Why I love Ted Lasso

A reader gave me one of my favorite reviews. He liked Swift Horses Racing because my characters were a mixed bag.

Sometimes they made good choices, sometimes they made really bad ones.

“I like that,” he said, “Because people aren’t just one thing.”

This past year, one of my favorite shows has been Ted Lasso (on Apple TV). This show, based on a series of funny NBC commercials for the British Premier soccer league, is about an American football coach who goes to England to accept a job coaching a professional football (soccer) team. Ted Lasso, a folksy optimist, wins over the skeptical team, its owner, and a journalist who wants to poke holes in Ted to see if he’s real.

Obligated by law to say on every appearance: “Trent Crimm. From The Independent.”

Season One of the show introduces you to Ted and the Richmond Greyhounds, a team struggling to keep their standing in England’s Premier league. They’re losing match after match. Ted knows almost nothing about soccer, but he’s convinced that uniting the team—with kindness and teamwork–will save them. He posts a handwritten sign in the locker room: BELIEVE.

Every character’s dealing with something, and it affects what they do. Rebecca’s just divorced the team’s former owner, Rupert Mannion, a world-class cheater and narcissist. Jamie Tartt has an abusive father. Sam Obisanya misses his Nigerian homeland. Coach Beard is in a relationship with a selfish, flighty woman he can’t seem to leave. The team’s former equipment manager, Nate, also has a bad dad and isn’t taken seriously when he’s promoted to assistant coach, because he’s a brown man.

Oh, Nate 😢

And beneath his smiling, perky demeanor, Ted Lasso himself is hiding a secret.

There are two things I love about the show. One thing is, people are generally kind to each other. After Ted comes to Richmond, people become kinder. People are made aware of their brokenness, through being around Ted, despite his imperfections. Even Higgins, head of football relations, is freed from being the reluctant lackey of former owner Rupert Mannion. We find out Higgins has an amazing marriage, and his house is totally where you want to spend Christmas.

The other thing I love about the show is, people aren’t just one thing. Just as in real life, people are combinations of good and bad. Of wisdom and cluelessness (Coach Beard is a great example of this). Sadness and humor. Power and weakness. They stumble around with their sharp edges, sometimes wounding other people. They do terrible things (Wow—that last episode of season 2). But the characters’ brokenness doesn’t invalidate the good they do.

You know since you’ve followed the show this far, there’s hope for redemption. That redemption usually doesn’t come in a sappy way, but in a kind of best-case, real-life scenario.

Accelerated and condensed to fit within the bounds of a 30-minute episode, of course.

Hitting the road, post-lockdown

After 18 months of lockdown, last week we took our first family road trip in almost two years.

I was one of those people who didn’t mind so much being trapped inside during the pandemic. I loved having my family around me, and I enjoyed not having to drive places. I read lots of books. I wrote a lot. Teaching? Boot up the computer. Get-togethers and meetings? The same. I suddenly found myself in the odd position of being on time to things.

But travel is a big deal for me, and I was missing it. We were set to go on a trip to Disneyland the week that the Bay Area (and the amusement park) shut down in March 2020. And while I could have found a way to travel during lockdown, we chose to follow the fairly strict recommendations of my county.

With long Spotify playlists and bags full of not-too-healthy snacks, all of us vaccinated people set out for Seattle to visit my oldest son and his wife, whom we hadn’t seen in two years. This time, we had a little dog with us, which turned out to be easier than I thought it would be and more entertaining. There are lots of pet-friendly hotels! And at least one coffee shop.

The pup, with booties to protect nice, hardwood floors

In our case, months of deprivation led to appreciation. I looked on things with fresh eyes—the northern Central Valley with its fields of sunflowers and almond trees wasn’t just a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else; it looked beautiful to me. Oregon’s rivers seemed so exotic—we don’t have legit rivers in the Bay Area. And the Seattle area, with its ferry boats and miles of deep, green forests was stunning. We took a ferry boat over to Bainbridge Island to visit a friend and loved that we could drive onto a boat and get off and drive wherever we wanted on the other side.

Oregon’s Willamette River, looking very exotic to my Bay Area eyes
Sunflower farms in the northern Central Valley.

But the best thing? Hugs. We could hug each other. We could talk and see each others’ expressions without masks–and not through a video screen. Zoom kept us from complete isolation, but we were made to see, hear, feel and connect with each other in person. Nothing substitutes for that, long term.

My husband and I are big fans of British comedy. On a show called That Mitchell and Webb Look, there’s a repeating skit called “After the Event,” in which contestants play a game show after a fictional apocalyptic event has decimated their society. It’s obvious that this event has maimed and deeply affected the contestants. The audience is warned to “REMAIN INDOORS” and not to think about “The Event.”  

Will COVID be our “Event”?  It’s possible that something worse will come along in our lifetime. But now, most of us have the ability to go outside, hug one another, see each other in the flesh, and travel (to most places). I’m going to enjoy it as long as I can.

Have you taken any big trips, post-lockdown? What was it like?

All together after almost two years

I have to clarify (because he will read this) that my husband Pete (third from the left) chose to fly to Seattle rather than do the road trip portion with us. And that’s okay! He loves both us and trips, but long car rides with very talkative people and loud singing along to playlists are not his thing.