10 Facts You Need to Know About Jason Sudeikis' Hit Show 'Ted Lasso'
Test how well you know this sleeper comedy as it returns for a second season
En español | When it premiered last August on Apple TV+, Ted Lasso was exactly the kind of show we needed to get through a tough year. This fish-out-of-water comedy (whose second season premieres July 23) follows an American college football coach, played by Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis, recruited to head up a British soccer team — despite knowing nothing about the sport. And while many sitcoms these days can be mean-spirited and cynical, audiences instead found a show that wears its heart on its sleeve, with sincere characters who truly care about one another and a real streak of positivity. The series became a word-of-mouth sleeper hit and recently racked up 20 Emmy nominations. Here are 10 things to know about the show before Season 2 kicks off.
1. The character of Ted Lasso had an unlikely origin story
When the series was first announced, some culture writers expressed a healthy dose of skepticism about its prospects: How could this show be any good? That's because the character of Ted Lasso had gotten his start in a series of NBC Sports promos tied to their coverage of Premier League soccer. You might remember that ABC tried something similar by creating a 2007 sitcom around the Geico Cavemen, and it was a notorious flop. Luckily, much like the team he coaches, the underdog Lasso was able to transcend his scrappy roots.
Watch it: The NBC Sports promo, on YouTube
2. The show broke records with its 20 Emmy nominations
Earlier this month, Ted Lasso picked up a whopping 20 Primetime Emmy and Creative Arts Emmy nominations, the most for any comedy this year, including best show, best actor (Jason Sudeikis), two for best supporting actress (Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple), and four for best supporting actor (Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed and Jeremy Swift, 61). That impressively robust haul bested a long-standing record for the most nominations of a freshman comedy series, which was set by Glee with 19 in 2010.
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3. The theme song is performed by a very famous band
Recognize the voice singing the short but catchy theme song? It's Marcus Mumford, the front man of the folksy British rock band Mumford & Sons. He and Sudeikis first met when the band played SNL in 2012, and Sudeikis later appeared in their “Hopeless Wanderer” music video. When Sudeikis asked him to collaborate with composer Tom Howe on a theme song and score for his new show, Mumford told The Hollywood Reporter that he looked to the show's plot to get the sound right: “We felt the theme song had to be placed somewhere right in the middle of the Atlantic, between the U.K. and the U.S., so we listened to a lot of Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers, and then also Creedence Clearwater Revival, as references, in saying it should feel somewhere halfway between London and Kansas, where Ted's from.” The songwriting duo picked up an Emmy nomination for their efforts.
Watch it: The music video for “Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford & Sons (featuring Jason Sudeikis and three more comedy cameos), on YouTube
4. The show was created by sitcom boundary-breakers
Critics have applauded the show's poignant blend of jokes and true heart, a stylistic trademark of cocreator Bill Lawrence, 52, who put that hybrid tone to good use in shows like Scrubs, Cougar Town and Spin City. Lawrence even roped in Scrubs star Zach Braff to direct an episode, and he earned a best directing Emmy nomination in the process.
5. Jason Sudeikis actually is that nice in real life
Uproxx writer Mike Ryan recently shared a story that proves Sudeikis is as genuine as the character he portrays. Back in 2017, Ryan's father died suddenly of a heart attack. A few months later, he interviewed Sudeikis about his movie Kodachrome — the story of a man making amends with his dying father — and mentioned that the film's themes really resonated with him. After their chat, Sudeikis sent Ryan a heartfelt email that began: “Just wanted to shoot ya a quick note and let ya know that I'm so sorry for your loss. And I thank you for feeling comfortable with me to share …. It's important and f-----g necessary for us human beings to do that. To connect. To share. And to not concern ourselves too much with the outcome of such bravery. Especially the men of the world.” If you want to read the rest of his email — you should! — head over to uproxx.com.
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6. Jason Sudeikis actually is that nice in real life, part 2
After England's 3-2 loss to Italy at this year's Euro 2020 championship, many British Facebook and Twitter users unleashed a torrent of racist abuse against three of the team's Black players: Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. At the show's Season 2 premiere, Sudeikis wore a simple display of support — a black sweatshirt with the words “Jadon & Marcus & Bukayo” printed in big, bold, white letters.
7. Hannah Waddingham, who plays Rebecca, has an incredible voice
In Episode 7, the team finds itself in Liverpool for a match, and they end up celebrating at a karaoke bar, where the steely team owner, Rebecca (Waddingham), belts out an impressive rendition of “Let It Go” from Frozen. The team is shocked about her pipes, but if you know anything about actress Hannah Waddingham, her talents will not come as a surprise. The 47-year-old triple threat is a lauded West End musical star who has received three Laurence Olivier Award nominations for her roles in Spamalot, A Little Night Music and Kiss Me, Kate. And if she seems especially adept at playing icy and intimidating, she's had practice. She has starred as both the Witch in Into the Woods and the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz on stage, as well as the infamous Septa Unella (aka “The Shame Nun") on Game of Thrones.
8. The squad is welcoming a new member in Season 2
Season 2 will introduce a sports psychologist named Sharon, played by British actress Sarah Niles. If you're a fan of U.K. television shows, you might recognize her from Beautiful People, which she starred in opposite Olivia Colman, or I May Destroy You, another Emmy darling from last year in which she played a police detective.
9. There's no Premier League team called AFC Richmond …
The team at the heart of the show is fictional, but fans of British football will certainly find parallels to real-life players and clubs. The hotheaded Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), for instance, is clearly inspired by Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane, while Lasso himself draws on the unorthodox coaching methods of Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp (54). “Man, when I heard about him taking his squad to go do karaoke, I was like, ‘Hellooo, story idea …,'” Sudeikis told Sports Illustrated.
10. … but you can visit some of the real filming locations
AFC Richmond matches are filmed in the London Borough of Croydon at Selhurst Park, the home grounds of the Crystal Palace F.C. The team has historically been one of the biggest underdogs in the Premier League, meaning it won't be hard to score a ticket to see them play on your first post-pandemic London trip. While AFC Richmond might not be real, the town of Richmond definitely is. Located along a bend in the River Thames, this stately village in southwest London is home to Richmond Park and its 650-odd deer. Here, you can find the exterior of Ted's apartment at 11a Paved Court and grab a pint at the pub where he blows off steam. The show's Crown & Anchor is “played” by The Prince's Head, a pub on the edge of Richmond Green that's been going strong since 1705.
Nicholas DeRenzo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and travel. Previously he was executive editor of United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset and New York magazine.