Once Upon A Geek – Ted Lasso


Coach Shag is joined by Coach Patrick & Coach Entropy as they find their joy discussing the recent Apple TV show entitled, TED LASSO. They cover their passion for the series, the themes of the show, why it's NOT about soccer, and favorite characters & episodes. Plus, we speculate on possible spin-offs. Finally, we wrap up with YOUR listener feedback from recent episodes!

  • 00:00:26 - Introductions
  • 00:02:10 - What is the show about? How did you find the show? (NO SPOILERS)
  • 00:17:05 - Geeks experience with sports
  • 00:22:02 - Themes of the show (SPOILERS BEGIN HERE)
  • 00:41:02 - Character discussion 
  • 01:28:36 - Favorite episodes or moments
  • 01:34:00 - Spin-off speculation
  • 01:41:42 - Your Listener Feedback from recent episodes
  • 01:58:37 - Sign off

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24 responses to “Once Upon A Geek – Ted Lasso

  1. Great episode guys! I wanted to be right there in the room discussing it with you, which is the highest compliment I can give.
    In regards to the length of the series, I think it was mentioned Jason Sudekis had a plan for three seasons but the worldwide success had them pivot to leave many things unresolved, because I wholeheartedly believe the show will return without Ted Lasso, continuing the story with all the other characters.

  2. Come on, people. You know I get whiny when no one comments. Must I remind you of the Human Flycast incident? I may have been the one at fault, but I think I can safely say it was awkward for all of us.

  3. Interesting chat with an all-star team, and Shag. I was lucky enough to meet Coach Entropy at Heroescon and he was a fine dude.

    I kind of fear any continuation in case it doesn’t capture the magic. Speaking of Magic, I would welcome an episode on Winning Time, particularly if Shag is a fan of swears.

    1. I’m also fearful of continuation of the Coach Kent, Beard, and Nathan team. Just seems to be more of the same, but missing the spark of Ted. That’s why my suggestions leaned into featuring the other characters in new situations.

      Never even heard of “Winning Time”. The Lakers? Really?

      1. I am totally on board with your idea of focusing on Rebecca and Keely building up the women’s team. They could even bring Nate back as head coach. Feels like a lot of awkward humor there.

  4. I’ve wanted to check out Once Upon a Geek for a while, and when I saw a Ted Lasso episode pop up, I knew I found my way in. I adored that show and was so pleased to hear the three of you talk about it. This group had some great insights and highlighted some of my favorite moments in the series. As a listener, I could tell how much each of you loved Ted Lasso, and it made this pod a really fun listen.

    I agree with all of you on the different ways you described what the theme of Ted Lasso is about. Kindness. Heart. Growth. It’s a testament to how good this show is, that different people can find something unique to them that resonated.

    For me, Ted Lasso was about when you have to realize that the life you had envisioned for yourself isn’t exactly the one that you are living, and how to find peace, balance, and joy from that.

    I have a non-verbal, autistic kid. And, probably like a lot of parents, you have these dreams and ideas of the life your children will have. Things you’ll teach them, share with them, help shape them as little people into young adults, and when you have an autistic kid, you have to learn that a lot of that won’t happen, and you have to find a way to make peace with that. That’s the theme that I got from Ted Lasso.

    Ted was supposed to be a happily married man.
    Jaimie was supposed to be a star.
    Roy was supposed to be able to play football longer.
    Nate was supposed to be the wunderkind.
    Rebecca was supposed to be a mother.

    Over and over, characters have to let go of some of the things that they aren’t in order to find out who they are, and to find happiness in that rather than grieve the life they do not have.

    Sports is a great metaphor for that. The expectations and failures that come with organized sports is the perfect companion to the themes of the show. It would be easy to follow the story of an underdog team that pulls out the Cinderella story victory. But Richmond doesn’t do that. They lose. They get regulated. Sports afterall, are about losing more than it is about winning. Only one team can be a champion. The rest have to accept that they aren’t.

    Even the concept of losing is turned on its head in Ted Lasso. A show about a sports team that isn’t really about wins and losses is fascinating. And the show makes it okay to lose, because the loss does not define you. And by extension, it’s okay to not be okay. There isn’t some fatal flaw inside you. All the main characters have to confront that about themselves and come out the other side.

    On top of that, the show is funny, heartwarming, and the characters pop off the screen and have depth. The series was masterful at manipulating your emotions, and I’m a sucker for that.

    It did feel like they tried to cover too much ground in the last season. Too many issues popping up and crowding the plot. But even the rough patches weren’t enough to weaken the show too much, and in the final season, we get that great scene between Beard and Henry that I could talk about and break down for hours. And at the end of that episode Rebecca says in one line what I probably tripped over myself trying to say in this entire post. “You need to stop letting yesterday get in the way of today.”

    1. Chris – Thank you for the feedback and your openness. I love that someone else can be passionate about the show, and get a different message from it. That’s the magic of this show. It speaks to so many of us in different ways.

      You make some powerful points, and I wish to echo Coach Entropy’s comments that you sound like a fantastic dad.

      Thanks for listening and sharing your story.

      1. You guys are right. I am amazing. I’ll let my wife know the internet agrees with me. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that and not roll her eyes or let loose with a sigh.

  5. Random question has any one seen a 90’s soccer cartoon called hurricanes . About a young girl inheriting a pro soccer team and her and teams adventures.

    1. Yes I saw it a few times on Kids TV in Scotland. Don’t recall it being that good. But then I remember Sport Billy as well!

  6. First off, I’m not on iTunes so I can’t leave a review there sorry. However I did enjoy this episode, despite the break neck pace it had to go at to get 3 seasons of a very nuanced show in one podcast.

    As an early adopter of Ted Lasso (I watched the first season as it came out on the net) I remember how the show was still unsure if it had caught lightning in a bottle and how the reviews and word of mouth grew the audience from the “cool kids” to wider and wider groups of people with everyone who saw it trying to recruit more viewers. I think that those who came in later on had a very different experience of that first season – namely they got to binge. And honestly I don’t think Ted Lasso works as well when it’s binged. This comes into play later on in Season 2 and 3 when the sense of time between episodes seems to be elastic having a week between releases sure helps the mind fill in the gaps a bit.

    One of the reasons I watched the show before the momentum built is that I am a Geek and a sports fan – a Football fan for as long as I remember while living in a nation which is all about soccer. Except when the Rugby is on or Andy Murray is doing well. So I’d seen the original adverts with Ted Lasso used to promote the Premier League in the US coverage. I was also very interested in how they’d write a “Coach” transition into Soccer. I’ve been a Football General Manager in the UK, but over here we consider the GM as someone who would be the equivalent of Lesley in Ted Lasso, doing the paper work, sorting the buses, getting the equipment in, raising money, washing the jerseys … and washing the jerseys … did I mention washing the jerseys (we had to wash them every week after practice and games – pants however were washed by the players). But in Soccer the Manager is a different role, they are like a NFL GM and a Coach in Football all rolled into one. It was interesting how there never seemed to be any scouting of players mentioned by the Ted Lasso crew and they barely touched on deadline transfer day which is a HUGE thing (and plenty of jokes about fax machines to be made) and even then despite all that – Ted Lasso did something that frankly is almost unheard of in soccer – they kept the main team together even after they were relegated.

    So in watching Ted Lasso I felt they missed a lot of opportunities not only for shining a little comedy focus on sport in general but also the fish out of water jokes between the two cultures. Maybe those jokes would have only landed with one side or the other, and they felt it was better to just not worry about that aspect. But there were gaps there that could have been filled. That Ted had been a successful Division II Coach yet no-one from the NFL seemed to show up to nose around particularly when the NFL is making a major push in the UK just felt this show was a bubble show. And I guess that helps to detach it from what would or could have happened.

    But then once that is out of the way, frankly it’s possibly the greatest TV Bubble show ever. Lets face it the show couldn’t have gone much longer with Ted in charge after what he achieved. Would we want to follow another football season where the team were effectively dancing around the middle of the pack and maybe trying to qualify for a European place? The down, up and almost winning it seasons are where the sporting drama is. And while many consider the show isn’t about the soccer – it only brings those people together in that place for that time because of the soccer seasons. So I knew from the outset that logically while the show could last longer, there would likely only be 3 seasons of the sporting side. Personally I think that the final season should have been longer to give that sense of the pressure building as the football team closes in on something amazing. But I get that they felt they couldn’t do that.

    Sorry I realise I’m addressing the technical set up of the show more than what really stood out with it. The Story the Characters and the ability particularly in season one when were all struggling with Covid to just bring utter joy into our lives one episode a week. And we can’t over look how much Covid impacted this show and likely wise how much this show impacted Covid. There simply isn’t many “feel good shows” on TV – just as there aren’t many films in that category. To that extent Ted Lasso was effectively in a league of it’s own for the last few years, carving out a TV landscape that perhaps would only have a handful of shows at best. People didn’t really tune into the show to see the plot but to follow the lives of the Characters, and each character certainly had their time in the sun with perhaps the exception my favourite character Barbara.

    The show was also perhaps unique that the titular character while important was barely the focus of the show, it’s a skill to pull together such an ensemble of a cast who all seem real and I think that comes from the writers room. Having cast in their and bringing their experiences really paid off, particularly in the Rebecca, Keeley and Bex storylines – with the Actress Keeley Hazell who played Bex (Aka Rebecca II – something I don’t recall anyone mentioning in the show that Rupert had replaced one Rebecca with another) giving plenty of insight into shaping show-Keeley’s path. That she also got a co-writing credit on an episode as well as being a staff writer for season 3. I honestly don’t recall any show which had so many writers who were also acting in the show, and maybe that’s why every character is so strong in their own way.

    The way everyone has managed to come out of the show as a star with not a single bad turn is impressive. The best part was Hannah Waddingham’s breakout into mainstream recognition. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had a Wonder Woman film had cast her as a lead Amazon (or even Wonder Woman herself) back in the early 00’s – even Smallville would have worked time wise. Of course she’s been in Superman related TV before as Jax-Ur in Krypton for two seasons. Maybe the failure of Krypton to land a season 3 (and it certainly deserved one) allowed her to go after the role of Rebecca, but considering her previous “big hit” was as the nasty nun in Game of Thrones – it’s clear the woman can act and it’s a shame that her physical stature cost her roles in the past.

    But beyond Waddingham, so many great comic actors managed to work so well, from Ellie Taylor (who I’ve had a crush on for years ever since she was on a reality TV show for Stand up comics – and I missed her show at the Edinburgh Fringe) in a bit part of Sassy to Katy Wix (Barbara) in small roles while Nick Mohammed, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, James Lance and of course Jason Sudeikis all brought real drama chops as well as comedy timing.

    Talking about the comedy, someone posted on line during the run that the topics the show covered, such as Colin’s & Trent’s story. Ted’s Panic attacks, the Racism and Crazy Rich Dudes all felt like those episodes of US Comedies where it was “Tonight on a very special episode” yet at the same time it never once felt forced and while there was certainly something they wanted to get across it never beat you over the head with it – because everyone seemed real. Again the writing and acting on the show made all of this possible.

    I realise this is a long long post, so I’ll try and close up now. My favourite Season was the first – it was lightning in a bottle and while ironically the best episodes are in seasons 2 and 3 I honestly don’t think as whole they match up to that journey of discovery in season 1 of who and what Ted Lasso was about. I also felt as it was discussed in the pod cast that season 3 was rushed, like they knew they couldn’t go to 4 seasons because frankly everyone was going to be busy with next projects and crammed as much as they could into the plot. The handling of Nate’s heel turn and face turn felt right in season 2 but utterly rushed in season 3 and completely un realistic. His leaving of West Ham despite being great at the job wouldn’t have happened and like wise the whole still driving a crap car when he should be earning at least 6 if not 7 figures a year really annoyed me. Funnily enough it’s the lack of discussion about the money that Ted, Nate and the players should have been earning still irks me. Soccer is awash with cash with silly amounts involved, yet Ted has a small flat in Richmond and no car and no mention of how much he should be earning over 3 years? I would have at least preferred something said about what he does with his money “I don’t need that much it’s mostly for my son’s college fund and the rest goes to charity” sort of thing but I never recall that being mentioned. We do see the opulence of the players with their expensive cars but again it’s not exactly gone into depth. So there are in my mind plenty of places where the show could have gone for more comedy or drama – but they didn’t they kept the whimsy as well which is tough to do and honestly season 3 should have been longer. Even if the screen time was increased to whatever the episode needed.

    That Coach Entropy, Coach Patrick and yes even Coach Shag managed to cover so much ground on such a rich and deep show with many layers deserves Kudos. I enjoyed the absolute enthusiasm each brought to the discussion. I particularly enjoyed Coach Entropy’s insights and of course the fact that the show made Shag want to be a better person – any show that has that effect (not just on Shag) is worthy of our time to watch and discuss. I just wish I could convince my wife to watch it with me but she wants none of it.

    Anyway thanks for keeping me company while driving to and from Glasgow last weekend your show put in me a good mood!

    1. Doug, thank you very much for the kind words and for all the helpful insight and contest that is lost on us Yanks! That was a lot of knowledge, and I think we all appreciate your time and effort dropping it on us. Kindly submitted for your awareness, the show very briefly touched on The Rebecca repetition. When Rupert and Bex first started dating, Keeley and *our* Rebecca lamented the fact that a newspaper referred to Bex as “New Rebecca” and Waddingham’s character as “Old Rebecca.”

      Also, you’re completely correct. Barbara was awesome. I say that with authority, because I’ve now discussed the show on a podcast. My inner (Season 2) Nate tells me that means I’m an expert.

    2. This was a great post, and one thing really stuck out to me, that this was a “feel good” show.

      So many highly rated/zeitgeist shows over the last, say 20 years, have been about terrible people doing terrible things. Succession, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Ozark, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, True Detective…..the list goes on and on and on…

      And then here comes Ted Lasso,and it’s a genuinely positive, feel-good show where people are kind and it never feels like it’s preaching to you. Just a breath of fresh air.

  7. Great show, guys, and some wonderful, wise and thoughtful comments on this thread.

    Ted Lasso has absolutely no right to be as great as it turned out. It should be a one-gag sitcom about what is (in the US at least) something of a niche sport… but it’s so much more.

    I think this show is about seeing the characters improving and maintaining their mental health in a world which is complicated, fluid, and unsettling, one which rarely – if ever – really lives up to their hopes or expectations.

    I’m making a definite distinction here between mental HEALTH – maintaining a healthy psyche – and actual mental ILLNESS. There *are* times when the characters do show symptoms of mental illness (Ted’s panic attacks, for example… and you might argue that Rupert has a rather narcissistic personality). For much of the time, however, the characters have their own flaws and foibles, but manage to deal with issues in ways that feel more genuine and true to real life than most of the overly dramatic characterisations you generally see on a TV drama.

    Ted asking the team (and the people around the team) to “Believe” is challenging them to change and become comfortable in their own skin, being brave enough to be their own person, free from societal pressures and expectations. For Colin that’s about accepting his sexuality, for Keeley Jones, it’s about developing herself as a businesswoman in her own right and not being defined by who she’s dating.

    Ted asks the characters to live up to their individual potential in whatever area that lies… And by challenging the characters to be their best selves, it’s a challenge to the viewer as well.

    The characters who are happiest – Higgins, Sam, possibly Dani – are the ones who have fewest pretensions, who are already pretty comfortable with who they are, and what they have. If anything good happens to them, it’s kind of a bonus on top of their general contentment.
    The characters who are initially least happy – Rebecca, Roy, Jamie – have character arcs which see them move away from unhappiness and uncertainty to a new place of growth and fulfilment.

    Nate is an example of where that growth trajectory goes wrong; he starts believing his own hype and falls to Rupert’s dark side. But even though Nate is bombarded by all the luxury worldly trappings of Premiership football as the manager of West Ham, he’s still not happy, and he only reaches the end of his arc when he connects with Jade, his father and – ultimately – his found family at Richmond.

    So much to unpack in a series which has no reason to have such hidden and rewarding depths. I found the YouTube channel of therapist “My Little Thought Tree” to be especially insightful and interesting and would thoroughly recommend his videos to anyone wanting more analysis of Ted Lasso. [https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIrZsx9CxvcGfUyo6EJK9GOjlEJt3-UWs&si=02H5DPhD6TmO0pYW]

    PS – Shag, you said you feel your Spirit Animal is Roy Kent, but for your positivity and “Find Your Joy” energy, I’ll always think of you more as Ted!

  8. I got a chance to listen to this with my wife on my way back from Canada (7 hour road trip each way!). It led to some amazing discussions and observations about the show. We had to pause many times as we were listening to talk about our own takes on specific characters and scenes. It wound up taking us nearly 3 hours to get through it, and I couldn’t have been happier. What a great topic to discuss and dissect! Thank you for spurring that conversation.

    Although I agree that the 3rd season felt rushed in spots, I think my biggest beef would have to be with Beard’s wedding. I know thematically it was to show that Ted was back in the States and had moved on. But knowing the kind of person Ted is – and his relationship with Beard – there is no way he wouldn’t have hopped back over for the celebration. Moving on doesn’t mean you ditch your friends: it means your relationships with them change. Having moved a little over a year ago, I can personally attest that friendships don’t end just because there is some distance between you. And that your friends WILL come to your wedding, regardless of that distance (again, speaking from personal experience).

    Also, if you enjoyed Ted Lasso, I STRONGLY insist you check out Shrinking. It’s by a lot of the same people (Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein are two of the creators). Like Ted Lasso, it is a show about grief, emotions, and how we process them. It’s smart, funny, and has some outstanding acting.

    1. Jeff, very glad that our conversation spurred a great conversation with your wife. If listening to a podcast gives us something worthwhile to think about, it’s a win. Helping us connect with someone we care about is a *spectacular* win.

  9. I just listened to the episode this morning, having finished the TED LASSO series finale last night. I had only just started watching the show when this episode came out, so I held off listening until I was done. After binging season 1, I had to restart it with my wife watching along too. Sound familiar?

    The major theme of the show, the one-word essence as you asked, I think is COACHING. If you allowed me an extra word, though, I would amend that to LIFE COACHING. At his/her core, a coach is someone dedicated to helping others find success; developing a player or team’s skills and attributes, facilitating a culture in which they can thrive and improve. On the surface, that’s what Ted is in Richmond to do, to help this football club succeed. But, as he says in his first press conference, as he says to Trent during their interview, as he reiterates time and time again–to Ted–it’s not about wins and losses, it’s about helping people be the best versions of their selves. That’s what we see throughout the series. It starts with the way he inspires the individual members of the team to be better people, and that influence spreads to others so we see Roy mentor his former nemesis Jamie, and we see Rebecca take Keeley under her wing. Rebecca’s “girl talk” sessions and Ted’s Diamond Dogs are microcosms of this idea; talking openly about interpersonal obstacles until a healthy solution is presented.

    However, there is a fundamental facet of Ted’s character and his coaching style that, while benefiting everyone around him–both the characters and the story–is a little detrimental to the overall narrative. Ted Lasso is not a hands-on person; he’s not passive either, but he doesn’t get his hands on a problem and fix it. He very casually helps a person identify the problem on their own and fix it themselves. That’s his version of coaching/managing too. We never see Ted draw up plays or strategies–after three years, he only barely understands the rules–he defers all of that to his staff, and even sometimes defers the pep-talk to them. Because to Ted, he doesn’t need to be the catalyst; everything is better, and everyone is healthier if they make their own journey of improvement. (This is also why his only note to Trent is about changing the title of the book from THE LASSO WAY to THE RICHMOND WAY; it’s not about him, it’s about all of them.

    On the larger scope, however, this aspect of his character has a significant affect on the show: By season 3, Ted Lasso is the least interesting character. For me, as a viewer, the major hiccup in the show was Ted’s refusal to confront Nate after he left them. His way was to let Nate go through his whole villain turn, rise, fall, and redemption because it was the best way to see Nate grow as a man. But in the moment it made Ted look passive and aloof; I was just as mad as Coach Beard, demanding why Ted wouldn’t fight back. And that whole feeling lasted throughout the third season. Ted deferred his own character development to Nate’s–which is characteristically unselfish and true to who Ted is, but again… it made him more boring to watch.

    Ultimately, though, I was happy with where Ted ended up in the final scene, coaching Little League Soccer. I predicted that as early as season one, that that was, in fact, where Ted actually belonged. There was a scene in the pub between Ted and Beard when Ted repeats his disinterest in wins and losses, and Beard shockingly rejects that idea for the first time. Because in the real world, that whole philosophy and practice is great for kids, for students. But A.F.C. Richmond was made of professional footballers. There are consequences to losing. People’s livelihoods are tied to the team’s wins and losses–even the profit margins of Mae’s pub ebbed and flowed with the team’s record. And Ted was still never able to compromise his core values for the sake of a “victory at all costs” attitude, which is why he didn’t belong there long term. He was the coach/manager Richmond needed at that time, because they were kids in many ways; as your guests pointed out on the podcast, everyone in the club was kind of broken when Ted showed up, from the owner, Rebecca, on down. Jamie was a prick and the rest of the team, like Sam, didn’t have the courage to confront him. Roy’s focus was clouded by his general self-hatred at being too old to compete. They weren’t ready to win the Premiere League championship until Ted coached them–not in football, but in life. Once that journey was over, though, once Richmond was grown up enough to thrive personally and professionally, it was time for Ted to go. (So no, we didn’t need another season.)

    Other thoughts on the characters:
    1. I mean, yeah of course Roy Kent stole the show. How can you not when your first line of dialogue is, “If I don’t hear silence, I’m gonna start punching dicks!” Also, every time Angie asks me anything, I answer “F*** no!”

    2. Rebecca was my favorite character. She took that position around episode 3 and never relented. I also agree with everything said about Keeley. When I was encouraging Angie to watch the show with me after I’d seen the first season, I told her I think my favorite characters in the show are the two women, neither of whom I would’ve ever expected to care about.

    3. I loved Higgins’ involuntary gag reflex whenever he was uncomfortable. I want to know if the writers came up with that or the actor did.

    4. You’re right about Trent Krimm, Independent’s hair. Oh my god, that hair!

    5. I never cared about Coach Beard and Jane. That was the one subplot that I felt they didn’t adequately develop, but I also didn’t want them to spend more time on it. I just didn’t care about them. I also thought the “Beard After Hours” episode was a misfire. That type of story where the character runs, jumps, and stumbles through a hellish night of misadventures and crazy turns of fate works when the protagonist is a sympathetic everyman. But Beard was way too mysterious and oddball for that.

    6. Season 1 was the most consistent; every episode was good or great. Season 2 had some really great episodes and some okay whatever episodes; high highs but low lows, not as consistent as season 1. Season 3 started off pretty weak but the last handful of episodes were very, very strong.

    7. Sam was sweet, definitely the moral compass of the team, but my favorite player was Danny Rojas. “Football *is* life. But football can also be death. And sometimes football is just football. But mostly FOOTBALL IS LIFE!”

  10. Ryan, I think of you as a discriminating person when it comes to podcasting, so if you were happy with this one, I’m very pleased. Thank you for sharing your insights and giving me more to consider about the show and its characters — which I think we all enjoy doing.

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