“Ted Lasso” arrived last summer at a moment when the pandemic and the bitter lead-up to the election had people down. The Apple TV+ comedy series, in which an American football coach becomes a life coach for a British soccer team, became a balm of sorts. The country was struggling with partisan battles, many of them about the dangers of COVID-19, but here was this folksy guy with an optimistic worldview and a refusal to succumb to negativity and divisiveness. We could root for him and his aspirational good nature unequivocally.
That moment in history has passed, in some ways, but “Ted Lasso,” which returns for season 2 on Friday, still has the intrinsic power to charm. The new episodes — I’ve seen eight of the season’s 12 — are as positive and cheering as those of the first season. Watching the show provides the same kinds of warm-and-fuzzies as the humane likes of “Schitt’s Creek” or “Parks and Recreation” (and, of course, “Friday Night Lights”). And wisely, “Ted Lasso” doles out its uplift without the kind of sappiness that can make you cringe. The plot twists can be fairly predictable, but that’s part of the appeal of comfort shows.
Jason Sudeikis continues to have the Ted role down, as the writing begins to add a little more depth to him. There’s a new character this season, Sarah Niles’s therapist, who is on the premises to keep an eye on the morale of the team, not least of all Ted, who continues to struggle with his marital breakup. Even with his almost preternatural positivity, and his ability to see the good in almost everyone, Ted is human and vulnerable.
That’s one reason Ted is so likable: He is not a superhero, or an antihero, those figures we see too much of these days.
The same vivid ensemble behind Ted is back, led by Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca and Brett Goldstein’s Roy Kent, who continues to amuse without smiling. They are critical to the show’s success, the ones Ted pulls (oh the temptation to say lassos) into a respectful and affectionate whole.