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‘Ted Lasso’ Won’t Settle for Shallow Optimism

The show’s second season challenges viewers to consider true joy over hyper-positivity.

Apple TV’s hit sitcom Ted Lasso has roped viewers (and 20 Emmy nominations) in with an inexplicably sunny protagonist, top-shelf pop culture references, and characters who care about one another. Despite the show’s unabashed sweetness, it attracted few critics, much less haters, until the second season’s Christmas episode recently dropped.

For some, scenes of Rebecca and Ted delivering presents to London’s less fortunate and the Higgins’ family home transforming into a premier destination for foreign players felt like “a warm blanket of nice.”

Not for everyone.

“Can Ted Lasso Recover from That Unspeakably Bad Christmas Episode?” wrote Paste magazine. “When there are no counterbalancing new episodes to wash away the astringent peppermint flavor, though, of course it’s easy to wonder if the Christmas episode is a one-off or if it represents the dominant new direction of the show,” suggested Vulture, referring to the weekly episode drop. “Maybe it’ll all be this wash of sentimental squishiness now. Ugh!”

Released in 2020, Ted Lasso centers an out-of-his-depth American football coach who takes a job with an English soccer team. He bakes biscuits for his team’s owner, opens a suggestion box to scornful players, and builds relationships with chronically bullied and insecure coworkers.

Ted’s vulnerable moments—a divorce, a disdainful team captain, and a boss who’s set him up for failure—have balanced his seemingly unflappable optimism, preventing him from being reduced to a symbol and revealing him as a human who, like us, is sometimes neglected, anxious, and in need of love. Even in the first season, writers attempted …

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