I wrote a book that helps people heal their broken hearts and bring them to a place where they can love and be loved more. Well, my new quarantine binge-watching opportunity, Ted Lasso, may do a better job of bringing people to that mighty aspiration than I ever could.
Full disclosure: I’ve watched it three times already. I meant to write this right after I discovered it a couple months ago (yes, I’m late to the Ted Lasso game — it came out in August 2020, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic), but I’ve been too damn busy re-watching it to write about its surprising healing properties until now.
If you haven’t seen it, you need to hear this: this show will make your quarantined heart feel better.
Ted Lasso is a former football coach in the U.S. who doesn’t understand the first thing about soccer, but is brought to England to coach a failing premier “football” league team. Somehow, Ted gets to the heart of what is causing this team’s decline without having a clue as to what even puts a player offsides.
Ted scours the hull of his team’s ship, player by player, heart barnacle by heart barnacle – all the way up to the team owner, Rebecca (played by Hannah Waddingham), who happens to be dealing with the worst break-up of all time (Hannah: Read my book…oh, I mean… watch your show!). She is undermining the team due to her own heart pain, the nasty divorce from the team’s previous prick of an owner.
From the moment they meet, Ted’s off-center wily ways cause Rebecca to repeatedly drop her aching angry heart, slowly but surely inspiring her to stop retrieving it, eventually leaving it behind in favor of loving and being loved more.
One by one, Ted gently, surreptitiously leads everyone in his orbit through the nearly accidental self-inquiry needed to cause a transformation in the team and in each of their hearts. Even self-centered God’s gift to soccer, Jamie Tartt (played by Phil Dunster), has his heart’s childhood wounds caused by an overly critical dad begin to heal.
One of my favorite lines Ted utters about his “mad-all-the-time” former superstar player Roy Kent (played by Brett Goldstein) just after he storms out of Ted’s office: “If we’re gonna make an impact here – first domino that needs to fall is right inside that man’s heart.”
And so it is that Lasso and his coach, Coach Beard (played by genius show co-creator Brendan Hunt who along with Jason Sudeikis’ Ted Lasso make me repeatedly laugh-cry and cry-laugh), work with the precision of a fine laser on this world class heart barnacle in the most loving yet exquisitely choreographed way. They are all about removing anything that stops everyone from loving or being loved. That also happens to be, of course, the secret sauce to everyone’s true success.
I love hanging with these people. I get to be temporarily planted in what I consider utopia, where people care about each other, really want to make a difference in each other’s lives (we all need a Ted Lasso and Coach Beard on our team), and where we can break on through to the other side of the barriers that keep us from love in all its many forms.
I don’t know how many times I’ll need to watch it. I don’t know how long it will fill my heart with joy to click on any episode one more time. But I know I’m grateful it’s one of my quarantine heart-salves.
One thing we all have in common during this quarantine is that no matter how much we like solitude, we are all fish out of water in a pandemic-ridden world. Ted Lasso is a classic fish out of water story. But Ted magically creates fresh water wherever he goes so he can happily swim through life. It’s good to watch these hilarious fish (particularly Ted himself) navigate what looks like a landscape that vacillates between waterless desert to treacherous waters. It makes me feel like I can overcome anything. And one of the best things it does is make it OK to have uncomfortable feelings and conversations, and be vulnerable to get to the other side of the pain to happiness and true success.
A failing soccer team with bitter angry fans, an undermining team owner and a coach who knows nothing about soccer doesn’t look too different from angry, frustrated, depressed humans wanting to get back to normal, burdened with losses of every sort caused by COVID. The pain is piled on, the obstacles to happiness seem great. And, yet, healing, laughter and happiness ensue in this Sudeikis-Hunt created utopia.
Ted Lasso makes me feel like no heart wound is insurmountable, no barnacle unremovable, no barrier impenetrable: there’s hope for every heart in Ted Lasso’s world. Step into it and see how it makes your heart feel. Mine got Lasso’d right away and maybe yours will too.
Couldn’t all our hearts use a little dose of utopia right about now?