So in a week where numerous beloved series reached their endings (a week that just happened to coincide with the end of the Emmy eligibility period), it appears from all credible sources that Apple TV+’s TED LASSO is also on that list, ending a three-season run that despite what many of its fans contended was an unsatisfying batch of recent episodes it concluded with a finale last night that tied up many loose ends and nearly made up for the rest of them. With the needed caveat of SPOILER ALERT!!!, Kelly Lawler of USA TODAY quickly recaps what was dropped on Tuesday night:
Ted ((Jason)Sudeikis) goes home to the U.S. and his son. Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) finds her dream man and sells half the club to its fans. Keeley (Juno Temple) suggests starting a women’s team. Roy (Brett Goldstein) takes over managing the Richmond team. Beard (Brendan Hunt) gets married. Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) makes the Nigerian national team. Rupert (Anthony Head) gets his comeuppance. There’s a big old barbecue at the Higgins’ house. Everyone gets a happily ever after.
And the post-drop publicity that its cast is willing to do is reinforcing the finality that we apparently saw. Sudeikis, Waddingham and Goldstein have repeatedly reinforced this was always intended as a shorter series, in line with the way Brits tend to execute great television. Reportedly, Lasso exceeded the expectations of Apple executives, who had been banking on THE MORNING SHOW to be their breakout and subscription-justifying series. But as the show’s atypically rosy outlook to life and opportunity unfolded at a time when the world was in lockdown and little else good was happening anywhere, and with the benefit of shutins with IPhones having free accounts, its legend grew and its fanbase all the more zealotic. The bonus Christmas episode that was gifted at a particularly difficult time early in the pandemic is still being talked about as one of the most spiritually uplifting and best executed holiday stories of recent memory.
Several critics, including Lawler, are matter-of-fact about the show’s conclusion:
So where could the story possibly go from here? For goodness sake, we even learn Beard’s real name (Willis). There are no mysteries left in the “Lasso” world, no character depths left to plumb, no more classic musical numbers for professional soccer players to sing. The book is closed on “Ted Lasso.” It’s as closed as a little girl’s journal with a lock. And Ted took the key back to Kansas City and threw it away.
Yet there are also voices like Henry Casey of tom’s guide that do not want this door closed just yet:
When I finished the Ted Lasso season 3 finale — which could very well be the series finale — this morning, I was full of emotion. That’s nothing unusual, as Ted Lasso is the kind of series that always generates feels.
The thing is, for as positive as I was about this finale, my brain couldn’t stop wondering “what if?” about scenes I believe were either never made, or left on the cutting room floor. And this is why I’ve started to hope we get a Ted Lasso finale director’s cut soon. While the series has been wrapped with a very pleasant bow, this ending left out certain scenes that one would expect to see.
Much like great vaudeville acts of past eras, it’s always agood sign to leave your audience wanting more. And even a 75-minute finale, more than twice a typcial episode’s length, left fans clamoring. But if I’m to believe the reasons that some on my social media feeds are expressing in the last 48 hours, this is not merely a case where people want more; they NEED it.
This is a show, after all, that prominently featured a slogan and sign that proclaimed BELIEVE!. I have one particularly passionate fan who has compared his utopian empolyment situation at Trader Joe’s to the Richmond world, and his supervisor as the embodiment of Lasso’s approach to life. This is a person who, like me, has had near-death experiences and was hurt way more by the industry we love and the exes we thought loved us than I. Family members who have been suffering through tremendous stress, several recent health battles and persistent financial worry have grafted onto the series as one of the few positive distractions they can find the time to indulge in. These people, and others, fervently recommend the show to me as both entertaining and therapeutic, at times urging me to consider its viewing a necessity.
The other night I paid a visit to the house of worship that I had been attending when my world crashed and I couldn’t even find an open synogauge. It was to me as healing an experience and as uplifting as many who wouldn’t dare set foot outside their four walls got when they were watching Ted Lasso. They had offered me a “deep healing” session which, frankly, I badly need. As it turned out, it was little more than a pressure-filled exercise in urging me to accept Jesus as my savior if I were to continue. Despite whatever requests I made for understanding, the “healer” was adamant that unless I were to believe to the extent he did, I couldn’t be helped. Perhaps someday I might be more open; when I first attended, I was in a far better place, especially with the person who turned me on to it in the first place. But those days are long past. I just can’t go there. I know what I do believe in, and that’s hope against insurmountable odds. Ted Lasso offered that. And even though more recent episodes weren’t quite as satisfying, the one that they claim will be this story’s coda left its fans applauding.
Still, I can’t help and look at the breadcrumbs that seem to be screaming contradiction. And even as Lawler bid her farewell, she channeled some of the thoughts I’ve been having:
Sure, there might be spinoffs (that Richmond Women’s AFC certainly has the potential for a whole new cast of lovable characters), and Apple could shell out so much dough that Sudeikis could be lured into unraveling the fitting end he wrote for Ted. (Much like the complicated U.K. soccer leagues that Ted and friends discuss in the finale, it’s indeed all about money).
I’ll go a couple of steps further. The specific story in this setting involving these characters may be at an end. But who’s to say we wouldn’t want to see Ted in Kansas with his family, coaching his son’s soccer team. A FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS type comedy-drama where soccer tries to keep pace with football and basketball for relevance and resonance? I’m in. That women’s AFC idea, especially with Roy Kent pivoting and becoming ITS manager, and having to get his language and libido in check? Especially in the world of women’s soccer/football that has far too many less worthy men such as those who have inflicted pain and bankruptcy on players and teams in the NWSL? Yes please. Willis Beard taking over the Los Angeles Galaxy and trying to adjust to America with his new bride? Plenty of actual Galaxy fans only wish that were a possibility. And yes, Apple does have the money to perhaps coax Sudeikis and company back in some way, shape or form. My monthly bills alone prove that, and I’m well aware I’m at the lower end of their subscriber retention priorities.
There’s a long, hot summer ahead. Change is persistent. We’re a more polarized world than ever. People and institutions at least in Los Angeles still insist on social distancing and face diapers even when laws no longer mandate them for reasons that honestly escape me. And game shows can only be so much of an escape for most of us.
I haven’t yet fully digested all of the episodes of TED LASSO, including the finale. I don’t care that I already know how it wraps up. I need to believe in something, and I do believe the evangelism of its supporters far more than I believe that which I heard the other night at a time when I so badly needed something positive to be expressed.
So maybe it’s indeed “So long, farewell” to Ted Lasso. Or maybe it’s not. Perhaps clinging to the myth that more episodes will be forthcoming is something only a fool believes, as the Doobie Brothers used to warble.
So I’ll believe in those who believe. To an extent. Apple executives, it’s your move.
Until next time…