AFC Richmond faces ridicule as media predictions peg them as last in the Premier League. With Nate (Nick Mohammed) hailed as the “wonder kid,” and working for Richmond nemesis Rupert (Anthony Head) at West Ham, the two teams could not be more different. Roy (Brett Goldstein) steps up as assistant coach alongside Beard (Brendan Hunt) while Ted (Jason Sudeikis) wrestles with pressure from work and issues at home. Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is more focused than ever with a drive to defeat Rupert in every area and Keeley (Juno Temple) navigates the professional world of being her own boss. Things are chaotic for Richmond but Ted’s infectious positivity remains to be a driving force for the team and the series.
Ted is now more familiar with English football but the humour of him not knowing who a world-famous player is falls flat. It may have been a funny anecdote in the first season, but is now a tired joke which begs the question that Ted has raised himself: what is he still doing in London? If not, is he unwilling to learn, or just that clueless? As a football fan, Ted’s desire to win everything instantly makes you think of Jurgen Klopp winning everything at Liverpool. While this isn’t a documentary, it raises some eyebrows that he still does not know and coach Beard does.
The third season opens with Ted at the lowest point in his life. He is dishevelled in his physical appearance with his apartment matching, struggling with his son going back to America and feeling lost in his role within the club- even wondering why he is still in London. Only when his son leaves and he must go back to work does Ted clean himself up and put on a brave face for the team. Season two added some sorrow and complexity to the sitcom that carries over as Ted shares with the press about his panic attacks and uses it as a source of light and humour, adding more to his infectious positivity and leaving hope that he is embracing his anxiety instead of smiling it away or ignoring it. As a football series, it is inaccurate, but you can’t help but forgive that in favour of Ted’s attitude and charm.
The humour remains at the start of the third season with Jamie Tarrt (Phil Dunster) carrying a lot as he grapples with his place in the team but is determined to get back to top spot with Roy as his coach. The two share some great comedic moments but also some touching ones as they bond.
The worst part of the series so far is the mentions of Roy and Keeley’s relationship. It feels like too much when Ted’s relationship breakdown is so front and centre of his arc, but is a relief when it switches to Roy taking on more of a mentor role with Jamie.
Speaking of Ted’s relationship drama… given Sudeikis’s role as co-creator and the news about his drama filled breakup with Olivia Wilde, it could be a little telling that Ted’s main focus of the season is not the rivalry with West Ham but focusing on his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, not focusing on the game but obsessing over the new man in her life. It may be a coincidence, but the timing is particularly interesting and a little distracting given how dominant that storyline is instead of football.
The rivalry with West Ham from Rebecca and Rupert is one of the most interesting aspects of the season. Rebecca truly takes control, is ruthless but fair in her desire to beat Rupert that is matched with a great performance by Waddingham making Rebecca one of the strongest characters of the season. Nat remains one of the most irritating and nasty characters on TV, but a credit to Nick Mohammed for making him so easy to hate and root for his downfall. While West Ham and Nate resort to below-the-belt personal attacks and snubs, Ted and Richmond keep their dignity and prove that sometimes the nice guy can win, just not all the time.
While the season can take a minute to get going, Sudeikis remains the heart and soul of the series with his awful but smile-inducing dad jokes, rhymes and puns remains a staple in creating his charm and positivity. There is one moment when morale is low in the team where Ted takes them down a sewer that feels like a reach but enjoyable nonetheless but helps set the tone for the series. Draw on each other when in need and Ted starts to do that. Some characters feel lost such as Keeley whose scenes so far have been the most uninteresting and disconnected but with promise to improve with the addition of Jack (Jodi Balfour). For the rest of the season, the hope is that the rivalry with West Ham takes more of a centre position instead of remaining on the bench, but it is a strong start to the season with some fun moments..
Ted Lasso is the MVC as his infectious optimism during his internal crisis and growing pressure of the season makes you want a real-life Ted in your life. Ted shows time and time again, his class and perseverance as well his compassion that make him a pleasure to watch, as usual!
Four episodes of season 3 were screened for review.
Ted Lasso season 3 premiers 15th March 2023 on Apple TV+.