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Flicks With Nicki – I Believe in Ted Lasso

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Flicks With Nicki – I Believe in Ted Lasso

Nicki Salcedo. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Years ago at work, I was criticized for my Pollyanna-like optimism. It’s still the most hurtful evaluation I’ve ever received. How could being nice be bad? Nice people are judged as naïve, weak, or fools. Why should strength mean being cruel? Why can’t intelligence also be kind? I’ve always believed you could be good, strong, kind, and smart. When I found “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, he saved my 2020 and proved what I believed could be true.

Ted is an American football coach given the opportunity to go to London to lead a struggling Premier League team, AFC Richmond. The recently divorced owner Rebecca Welton wants to ruin the team as revenge against her philandering ex-husband. She hopes Ted’s lack of knowledge about international football will sink the franchise.

When we meet Ted, we worry for him. Nice guys finish last. But he picked me up from my despair, dried my tears, and acted as my therapist. He loves everyone and everything with his simple and innocent charm. Rebecca is posh and ruthless.

I watched the first episode and felt like I knew what would happen with this underdog coach and team. By the second episode, I suspected I was wrong. Something more happens. Something different than I expected. I don’t want to spoil the story that unfolds, but it starts with this cast of characters.

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) goes to London to give his wife some space as they work out their marital issues. Though he misses his wife and family, he boldly faces this new adventure with his relentless optimism.

Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) rarely speaks and is Ted’s most trusted friend. As assistant coach, he both understands and encourages Lasso’s cheerfulness.

Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) gains ownership of AFC Richmond following her divorce. She resents her ex-husband and the people who knew about his infidelities.

Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) is an elite player aging out of his prime. As the team’s captain he wants to do what’s right, but his ever-present anger often gets in the way.

Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) has a foot “kissed by God” and is a young star player on loan from Manchester City. His colorful girlfriend Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) is famous for almost being famous.

Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) works as the team’s innocent and often bullied kit man. Nate helps Ted and Coach Beard get adjusted to the team.

The cast overflows with regulars like Higgins (Jeremy Swift) the “current” Director of Football Operations and sweet Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) who has just turned 20 years old. Trent Crimm is a skeptical journalist. Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández) might be as good as Jamie Tartt, but with a joyful energy.

Characters matter in “Ted Lasso,” from the fans around town to the guy playing the guitar in the park. Mae is the owner of the local pub, Ollie is the driver who greets Ted and Coach at the airport, Shannon is a girl who plays football around town, and Phoebe is Roy’s six-year-old niece. The surprising joy isn’t that we love only Ted, but that we love every character who walks across the screen.

Over the past year in the real world, we’ve found new ways to polarize ourselves. We fight about masks, toilet paper, school, vaccines, life, death, free speech, anarchy, truth, and lies. I’ve been accused of being too conservative on some issues and too liberal on others. It doesn’t have to be this way. I needed Ted Lasso this year. We all did.

The Lasso Way means that we don’t have to agree. Maybe we should treat each other with respect and try to do our individual best. Ted is not only kind, but also curious. He talks a lot, but he also listens and remembers. When he arrives at AFC Richmond, he puts up a simple sign that says “BELIEVE” in the locker room.

It could mean believing in Ted Lasso. Maybe it means believing in ourselves or working together as a team. Eventually we realize this: We should believe that even our smallest interactions matter. This way, we can believe in each other.

My favorite character is Keeley Jones. She seems a typical trophy girlfriend, and then we find that she is smarter than she seems. She is direct, honest, and loyal. She genuinely likes people. While Ted’s optimism is the cornerstone of the show, we discover that there are many Ted Lassos in the story. Higgins, Sam, Nate, and Keeley. Maybe Roy. Maybe one day Rebecca Welton and Jamie Tartt.

If you don’t like swearing, I’m sorry. I’m still going to ask you to watch “Ted Lasso.” The rough language is the perfect saltiness to balance his sweetness. “F**k no, F**k off, and F**k all” now feel like a warm hug.

In the story, we see grief, anxiety, self-doubt. No character is perfect. This includes Ted. We see lies and misunderstandings, but they are handled swiftly. I have many favorite lines and scenes. If you get to the episode where the Diamond Dogs give Roy relationship advice, you will understand precisely why I love this show.

In sharp contrast to the “BELIEVE” sign, the last episode of season one is called, “The Hope that Kills You.” We don’t always grow. At the end, we may still be hurt by an ex-husband or abusive father. Why should we believe in anything if that belief may one day disappoint us? Other things in life might disappoint us, but this show will not. Well worth watching and watching again. The dialogue is as funny and smart as Ted. You’ll soon understand that Ted Lasso is very smart. I believe in him. Grade A

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.

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