Apple TV+ series ‘Ted Lasso’ has both funny, serious elements

Rick's Reviews

Jason Sudeikis (center) stars in the new Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso.” Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

The new Apple TV+ series, “Ted Lasso,” has all the credentials to earn it a classification as a comedy. It stars former “Saturday Night Live” funnyman Jason Sudeikis playing the starring role that he originated in a series of promotional commercials for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League.

In the series, Ted Lasso is a small-time college football coach from Kansas who gets hired to coach a professional soccer team in England. The funny idea of hiring a coach with no experience to ruin the team comes from executive producer Bill Lawrence who is best known for his super-funny “Scrubs.” You put the two together and “Ted Lasso” sounds like it will be all about the laughs.

You can see those funny moments when the first three episodes of the 10-episode half-hour comedy series premieres globally on Aug. 14 on the streaming service. New episodes will debut weekly every Friday thereafter.

But, the series that also stars Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster and Nick Mohammed also has a serious side. There are also some very personal stories with the players and management that unfold between the jokes.

Waddingham, who is best known for playing Septa Unella in “Game of Thrones,” got to see both sides of Lasso’s character as the owner of the soccer team. She’s taken over from her philandering husband and is determined to ruin the one thing her ex-husband loves.

 Waddingham says the key to both the comedy and drama in “Ted Lasso” is Sudeikis.

“From very early on, you can’t help but like him,” Waddingham says. “As Rebecca, that presents a huge struggle for her. It presented a kind of tug-of-war for her as to when she was going to show that and when she wasn’t.”

Brett Goldstein, who plays soccer superstar Roy Kent, understands the comedy/drama balance both as an actor and as one of the show’s writers.

“I think that’s what’s so interesting about this show,” Goldstein says. “It isn’t quite as broad as it would seem at first glance. I think there is a lot going on with the characters. I think we make it very clear so that you will care about their journeys.

“The funny parts are easy. It’s the making it matter that counts.”

Goldstein came to the project with a deep knowledge of writing. The British actor and comedian wrote and appeared in the film “SuperBob” and also appeared in the comedy-drama “Derek.” He wrote “The Catherine Tate Live Show with Catherine Tate” and has written and performed four solo stand up shows.

The task of both acting and writing gave Goldstein a head start in playing the character. Because he was working with all the writers on the project, that gave him access to creating the most interesting character possible.

“I knew it (the character) very well by the time we were making it and I knew where we were going. Others didn’t know where their characters would end,” Goldstein says. “It was almost like having a cheat sheet because I knew the long game for the characters.”

One of those characters is played by Juno Temple who brings both a serious and funny side to her portrayal of a social-media influencer who has become a big part of the team’s world. Temple’s previous work has been in such films as “Black Mass,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “Maleficent,” “The Three Musketeers” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” TV viewers will know her for her starring role in the HBO period drama “Vinyl” and Bravo’s true-crime drama series “Dirty John.”

She admits the comedy portion of “Ted Lasso” was a new challenge for her.

“I’m definitely drawn to more dramatic parts probably because I am quite scared of comedy,” Temple says. “But when this came around for me I was quite surprised that Jason believed in me for it.

“Then I was so thrilled about getting to incorporate the comedy into the mattering side of things.”

Temple is convinced that the combination of comedy and drama in all of the “Ted Lasso” characters ended up being the reason all of the characters come across as very human. She has found that the best comedy often comes from very dark places.

If you want to watch the comedy and drama of “Ted Lasso,” Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial.

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