I recently labeled Ted Lasso season 3 my “biggest TV show disappointment in years” but after consuming a couple more episodes of the Apple TV Plus series I would like to revise that stance. Because this latest, and potentially final, season of the soccer-themed comedy series isn’t merely disappointing, it’s a downright disaster.
In fact, I’m finding each new episode such a chore to finish that I’m starting to wonder what I ever saw in this show in the first place. I’m finding Coach Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) more nauseating with each passing scene, and I’m now actively rooting for whoever AFC Richmond is playing against each week. I’m starting to hope they get relegated back down to the Championship! For the Americans out there: the Championship is the name of the tier under the Premier League.
All the problems I discussed in my first article remain very much present. The writing continues to be aimless and the stretched-out hour-long episodes painfully drag on, but new issues are appearing at an alarming rate as I progress in Ted Lasso season 3.
In a matter of weeks, Ted Lasso has gone from a show I would enthusiastically recommend to all, to something that I can’t wait to stop watching. And that really sucks. I don’t particularly want to watch, think or even talk about Ted Lasso anymore, but as Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) told Ted in season 2, you can’t go bottling up your feelings, so here are the latest reasons this once-great TV show is drawing my ire.
The Nate storyline ain’t great
The tragic downfall of assistant coach Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) was one of my favorite parts of Ted Lasso season 2. His fall to the “dark side” was expertly crafted and the scene where he angrily confronts Ted remains one of the show’s best-ever moments. I was thrilled to see where this plot would go now that Nate is the manager of West Ham.
I expected over the course of season 3, that Nate would start resentful but then slowly realize he’d made a mistake, have it out with Coach Lasso, and likely be redeemed towards the end. But Ted Lasso season 3 has instead decided to skip straight to that final step without doing any of the legwork.
As a viewer, we’re being asked to root for Nate in his quest to find love, but we’ve not been given any reason to actually like him again. His redemption arc has been entirely skipped.
Nate and Ted have had only a single face-to-face scene together so far this season, and the hatchet is most definitely not buried. My dislike for Nate's actions last season still burns brightly, and I’m finding it very difficult to care about his love life or whether or not he gains the approval of West Ham owner Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) he so desperately desires.
The fact that Nate’s love interest, Jade (Edyta Budnik), is a complete nothing burger of a character with zero personality (a flaw of the writing, not Budnik’s performance) is not helping matters either.
Fan-favorite characters have nothing to do
Ted Lasso season 3 has constantly struggled to juggle its large cast. This problem hasn't been helped by the introduction of unnecessary new characters like Zava (Maximilian Osinski). But the two of the biggest victims of this issue have been fan-favorites Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham).
Roy Kent has been sidelined pretty much all season. After his off-screen breakup with Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), he’s just sort of been hanging around. His gruff man shtick is getting pretty old at this point, and his bromance with Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) was already covered in season 2 anyway. Frankly, Roy feels like a spare part that the writers just don’t know what to do with right now.
The same is very much true of Rebecca, the owner of AFC Richmond. Her storylines have been all over the place this season covering everything from a visit to a psychic, her unresolved feelings for right back Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), concerns about her fertility and a fun evening with a hunky Dutch bloke who lives on a riverboat.
The consistency of the writing has dropped in quality across the board, but Rebecca has been one of the biggest victims, which is a great shame as Waddingham is fantastic in the role.
Even Keeley, who’s getting more screen time than ever this season, is spinning her wheels far too regularly even when she's supposed to be at the center of a storyline that isn't really about her. And, as I’ve said before, the fact it’s the two leading female characters who are suffering the most due to a clear drop in writing quality this season is especially disappointing.
But wait, it gets worse!
One of the big questions that Ted Lasso season 3 has me asking is, “Who is this show even aimed at?” It’s a potty-mouth series with plenty of adult gags, but also includes segments such as the “Hey Jude” scene in episode 8 which felt ripped straight out of a family movie primarily targeting young children. In fact, Coach Beard’s (Brendan Hunt) speech had my toes curling.
Now Ted Lasso was always a pretty saccharine show, but in season 3 its crossed way over the thin line between heartfelt and sappy. And the whiplash that comes from overly mushy sentimentality being followed by a scene where the cast tie strings to their genitals and run around a soccer field, is hard to get over.
There’s a tonal mishmash at the heart of Ted Lasso season 3, and this isn’t helped the writer's desire to tackle every single social issue under the sun in a very simplistic way. I have no problem with the show addressing current and important issues like homosexuality and immigration, but these big topics are often handled with all the subtly of a children’s preschool show. Frankly, Ted Lasso season 3 has all the nuance of an episode of Sesame Street.
For example, looking back at episode 8, the disastrous “We’ll Never Have Paris”, there is a scene where the AFC Richmond squad discusses Keeley’s leaked sex tape. They agree that they should delete any explicit images they’ve ever been sent by a current or former partner, and that fundamentally Keeley shouldn’t be ashamed of her actions, it’s the person who leaked the video online that is at fault.
Let me be clear: this is an excellent message to send to viewers, and I firmly agree with the show’s conclusion that Keeley is a victim of a violation of her privacy. However, the way the scene plays out is downright patronizing. Each character took their turn to stand up and deliver their unnatural-sounding dialogue practically directly at the camera. It all felt like watching an afterschool special — and a bad one at that.
Outlook: Ted Lasso is a chore to watch now
The most damning indictment of my newfound dislike for Ted Lasso is that I’m finding it a real chore to sit down and watch episodes in a single sitting. I’ve consumed the last few episodes in bitesize sessions because watching the show for a whole hour at once is seriously unappealing to me.
I’m sure that a lot of love and care has gone into making Ted Lasso season 3, and following up two extremely well-regarded seasons would be tough task for any creative team, but I’m genuinely shocked at how far Ted Lasso has fallen and how quickly as well. This show was once the reason to get Apple TV Plus, but it’s been eclipsed by the likes of Shrinking and Trying in my eyes.
With just three episodes left, Ted Lasso's season 3 is a total mess with disjointed writing, an uneven tone, and far too many inconsequential plot threads. Perhaps it will all come together as we approach the season, and seemingly the series, finale, but my expectations are not high at this point. Sorry Coach Lasso, I don’t believe you’ve still got it.