Since watching the pilot two months ago, I knew I wanted to review Ted Lasso. For me, the show headlined by Jason Sudekis has taken the world by storm. I will frankly admit the show stole my heart. The show accomplished this rare feat purely by making empathy and personal growth its focus. As a soccer coach, Ted Lasso cares more about the players succeeding in life rather than on the field. This is what gives the show its joy. Ted Lasso leans into the cynicism of the world and then shows you why such coldness isn’t necessary for 2021.
The premiere episode of season two, “Goodbye Earl,” focuses on Dani Rojas attempting a penalty kick for Richmond FC to avoid their seventh straight tie since being relegated to the championship league. During the kick, the team mascot breaks free, chases a pigeon, and is killed by the ball. Coach Lasso is trying to figure out how to get Dani back to scoring efficiently, but Rojas now believes football is not life but death. A sports psychologist is brought in to help Rojas deal with the grief of the incident as Ted Lasso builds a game plan to start guaranteeing wins.
I love this season premiere because, at its heart, it is an episode about processing grief. Rojas is a vessel for what grief can do to the body and the mind. It was thrilling to see a comedy really confront the concept of grief with earnestness. Rojas isn’t the only person struggling, as Roy Kent is still trying to sort out what he wants to do now that he has retired from football.
Both stories are fundamentally important to how men process grief. What makes that theme so important is that while both men ignore the grief they initially feel, one of them admits to the pain associated with their grief, and that’s so powerful for men and young boys to see. The more men see vulnerability is imperative to experience, the more supportive and mature they will become.
One aspect of the episode that I found troubling is how Nathan treated the new kit man. I know that there is a reason behind his frankly ugly behavior. I just can’t seem to understand where that level of disregard and disrespect comes from now that Nate is a coach. My only guess is that he is using every moment to prove himself worthy of the position because he has been afforded this new opportunity.
The most interesting aspect of this story is Ted’s avoidance of the sports psychologist. I suspect his reasoning for avoiding her has a lot to do with the fact that the last time he saw professional help, it prevented his wife from divorcing him. Jason Sudekis plays the comedy in those interactions well. What I love most, though, is that with that comedy comes anxiousness, and seeing that displayed shows the audience just how vulnerable Ted is when faced with the realities of where he may have failed in the marriage.
This episode was packed with the beginning of some solid storylines for the season, and the audience will be excited to see where this team goes in its second season. I have a feeling believing in themselves may not be all that they need this football season.