Ted Lasso fans need to watch Netflix's Sunderland 'Til I Die

An image from Sunderland 'Til I Die on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

If the weekly wait between new episodes of Ted Lasso season 3 on Apple TV Plus is proving almost unbearable, don't worry. Netflix has the perfect show to help you fill the time between new installments of the plight of everybody’s favorite soccer coach. 

Sunderland ‘Til I Die is a documentary series that originally hit on Netflix in 2018, with a second season in 2020. A third mini-season is planned for this summer. As the name suggests, it follows the English soccer team Sunderland as they look to bounce back to the Premier League after being relegated to the Championship, the second tier of English football

Much like AFC Richmond in Ted Lasso, the doc is about a scrappy team of underdogs looking to prove themselves and battling a whole bunch of adversity around them. Oh and if you enjoy Welcome to Wrexham (on Hulu in the U.S. and on Disney Plus elsewhere), Rob McElhenney has cited this documentary as a huge part of the reason he convinced Ryan Reynolds to help him invest in the Welsh club. 

Sunderland is the ultimate underdog story 

The first season of Sunderland ‘Til I Die is set across the 2017/18 season, and sees the Black Cats (that’s the club's nickname) attempt to make an immediate return to the Premier League. I won’t spoil the outcome here, but let’s just say it’s an eventful campaign that is filled with dramatic moments. 

Even if Sunderland has enjoyed a prolonged period in the Premier League in the 21st century, the club is still very much one of the underdogs of English football. And the documentary does a good job of making you want to root for the team’s success — unless, of course, you’re a fan of Newcastle United, Sunderland’s local rival (which I happen to be). 

Much like Ted Lasso, Sunderland ‘Til I Die succeeds because it showcases that there’s so much more to a sports team than just the performances on the pitch itself.

For the unaware, Sunderland is located in the North East of England and is an area that has been somewhat neglected over the last few decades. Much like Wrexham, it’s a city where the success of the football team really does matter, and the documentary’s decision to focus on the plight of some of the local supporters alongside the players and club staff is a wise one. It adds extra stakes to the events on the pitch and is a reminder that ultimately sport is all about the fans rather than the final result.    

Much like Ted Lasso, Sunderland ‘Til I Die succeeds because it showcases that there’s so much more to a sports team than just the performances on the pitch itself. The personal lives of the players are touched upon, as well as the hard work of the staff behind the scenes from the kitchen to the boot room. And even if Sunderland isn’t quite as Hollywood as AFC Richmond, both clubs definitely share some DNA. 

Outlook: Sunderland breaks the bad sports doc trend

There’s also a real feeling of authenticity about the docuseries. If you’ve watched any of the All or Nothing sports documentaries on Prime Video, you’ll know that sports docs can feel like merely stealth marketing for the teams involved. However, this Netflix show is the opposite, it’s a "warts and all" telling of what happens across a grueling season of soccer. 

So, if you’re already an avid soccer fan, or Ted Lasso has recently sparked your interest in learning more, Sunderland ‘Til I Die is a great way to get fully immersed and might just help you understand why the sport is the most popular in the world.   

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

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.