Episode 640: We’re Talking about Practice

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle Ted Lasso, a comedy about an American Football coach in the UK starring Jason Sudeikis and available on Apple TV+.

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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather team up to overthink Ted Lasso, a new comedy on Apple TV+ starring Jason Sudeikis about an American football coach who starts coaching Premier League soccer in London. They discuss the show’s structure, its real-life inspiration, the way it sidesteps politics (or doesn’t), and what it has to say about masculinity in a time where discourses of gender are undergoing critical re-evaluation.

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4 Comments on “Episode 640: We’re Talking about Practice”

  1. John C Member #

    As someone not in the Apple ecosystem, I have what I think is a relevant question: In 2020, does “fish out of water” even work between the United States and United Kingdom, or is that just a minor layer to the overall story? It feels like a globalized world makes it harder to find a geographical reason for a character to not fit in, and the UK seems particularly odd in that respect.

    Maybe I’ll catch it. It’s cheap enough and they have a Roku app, but there’s so little on Apple TV+ that I actually want to watch, sort of a microcosm of HBO Max, which also has so little I want to watch compared to the price. Eh. Eventually, maybe…


    • John C Member #

      Following up, I had some spare time, so I kicked off the free trial and started watching.

      It’s good, I agree that there are a few jokes that really don’t land and there’s no reason for them to be there, but it’s talking about a lot of important things and hiding it in Lasso’s story. Something I noticed is that the show doesn’t just interrogate masculinity, but if this was made thirty years ago, Lasso would be “coded as” female or gay, with the musical theater references, the baking, affection, and lack of interest in sports…but enough men now act like that routinely that it’s more nuanced than that.

      I will say that Apple continues to be TERRIBLE at user interfaces. Their website crashed my machine twice, when I was trying to sign up, the Roku app wouldn’t let me sign up despite having that option, and the app has only the most tedious way of signing in possible, and it’s the only platform where streaming regularly glitches. The show is still good, even after dealing with all that…


  2. DeanMoriarty #

    I watched this show over the last weekend and was surprised at how much I liked it.
    I also think it compares well to the sadly under-watched sit-com Better Off Ted. And not just because of the name and that Mrs. Lasso is played by one of the leads of the older show who was also the love interest of that other Ted. Mostly I think it’s the focus on a main and titular character who is relentlessly optimistic and loves their job. This optimism and authentic niceness is also, in both shows, in conversation with masculinity. Although in Better Off Ted it’s not a obviously male space like football, it’s very much dealing with a world of Old Boys Club type behavior and a rather noxious performance of masculinity. This is in contrast to main characters who aren’t necessarily defining themselves in opposition to it, but are nonetheless standing somewhat apart and outside of those traditional definitions and see themselves as first and foremost as nurturers to both their actual families and their work families. The presence of tough, slightly terrifying women bosses who perform and display many traditional male qualities in a position of power also made me think of the comparison.
    All that being said, I think Ted Lasso is doing it much more consciously and therefore more effectively. From what I remember of Better Off Ted, it was creating an optimistic, “nice guy” main character, but would still sometimes veer into just using the disconnect from traditional masculinity just for a joke or have the niceness of the main character just be a simple goodness not in any conversation with gender or much else other than the obvious.


    • MarkL #

      I’m a couple months behind on the podcast. Sorry for coming late to the conversation.

      In regards to ‘Ted Lasso’ being a more conscious refutation of the traditional, “boys will be boys” excuse for noxious masculinity, the primary setting for the show is a locker room, and therefore a large part of the dialogue is literally “locker room talk”!


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