When Ted Lasso premiered back in August of 2020, the world was in the middle of a pandemic.
Tensions were running high, cabin fever was real and we were inundated with bad news on a daily basis.
The world needed a respite and it came in the form of a feel-good TV show which stars Jason Sudeikis in the titular role – an American transplanted in Britain to coach... football, and we don’t mean American football.
The comedy was a hit from the get go.
Though it is a series about sports but the appeal was that like The Office or Parks And Recreation, Ted Lasso is a workplace comedy.
But more than that, the optimistic tone of the series was a balm to many during the first few months of the pandemic.
Hannah Waddingham, who plays the boss of AFC Richmond, the football club Ted coaches, knows the effect the TV series had on many.
“You can’t beat the feeling when people come up to you and say how much (the show) got their families through one of the most difficult times in everyone’s lives. You can’t help but feel privileged about that,” Waddingham said in a virtual press conference which StarLifestyle was invited to.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on something where people are like that,” she added.
Ted Lasso is not only embraced by fans but is well-received by critics too.
It has won eight Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series two years in a row for Seasons One and Two.
Waddingham also clinched an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2021.
The 48-year-old British actress is only one of the two regular female stars in a series dominated by men (the other is Juno Temple).
However, she said that the female characters are portrayed beautifully by the writers (comprising mostly male writers, too, such as Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt).
“For me, it has been (great) working with writers that are so staunchly feminist.
“Whether it be my age group, mid 40s, or (Temple’s character) Keeley in her mid 30s, we are both fed beautifully (by the writers). (The female characters are) lovingly nurtured.
“And that’s a very unusual thing. I’ve not found women to be so beautifully looked after within a script,” said Waddingham, who recently starred in Hocus Pocus 2 opposite Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The popularity of the series lies in the fact that the writers have been able keep the show not just about sports but a balance of life, love and heartbreak.
“Very early on in the writing process Bill Lawrence, our esteemed showrunner, said quite loudly, and pretty much looking directly into my eyes, ‘IT’S NOT A SHOW ABOUT SOCCER! IT’S A WORKPLACE COMEDY’,” said writer Hunt, 51, who also stars in the series as Ted’s sidekick, Coach Beard.
“And that has been good advice. If it was to have been about the sports, it would have been a rather shallow show.
“It always had to be about the people and the relationships,” he added.
Speaking of relationships, the new season will see a different dynamic between Lasso and his trusted assistant coach Nate Shelley, who betrayed him the last season and is now coaching a rival team.
For Nick Mohammed who portrays Nate, the shift from playing a meek man at the start of the series to a villain in the current season is challenging.
“If I had any kind of comfort area in terms of previous acting experience, it was doing this awkward, fun kind of comedy, which I did in Season One.
“Then that was replaced by darker, more emotional moments (in Seasons Two and Three),” the 42-year-old British actor said.
“I’ve never done any of that (kind of acting) before, so I feel like it was intriguing and exciting to be doing something different.
“But undoubtedly, a challenge,” he said about playing an antagonist.
Ted Lasso Season Three is available on Apple TV+.