It’s definitely not an understatement to say I had high expectations for Ted Lasso season 2. At first, I was resistant to giving the show a chance, but Coach Lasso smashed through my defenses and dribbled into my heart.
The first season of the Apple TV Plus show was the perfect remedy for the tough year and a bit that most of us have just endured. Thankfully, I discovered Ted Lasso a little later than many so I didn’t have to endure the torturous wait for the series’s sophomore season, but I definitely went in nervous that it would struggle to measure up.
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So, imagine my delight when the second season started strong and then only got stronger. Midway through the season, I defended the show in the wake of several prominent media critics claiming it had lost the magic. At the time I felt that season 2 was a worthy follow-up to the slightly superior first outing.
But then Ted Lasso season 2 did something nearly unthinkable, it moved up another gear. With the season finale now streaming Apple TV Plus, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: Ted Lasso 2 is better than season 1. If you don’t believe me, I’ll fight you (well, not really, I'll just try to convince you of otherwise below).
No longer an idiot abroad
The first season of Ted Lasso is certainly a well craft collection of episodes, but it does lean on one comedic trope quite heavily: the idiot abroad.
Admittedly, the show gets an awful lot of mileage from Ted being a fish out of water. As a college football coach who moves to England to become a top-flight soccer manager, he’s not only clueless about the sport but also about the customs of the country he’s living in.
Ted Lasso season 1 makes dozens of jokes at Ted’s expense for failure to understand everything from the basic rules of the sport he’s coaching to his confusion with the local currency. These gags can be humorous, but they’re also very repetitive in nature.
By the time Ted Lasso season 2 starts, the affable coach has been living in England for a full year. He’s now a fish well acclimated to his surroundings, and while there are still a couple of jokes about his lack of soccer understanding for the most part the show derives comedy from other situations.
This came as a great relief to me as by the end of season 1 I was starting to get a little tired of endless jokes that revolved around Ted misunderstanding a common aspect of English culture. Thankfully, the comedy writing in Ted Lasso season 2 is much sharper and mines gags from more unexpected places.
A whole squad of characters
Perhaps the main reason I prefer Ted Lasso season 2 over its predecessor is that the entire cast is now being utilized to their full potential. The show may bear his name, but this is no longer just the Ted Lasso show.
Basically, the entire internet has fallen in love with Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), and for good reason. Once we all agreed that he wasn’t a CGI construct, we were able to appreciate the well-written arc that saw him struggle to deal with retirement before ultimately finding his calling as a coach himself — and even making some form of peace with arch-rival Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster).
Another fantastic plot point has been the relationship between club owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) and young player Sam Obisanya (Toheen Jimoh). The reveal that Rebecca had been texting Sam all along was a series highlight for me. Even Coach Beard got his own episode this season. Although, the response to that one was fairly mixed (I personally enjoyed it).
Of course, the best arc of the season was given to assistant coach Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) who’s gone from bumbling kit man to a loveable sidekick, to full-on villain. In the closing moments of season 2, we learned he’s now managing London-rival West Ham. He’ll surely be looking to relegate AFC Richmond from the Premier League next season.
Ted Lasso season 2 did a marvelous job expanding the show’s world and showcasing a full scope of interesting characters in and around Richmond. I’m just as keen to pick up Sam and Rebecca’s story next year as I am Ted’s.
More than meets the eye
The above isn’t to say that Ted has been neglected this season. Jason Sudeikis is still excellent in the role, and Ted remains as lovable as ever but the character has been given some much-needed depth.
His interplay with sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) led to one of the season’s most emotionally impactful moments with Ted admitting that his father's suicide still weighs on him. The season has done a great job of rounding out Ted’s character and developing him into more than just a simple caricature of an eternal optimist.
Ted has been mostly unflappable, until he was not. And with this season, he's gained a sadder aspect that wasn’t really explored in the show’s first season. Taking a character who initially seemed very one-dimensional and developing him into something far more multi-layered is further credit to the show’s hugely talented writing staff.
You can’t go wrong with either
I'd argue that Ted Lasso season 1 and season 2 are both fantastic seasons of television. However, the sharper writing, more fleshed-out main cast, and deeper insight into Ted’s character give the second season a slight edge in my opinion.
While a lot of shows stumble in the often difficult second season, and the anticipation surrounding Ted Lasso season 2 was particularly high, I’m thrilled that the show managed to surpass even my own lofty expectations. I just wish that season 3 didn’t feel so far away!