Ted Lasso doesn’t need surprise to be good in season 2

TV’s nicest guy is back, as Ted Lasso and its eponymous, eternally optimistic American football coach-turned-English Premier League gaffer (played by a golden-hearted Jason Sudeikis) returns for a second season on Apple TV Plus.

Some spoilers for Ted Lasso season 1 and the first episode of season 2 ahead.

Photo: Apple

The good news: the second season is off to an excellent start, picking up a few months after the crushing loss and relegation of the fictional Richmond team down to the second-tier Championship. But unlike season 1, the new episodes don’t have the benefit of being a pleasant surprise — season 2 has been hyped up for months, including a spotlight slot at one of Apple’s tech events alongside a new iPhone announcement. Season 2 has expectations now.

Season 2 has expectations now

Unlike the first season, which largely focused on the soccer-ignorant Ted working to win over his skeptical team, the new season has the Richmond crew already on his side, even as they still struggle to actually succeed on the pitch. And it’s that climb back to sporting success that appears to be a major point of the new season, something that even Ted’s endless enthusiasm might not be able to solve on its own.

New in the second season is Sarah Niles (I May Destroy You) as Sharon, a sports psychologist brought in to help the Richmond players, who represents a cooler, more professional take on self-improvement than Ted’s warm and fuzzy persona. It’s an interesting dynamic that should be fun to see progress throughout the season.

Photo: Apple

But the most encouraging thing from Ted Lasso’s second season is just how well the show continues to work, at least so far. The first season of the show, rather improbably based on some old NBC Sport commercials, came seemingly out of nowhere last summer, before slowly snowballing into Apple TV Plus’ most unexpected hit.

The show debuted on the service with more of a whimper than a bang, before word-of-mouth and its undeniably charming cast of underdogs managed to turn the similarly underdog series into Apple’s flagship series, complete with a bevy of Emmy nominations and awards to go with it.

There were some concerns that Ted Lasso’s success could have been a flash in the pan, a combination of a highly bingeable show, Apple’s extended free trials for TV Plus, and a jaded populace just looking for something optimistic and upbeat after the relentless terribleness of 2020.

Ted Lasso’s success is more than just a fad

Season 2, however, shows that Ted Lasso’s success is more than just a fad. The show’s brand of goodness (which continues to avoid tilting over into cloying early in the second season) is, if not always relatable, at least aspirational. The show’s cast of characters ultimately feel human, and it’s hard not to root for them to succeed, whether at soccer or at just being better people.

Ted Lasso’s biggest challenge still lies ahead, though. The show returns for its second season today, with just a single episode, and will break the usual mold for streaming shows by debuting new episodes weekly for the next 12 weeks on Apple’s streaming service.

Coupled with the fact that Apple’s service just ended its free trial for all of its earliest subscribers, Ted won’t have to just win over a bunch of gruff footballers — he’ll have to get viewers to shell out Apple’s $5 per month subscription until October.

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