MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, October 16th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A new Apple TV series is winning rave reviews across the political spectrum.
But she says while it deserves much of the applause, you still may not want to watch it.
MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: I debated for about a week whether I should review Ted Lasso, a new hit comedy on Apple TV. The series about an American college football coach who inexplicably decides to accept a job coaching an English soccer team is like nothing else streaming right now.
CLIP: How about I go ahead and address the larger than average elephant in the room. No I have never coached the sport that you folks called football at any level. Heck, you could fill two internets with what I don’t know about football. But I’ll tell you what I do know, I know that AFC Richmond, like any team I’ve ever coached, he’s going to go out there and give you everything they’ve got for all four quarters. Ah. What was that? 2/2. Oh right, sorry halves. Yeah, they’re going to give you everything they’ve got for 2/2 win or lose. Or tie. Right, y’all do ties here.
The show’s warm heart and hilarious characters have transcended the culture divide. When conservative Christian writer David French and the hard-left feminist web site, The Mary Sue, are both singing its praises, you know you have something unusual on your hands.
CLIP: So these fellows are from all over the place? Well he must be from England, yeah? Wales. Is that another country? Yes and no. How many countries are in this country? Four. Kind of like America these days.
At first, you suspect Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis, might be a simpleton, a pushover. But as we get to know him, we realize his gentleness with nearly everyone he meets is actually his strength.
In an age where anti-heroes reign supreme, where we’re asked to chip through hard exteriors of snarkiness, promiscuity, and disrespect to find the gold heart within, Ted wears kindness and fidelity on his sleeve. He is, at root, a father figure to the overgrown boys on his team. Men who clearly missed strong male mentoring in their lives.
CLIP: Why are you winding him up? He’s the one coach. We’re gonna make an impact here and the first domino that needs to fall is right inside that man’s heart.
Nate the stammering and timid kit manager requires a challenge to step up and assert himself. Cruel and cocksure Jamie needs to be taken down a peg. There’s no one-plan-for-success-fits-all.
When we do finally see Ted get tough, it’s all the more powerful because he uses anger so sparingly.
CLIP: You’re sitting in here, you’re supposed to be the franchise player. And yet here we are, talking about you missing practice. We are talking about practice. Do you understand me? Practice. Not a game, not a game, not the game you go out there and die for, right? Play every week like at your last, right? No, we’re talking about practice. You know you’re supposed to be out there. You’re know you’re supposed to lead by example. You’re just shoving that all aside. And so here we are Jamie, we’re talking about practice. Not a game. Not the game. We’re talking about practice. With your team. With your teammates. The only place we get to play together, that we’ve got control over. The rest of the time is us 11 against those 11. We’re talking about practice, man. I’m talking about practice. And you can’t do it. Because you’re hurt. Right? Fine by me. Tell you what, do me a favor, when you get out there, set the cones so the other reserves can do a little path and drill. Do you want me to set up cones? I really appreciate it.
Some other Christian critics have said the show warns against toxic masculinity or placing too much importance on winning. I couldn’t disagree more.
What we see through the full arc of the story is that it is a lack of male leadership that leads to unbalanced men. That’s the real threat to a culture. It actually argues that winning can be very important. And sometimes we don’t fight to win because we’re too afraid or egotistical, or because losing will make us more popular. It’s a reminder that even Ted needs from his most trusted adviser.
CLIP: Look, I understood this mission when we were in Kansas. But those were kids and these are professionals and winning does matter to them. And it matters to me. And that’s okay. How do you not get it? Losing has repercussions. We lose, we get relegated. We get relegated, this is over and we will have built nothing. And if you want to pick a player’s feelings over a coach’s duty to make a point, I don’t want to drink with someone that selfish.
So given all this, why was I hesitant to cover Ted Lasso? Well, rumor has it that Apple is trying to differentiate itself from other streaming platforms by not featuring sex, violence, and nudity. And that is certainly the case here. But Apple hasn’t made any concessions with language. With the exception of Ted himself, the show features near-constant profanity. I will say, though, the fact that he doesn’t speak like everyone else in his world only makes his different, and clearly better, approach to life stand out in sharper relief.
So while you may not want to watch it, Ted Lasso should make you smile for this reason: When we see a story that shows us good men doing good work, almost everyone still stands up and cheers.
I’m Megan Basham.