‘Ted Lasso’ returns with a stronger, more focused third season

I’ve always found the major criticism against it Ted Lasso, that it’s too saccharine, to be quite dishonest. This is a series in jest, where the sunny skies and primary colors sweeten the bitter pills that are handed out. For every wish-fulfillment scene designed to pump you up, there are meditations on suicide, betrayal, and emotional neglect. It’s funny, too — enough that Emmy voters voted it Outstanding Comedy two years in a row. Now the third and, as far as we know, last The show’s season returns to Apple TV on March 15.

It picks up again after the summer break, ahead of Richmond’s return season in the Premier League (EPL) after winning promotion last time under the skin of his teeth. It’s been a long time since the second season aired, the longer gap being blamed on behind-the-scenes issues. Jason Sudekis, who became co-showrunner this time around, ordered a major rewrite after becoming dissatisfied with the original direction this season was taking. Based on the first four episodes, which Apple made available ahead of the broadcast, our patience has been amply rewarded.

That’s the nature of Apple’s restrictive covenant on spoilers that I can’t talk about many details about the third season. The first episode is the weakest of the bunch, taking time to recover where everyone is after their summer vacation. (Are placeholder episodes necessary given the nature of streaming these days?) Keeley finds the rigors of running her own business harder than expected, while Rebecca takes to heart Ted’s promise to win the competition. Ted, meanwhile, feels just as emotionally stunted as before, even more so after spending a summer with Henry, clearly not having dealt with Nate’s betrayal or the contrived reasons behind it.

As part of Lassos evolution from a sitcom to a comedy drama, the runtimes of each episode are now firmly measured in hours instead of half hours. The story has extended to the personal lives of many of football’s most important players, as well as giving Keeley a whole new team to work with. We even get our first real glimpse of Michelle and Henry back home in Kansas, not to mention the storylines involving Sam and, of course, the dreaded Nate. That’s a lot for a show, especially one that was described – equally unfairly – as and in its second season. (The blame must lie with Apple for that, given the belated request to add two more episodes to the order.)

There are more threads to the storyline, but Ted Lasso has refocused his episodic structure on the Premier League season. And two parallel stories emerge: Ted’s struggle to access his emotions in a healthy way, and the battle for Nate’s soul. Rupert, played with malevolent delight by Anthony Head, is the devil lurking on the prodigy’s shoulder, temptation dangling before him at every turn. I probably can’t talk about it [ACTOR] to play [CHARACTER]either a shortened version of any mono-named prima-donna football player who is often idolized and hated in equal measure.

I was interested to see how the show’s newfound embrace of the show would change the usual lack of grounding in reality. There’s a lot of filming going on in some major stadiums this season, even down to preserving the sponsorship walls for post-match interviews. But don’t expect a renewed commitment to true football, with the opposition teams all played by actors who bear little resemblance to their real-world counterparts. Just remember this is still Ted’s world, we’re just lucky enough to spend some time looking at it.

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