When I discovered that Peacock was making a "Ted" prequel show, I can’t say I was especially interested. I enjoyed the two "Ted" movies released in the 2010s, but when the credits rolled on "Ted 2," I distinctly remember thinking that the concept of a foul-mouthed teddy bear come to life had been taken as far as it could go.
So, when "Ted" debuted on Peacock earlier this month, I wasn’t in any rush to watch. But then over the next few days, a strange thing started to happen — my social feeds were flooded with mutual sharing clips. And, even more surprising, the short clips they were posting had me laughing loads. So, I figured it was worth seeing if the show could maintain that level of comedy, or if I was just seeing the highlights.
To my delight, it turns out that "Ted" lives up to the social media hype. Sure, it’s got all the predictable hallmarks of a Seth MacFarlane project, but it’s also delightfully silly and oddly charming. It’s only January, but "Ted" could just turn out to be my favorite show of the year.
A boy and his bear
"Ted" follows a young boy named John Bennett (Max Burkholder) and his misadventures with his sentient teddy bear, named, you’ve guessed it, Ted (voiced by series creator, Seth MacFarlane). Far from being a cute and cuddly plushie, Ted is a sweary slacker with a nasty habit of getting in mischief and smoking lots of pot.
While the two movies focus on a grownup John (played by Mark Wahlberg), the show is a prequel and follows a 16-year-old John attempting to navigate the tricky waters of High School. Of course, growing up is challenging enough, but John’s awkward adolescence is made even more difficult by Ted constantly causing chaos.
While Ted is pretty much the worst wingman you could imagine, at its core the show is a bromance between a boy and his bear, and that’s strangely touching. Ted is a walking disaster, but he is shown to care deeply about John, and vice versa. Their friendship is well developed from the very first episode, so there’s no dramatic arc to unspool, but there are several moments between the pair that are heartfelt.
However, Ted’s main trade is laughter, and the show’s chief concern is making its audience giggle. Seth MacFarlane’s trademark style of comedy is well known at this point, so expect plenty of irreverent gags, and more than a few offensive remarks. But having watched the first half of "Ted’s" seven-episode first season, there are fewer meanspirited jokes than in MacFarlane’s other shows "Family Guy" and "American Dad."
"Ted" is generally very funny but the show also isn’t afraid to be a little more serious when it's called for. In the first episode, a tender moment between John and his cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham) discussing their dysfunctional family took me by surprise and it's the scene that sold me on "Ted" as more than just a low-brow comedy.
I’m not the only one loving 'Ted'
Ted seems to be earning himself plenty of admirers right now, as the show has earned an impressive 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. And even on IMDb, where high ratings are a little harder to come by, the Peacock original series has pulled a solid 8.1/10.
The critic score on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t quite as generous at 69% — a number that feels rather apt considering MacFarlane’s penchant for crass humor — but it’s the same score the mostly well-received first "Ted" movie got back in 2012 and a big improvement on the lackluster 2015 sequel which managed only a rotten 45% score.
You probably shouldn’t expect to see "Ted" making any major waves come next year’s awards season, but it’s a show that appears to understand its audience and it’s of a higher quality than many, including myself, expected.
You should stream 'Ted' on Peacock
If you’re looking for an easy-watching show that will make you laugh consistently, and you don’t mind the odd sprinkling of potty humor, then "Ted" is a must-watch show.
It’s far from groundbreaking, but it’s highly entertaining, and I should also give special mention to the quality of Ted’s CGI animation. The fuzzy plaything looks remarkably realistic.
Compared to the latest shows on rival streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Max, the original content on Peacock rarely seems to gain much traction, so it’s been refreshing to see so much appreciation for "Ted" in recent weeks.
Plus, It’s been a pleasant change of pace booting up Peacock for something other than Premier League live streams this month.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.