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As beloved Apple TV+ show “Ted Lasso” takes to the screen once again, Jason Sudeikis and company remind us why we just can’t stop coming back for more. Retaining its signature wholesome humor and lovable, dynamic characters, “Ted Lasso” stands out as some of the best in television right now, and Season Three seems prepared to hang onto that mantle.
The premiere, “Smells Like Mean Spirit” opens, perhaps unexpectedly, with a somber Ted (Jason Sudeikis) in Heathrow Airport accompanying his son (Gus Turner), who is soon to leave England and return to Kansas to live with his mother, Ted’s now ex-wife. After the first two seasons beautifully portrayed the different stages of Ted’s marital issues, from initial failed attempts at reconciliation to a long battle towards acceptance, maybe it’s no surprise that the premiere immediately sets up the continuance of this personal conflict.
Ted’s marital journey is far from the only returning subplot, however, as some of the show’s most beloved faces crop up again. Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) is adjusting to his role as Richmond head coach knowing that he lacks the “tactical super brain” that he claims Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) — now manager at rival West Ham United — possesses. Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) shines as the head of her new PR firm, and the actual football (or soccer, for Americans) team is largely unchanged, with star man Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) now solidly integrated into its easy-going atmosphere.
“Smells Like Mean Spirit,” however, certainly does not disappoint in giving its fair share of intrigue; with every known, comfortable facet of the show, the premiere tosses a new variable. We find out that Keeley and Roy’s relationship has suddenly ended, naming an excuse of busyness but hinting at deeper troubles that Season Three will be sure to explore, especially given ex-boyfriend Jamie Tartt’s development into a much humbler man. Furthermore, team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) seems to have gained a previously absent drive to win at all costs, especially with regards to beating her ex-husband and West Ham owner Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head).
Within these new plot lines, there do seem to be some slight disconnects. Rebecca’s sudden urge for the championship seems somewhat out of character; she certainly rooted for Richmond before, but her new, avid concern with winning the title feels a little artificial. Gus Turner’s performance remains somewhat subdued, especially given Elodie Blomfield’s spectacular portrayal of Roy’s elementary school-aged niece, Phoebe. Rupert continues to be nothing but a villain; his character feels more one-sided than ever as he begins to groom Nate to turn against his old club as much as possible.
And then there’s the choice of a rival team: West Ham isn’t the worst Premier League team out there (although in real life they’re currently in 18th place out of 20), but are the “Ted Lasso” pundits really predicting them to go top four? The last and only time West Ham finished in the top four of the first tier of English football was in the 1985-86 season, before the Premier League existed. As such, claims like Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) calling West Ham “top dogs” are more cringeworthy than anything.
Despite these drawbacks, the show’s biggest strength remains the title character himself, Ted Lasso. In a new season with higher stakes, different motives, and relationship shifts, Ted remains his unique, optimistic, and overall lovable self. Despite constant pressure from Rebecca and undeserved criticism from Nathan, Ted is determined to keep on the road of kindness and care for others above all else. Sudeikis’s beautifully warm character continues to feel like a much-needed hug for the audience in a way that made us fall in love with the show in the first place.
With new crises to navigate, friends to assist, and mental health issues to deal with, Season Three of “Ted Lasso” certainly won’t be easy running for our favorite fake football team. But, with Ted at the helm, his friends at the heart, and the team as strong as ever, Season Three promises to deliver a whole slew of wonderful adventures for the Nelson Road gang.
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