We wanted to believe in Season Three of Ted Lasso. When you feel passionate about a TV show, you’ll stay tuned even if it doesn’t live up to expectations.
There were high hopes that our favorite fictional footballers would engineer a second-half rally similar to Season Two. After all, Ted Lasso’s Emmy-award-winning success was built on redemption—that despite how messed up things can get, we can all find a path back. If Jamie Tartt can morph from lout to lovable, there’s hope for us all.
This version of Ted Lasso never found its way back. Season Three wasn’t bad, just disappointing. It was uncharacteristically underwritten and unfocused. That isn’t easy to acknowledge for anyone who loves Apple TV’s breakthrough comedy-drama. You instinctively want to defend it, pointing a wagging finger of admonishment to anyone who dares to utter a discouraging word about Ted Lasso.
But as Dr. Sharon would say: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
Jason Sudeikis and company tried to salvage what is expected to be the last season. They stuffed as many callbacks, Easter eggs, cameos, and surprises into the series finale as possible. We learn Coach Beard’s first name, who will be AFC Richmond’s new manager, and what happened to the “Believe” sign. The writers also (smartly) left some questions unanswered, such as any resolution to the Roy-Keeley-Jamie love triangle.
Titled “So Long, Farewell,” the end of Ted Lasso as we know it delivers enough emotional highs to placate most of its audience. The final 30 minutes 0f the 75-minute episode are particularly good. Not all TV shows have a satisfying ending. Most don’t (Seinfeld, Game of Thrones, Lost). It’s a hard, thankless task. Succession is the exception.
Still, some might feel a sense of sadness over Ted Lasso. Not because it’s (presumably) over but because the final season should have been better. All the elements for a fantastic finish were right there.
We never got a major surprise or cliffhanger. The show felt in desperate need of a driving narrative that was going to sustain our interest throughout the duration. How and will Rebecca and Sam get back together? What despicable things will Nate do under Rupert’s influence before the inevitable redemption pivot? Is there a glimmer of hope for Ted and his ex-wife?
The most obvious failure of Season 3 is how it handled Nate’s story arc. We never got to see the treasonous Wonderkid reach his evil potential. What made the ending of Season Two so great was that we experienced a turncoat moment that set the stage for Season Three. Under Rupert’s guidance, it would have been fun to see Nate continue to go further down the abyss before having a last-second change of heart. It would have made the West Ham vs. AFC Richmond showdown more meaningful.
Instead, Season Three takes us on an unnecessary Nate rom-com detour, which ultimately leads to him quitting West Ham. You can argue that Ted Lasso isn’t a show that highlights villains. The counterargument is Rupert, who never got a redemption arc. He was a jerk for all three seasons.
Season 3 had some unexpected twists (the introduction of Zava, Keeley’s romance with Jack, the appearance of Ted’s mother) but with the exception of the outrageously egomaniacal Zava, most of the surprises failed to connect.
Ted Lasso held a special place in our hearts, and that’s rare in a crowded entertainment world where you have more choices than ever before. So, when Ted Lasso lets us down, as it did this year, it stings.
There hasn’t been an official announcement regarding the future of the show. So Long, Farewell left open the possibility for spinoffs. Seems unlikely that any will reach the peak of Lassomania 2020.
It was the perfect show at the right moment. And in the end, even Ted Lasso couldn’t live up to Ted Lasso.