made it feel like there was a decent amount of balls in the air, but taken one at a time, progress felt infinitesimal and to my chagrin, part of me wished they would just hurry up and get to the place where they were clearly headed all along." Hill's Indiewire colleague Ben Travers disagrees, saying the structure of Season 2 is what led to viewer frustration. "I’d argue there are key differences between each season’s focus and structure that contributed to the variable reactions (maybe yours! maybe not!). For instance, Season 1 plays out via a familiar, Major League-style format: Ted arrives in town, slowly wins people over, and sets up a brighter future for the people of AFC Richmond," he says. "No matter how they watched or how closely they paid attention, the debut season was easy to love. Season 2’s focus is more elusive. The team’s success is sidelined in favor of internal character development, and those developments are less predictable and more nuanced."
Ted Lasso's biggest lesson from Season 2 is showing that the kind of abusive, narcissistic domination that often passes for “leadership” is B.S.: "We now know that Ted Lasso wants to entertain us and make us laugh and put tiny dogs in tiny helmets; more shows should do all these things," says Maureen Ryan. "But we’re also aware that Ted Lasso remains committed to saying serious and thoughtful things about what it looks like to build and sustain cultures of accountability, responsibility and compassion. It ain’t just about a guy with a mustache. The finale is also proof that Ted Lasso is not thoughtlessly pushing some grating 'be kind' philosophy. Of course, I’m not dissing kindness as a concept (the mere thought of Roy hugging Jamie in 'Man City' will make me cry forever). But all too often, people with power and status treat a vague and sometimes toxic notion of “kindness” as the be-all and end-all of human relationships, and stealthily use that mantra to stifle real differences and difficult truths. The lessons of Ted Lasso, however, are not about easy answers and hero worship. This comedy is not saying you should try to be Ted; the point is not even to show that toxic masculinity is a trap, though Ted Lasso does demonstrate that a lot. No, the biggest goal is to show that the kind of abusive, narcissistic domination that often passes for 'leadership' is bullsh*t, and we can all do better. The finale finds lots of ways to come at this long-standing Lasso-vian theme, but the most riveting exploration of it arrives via that titanic encounter between Nate and Ted. In that moment, both parties are wrong—and right. On a fundamental level, Ted failed Nate, and Nate leveled up as a coach but failed the club as a human being. None of that will be easy to come back from."
Ted Lasso ultimately proved it is a show about a man, a team and their daddy issues: "Ted Lasso is apolitical by design," says Melanie McFarland. "Jokes about the prime minister or America's president are out of bounds for the same reason the script doesn't acknowledge the pandemic: like its title character, the show is a people pleaser. Fulfilling its role as a place of pure uplift in a downer of a time, it does all it can to levitate above the morass of negativity that is 2021, reality edition. And yet, one cannot ignore the fact that it is also the product of a time crushed into a jagged crystal by a petulant authoritarian whose sociopathy is attributed to a distant, aggressively prejudiced father he could never satisfy. Jason Sudeikis may not have been thinking about that specific goon when he wrote the second season finale, 'Inverting the Pyramid of Success,' or mapped out the stories leading up to it. But if he and the show's writers had bullies on the brain when they sat down to break the season, that may be because we've been living with one for half a decade. In any case, now we know what members of the cast meant when they hinted that this season was inspired by Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. They weren't talking about the rebels suffering a setback; since AFC Richmond was already relegated and lost their team mascot in the premiere, the only way to go was up. Which, in the final episode they did, rising from relegation to promotion."
Nate Shelley is TV's next great villain: "Ted Lasso's return is probably nine months away (at best), but Nate's positioning promises an undeniably juicy third season," says Proma Khosla says of Nick Mohammed's character. "Loathsome as he is, much of Rupert's antagonism in the first two seasons was off-screen. We know he was a bad husband to Rebecca, but that occurred B.T. (Before Ted), even if he's still a jerk in the present day. We barely saw Rupert this season, and the last time we did was actually to prop up Nate; to whisper insidiously in his ear at Rebecca's father's funeral and make those beady little eyes light up the way they once did for Coach Lasso."