Why do audiences love “Ted Lasso” so much?
“Well, it’s hard for me to say because I’m involved in it,” says series actor and writer Brett Goldstein, who stars as the curmudgeonly footballer Roy Kent. “If I have any theory about it, it is that public discourse had become so ugly.”
In short, viewers had become accustomed to seeing people being horrible to each other on television when the show first premiered in summer 2020; aggressive ignorance was ubiquitous. “Ted Lasso” was a show about an optimistic fish-out-of-water character who was curious and trying his darn hardest.
“Ted is an ignorant American, he comes over [to England], knows nothing about it — but instead of just shouting a lot and going, ‘I’m bluffing it,’ he goes, ‘I don’t know anything. Here’s what I do know, and I’m open to learning, and I want to engage with everyone and have empathy,’” Goldstein says over Zoom from his flat in London, a Muppets movie poster hanging on the wall behind him.
“It’s a show about kindness and people trying to be decent to each other, but it isn’t just slogans; it isn’t just ‘be nice to each other.’ People are struggling with stuff, and things have consequences,” he adds. “[Ted Lasso] has panic attacks, he’s going through a divorce, aging — all these issues that are in the show. So the kindness and optimism and idealism, you’re seeing people struggling with it and still choosing the better path. I think that was very unusual to see on screen for a while. And I guess it speaks to how hungry we all were to see some decency.”
Roy’s struggle at the start of season two is rooted in his own identity. “He’s in a difficult place because all he ever knew was football, and his plan was I’ll play football until I die. And now he’s not dead, and he’s not playing football, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do,” says Goldstein. “But the upside is he’s with Keeley now. And I think it’s the first time he’s ever really let his guard down in a relationship. That part of his life is great. The rest of his life is a mess.”
So after the “will they, won’t they” suspense of Roy and Keeley’s relationship in season one, the romantic drama for the couple hinges on the reality of a relationship in its early stages. “The challenge as a writer, an actor, and as a team was like, can we tell a story of a couple who are now together and it’s still interesting and engaging and romantic and dramatic?” says Goldstein. “Because the easy thing to do is break them up,” he adds. “But it was like, can we get that level of drama and interest in romance with a new couple who are together and how they’re negotiating being together?” Audiences will have to watch and judge for themselves.
The Ted Lasso brand of cheery optimism permeates the making of the show, too. “I worry people will be bored of hearing how much we all love each other,” says Goldstein of his costars. “Everyone really, really cares about this show, and they’re all invested in it. And also it’s a lot of very funny people. Everyone has fun on set, but also everyone delivers.”
Among the cast logging writing credits on the series are co-creators Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt, as well as Goldstein, who serves as executive story editor. “The beauty of it is if I ever think ‘this doesn’t sound like Roy,’ I can say something,” says Goldstein. “But that’s true for everyone, for all the characters. Jason’s very open.”
The show’s teamsmanship is proving to be a winning strategy, and “Ted Lasso” was rewarded earlier this month with a flood of Emmy nominations — Goldstein was nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy series alongside three of his costars. But there’s no rest for the weary: in August, he’ll be back in the writers room to start working on season three. Also in the pipeline for Goldstein is the second season of AMC anthology series “Soulmates,” which he created and executive produced; the show premiered last fall.
“I’m a workaholic, is basically what we’ve discovered,” says Goldstein, who also recently began performing live comedy sets in London again. “But I love it. It’s what makes me happy — all this stuff. I just like making stuff. So I somehow make time for it all, but you know, I don’t sleep. That’s my secret. The secret is I get very little sleep, and one day, I’ll probably explode. But that’s fine.”
In between it all, Goldstein continues to release weekly episodes of his podcast “Films to Be Buried With,” in which he interviews guests about the films that had a definitive impact on their lives.
“I think everyone is interesting if you ask the right question,” says Goldstein, who this week released episode number 156 featuring Danny Wallace. “I didn’t realize when I came up with it, but the format of this show works because you end up talking about life. Because you’re talking about film, but when I say what film scares you the most, I’m asking what scares you, and you end up going into stuff.” (As for which film recently made an impression on Goldstein, it was “In the Heights.” He even found time to watch it in a theater.)
No doubt he’s also found time to watch football. “My dad is like a football hooligan, so I was raised very much that football is religion,” says Goldstein, a Tottenham Hotspur fan (take the fictional AFC Richmond out of the equation, and he’s still rooting for an underdog team). “It’s all we talk about. So he’s finally proud of me because of ‘Ted Lasso.’ He was like, I always wanted you to do football, and then you went into f–king comedy — but finally, you made it.”
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