Images from a trailer for Ted Lasso S3. Images from a trailer for Ted Lasso S3. (Apple TV on YouTube.)

We can’t get a consensus on almost anything in America. And yet, Season 1 of Ted Lasso amid a pandemic was a universally applauded godsend. Season 2, while slightly different, was still delightful and critically acclimated. So, we eagerly anticipated Season 3 like children on Christmas Eve.

After unwrapping the first six of the 12-episode run, what do we think? Halfway through the final season of the beloved Apple TV show, if you are experiencing mixed emotions, you’re not alone. Perhaps we should be patient. Season 2 had its early ups and downs before finishing strong. But you can’t blame the standalone episodes for upsetting the rhythm this year. So far, Season 3 seems unfocused and not as joyful as the first two.

Ted Lasso is a victim of its Emmy-award-winning success. These days the lifecycle of shows is growing shorter and shorter. It’s hard to stay relevant in a fickle entertainment world where audiences’ interests shift to the next big thing faster than ever. Meeting growing expectations is demanding and probably one of the reasons why star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis had his challenges getting Season 3 finished. It also may explain why Ted Lasso is coming to an end.

Here are some of the things we love (and don’t love) so far:

What we love: Zava! The introduction of the talented, self-centered, and yet still likable Zava has been a boost. He’s such a well-developed, wonderful spoof that he seems authentic, leading many to suspect that Zava is based on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Zava speaks with the charisma of a cult leader who expects the world to follow him. What makes his presence funnier is how fellow narcissist Jamie hates Zava. Real recognizes real.

What we don’t love: Shandy. You can make an argument that Shandy is a necessary evil for Keeley’s story arc. Still, there is very little compelling about her. From the start, Shandy seems like an annoying opportunist that the audience immediately sees as toxic for Keeley. One of the joys of Ted Lasso is how the characters don’t behave predictably. Everything about Shandy is obvious. Perhaps there will be a payoff eventually.

What we love: The evolution of Roy and Jamie’s relationship. It’s not a full-on bromance, but Roy and Jamie are now something closer to friends than rivals. The bicycle scene in Episode 6 (Sunflowers) perfectly encapsulates how far they have come. It’s more than a coach-player partnership. We’ve reached the point where the two are confiding in each other, which is sweet. In hindsight, it also gives added weight to one of Season 2’s high points when Roy hugs Jamie after his fight with his father.

What we don’t love: The lack of the resumption of Sam and Rebecca’s relationship: Sam was the breakout star of Season 2, and the reveal that Sam was Rebecca’s secret Bantr match was one of the most shocking moments of the entire series. In the real world, there are plenty of reasons why a team owner shouldn’t be romantically involved with one of her players. However, the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Hopefully, they will hook up again before the show ends.

What we love: Colin’s emerging storyline: Colin’s sexuality has been a source of speculation for a while. This season, it was confirmed that the footballer is indeed gay. As progressive and welcoming as we would like to believe society is, the sports world hasn’t been as quick to fully embrace the LGBTQ community. Colin has kept the secret to himself until being discovered and later confronted by Trent Crimm whom we find out is also gay. The conversation between the two seems realistic and heartfelt.

What we don’t love: Nate’s erratic storyline. We’ve invested quite a bit of time loving to hate Nathan Shelley. His explosion in the Season 2 finale and The Wonder Kid’s departure to West Ham has been a fascinating heel turn. We expected him to grow more sinister under the Emperor Palpatine-style mentorship of Rupert before possibly having some sort of redemption at the end. But we haven’t quite seen that. Instead, Nate has been conflicted and insecure. Nate was at his best when he was maximum dislikable.

What we love: Ted is seemingly on the verge of a breakthrough. There are a lot of Kansas Easter eggs in Ted Lasso, including plenty of local barbecue shoutouts in the Kansas City area. The latest episode is an homage to former Kansas State basketball coach Tex Winter, best known as the pioneer of the triangle offense. Winter was an assistant under Phil Jackson, who used the system to help the Chicago Bulls win six championships, and Los Angeles Lakers win five. Based on what we’ve seen, Ted might use the soccer equivalent of that strategy to get AFC Richmond out of its funk.

What we don’t love: Ted’s lack of leadership. Up to the most recent episode, it seemed like Ted had mentally checked out on the season. Even when the Greyhounds struggled to the point of relegation in previous years, he exuded believable positivity. This season, Lasso has looked lost and oddly disengaged. That likely has to do with homesickness and being away from his son. This will possibly lead to Ted leaving. But it makes him look like a weak, ineffective leader. Perhaps it sets the stage for Roy being his successor.

We have six episodes left in Season 3. Let’s hope for a second-half rally.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.