“Ted Lasso season 3 is shaping up to be the Apple TV+ dramedy's biggest, most introspective season to date -- and potentially its most emotionally potent.”
- Reliably standout performances from Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein, and Jason Sudeikis
- An emotionally charged central conflict
- A heightened, introspective tone that feels genuinely earned
- Several superfluous storylines
- Episodes that feel consistently overlong
Near the end of one of the first episodes of Ted Lasso season 3, the curmudgeonly Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) looks back on his decision to leave behind his longtime football club, Chelsea F.C., with palpable regret. Roy made the decision to do so the moment he began to feel like his age was slowing him down because, as Jason Sudeikis’ Ted puts it, he felt it’d be better to quit than be fired. Now, though, Roy admits, “There’s a part of me that thinks I should have stayed, and just enjoyed myself.”
The scene, which is spell-bindingly well-written and performed, is one of several introspective moments featured in the opening installments of Ted Lasso season 3. The award-winning, fan-favorite Apple TV+ original series returns this year from its nearly two-year-long break with a season that, whether it does or doesn’t end up being its last, certainly feels primed to be. The show has, by no means, ever been afraid of indulging in the kind of introspective scenes like the one described above. However, such moments have never felt quite as mature or measured as they do in Ted Lasso season 3.
Ted Lasso season 3 begins, like the two seasons before it, on the verge of a new football season. For Sudeikis’ Ted, the commencement of another football season has made him start to seriously question why he’s still living in England, an entire ocean away from his son, Henry, and his ex-wife, Michelle (Andrea Anders). Ted originally moved to England so that he and Michelle could see if some space could fix their crumbling marriage. Now that he and Michelle are divorced, though, the Ted Lasso season 3 premiere finds Sudeikis’ ever-optimistic coach suddenly confused about his continued purpose in England.
To make matters worse, the forthcoming football season is loaded with higher stakes than either of the previous two Ted has coached his team, AFC Richmond, through. Following the climactic events of its season 2 finale, Ted Lasso returns with Ted and his former protégé, Nate (Nick Mohammed), in charge of two opposing teams. The self-imposed dissolution of his friendship with Ted has made Nate particularly eager to crush his former football team. Ted, for his part, doesn’t seem all that concerned with beating Nate.
The same cannot be said, however, for Ted’s friend and boss, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), who is desperate to see her, Ted, and AFC Richmond crush Nate’s team, West Ham United, and its owner, her misogynistic ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head). Previously, the football seasons in Ted Lasso have always felt a bit like an afterthought. While the show’s central sport certainly isn’t the main focus of its third season, either, Rupert’s role as Nate’s boss adds more emotional stakes to Ted Lasso’s latest football season than either of the series’ previous two.
Rebecca’s heightened investment in ensuring that Rupert and his team do not humiliate her, Ted, and AFC Richmond also clears the way for Waddingham and Sudeikis to share more scenes together in Ted Lasso season 3 than they did in the show’s ambitious but uneven second. As gimmicky as it was, Rebecca and Ted’s rivalry-turned-friendship was one of the strongest aspects of Ted Lasso’s acclaimed first season, so it’s a genuine delight to get to see Waddingham and Sudeikis share the screen more often in the series’ newest episodes. It doesn’t hurt that both Waddingham and Sudeikis continue to turn in two of the best performances that Ted Lasso has to offer, either.
While Rebecca and Ted’s stories feel more focused this season, the same cannot necessarily be said for the show itself. Like so many TV sitcoms before it, Ted Lasso made the mistake at the end of its second season of setting several of its characters on different paths from each other. Ted Lasso season 3, consequently, tries to split its focus between the continued goings-on at AFC Richmond, Nate’s adventures at West Ham United, and the new PR start-up run by Keeley Jones (Juno Temple). As a result, the first four installments of Ted Lasso season 3 feel occasionally scattered and overblown.
The season’s multiple storylines have also forced Ted Lasso‘s episodic runtimes to expand yet again (not a single one of the episodes that were provided early to critics clocked in under 40 minutes). While all of the show’s characters remain as likable as ever, too, not all of its storylines are as compelling as others. The series’ decision to introduce superfluous new subplots surrounding longtime characters like Colin Hughes (Billy Harris) and Thierry Zoreaux (Moe Jeudy-Lamour), for instance, only makes Ted Lasso’s latest season feel even more bloated at times.
Despite the few narrative missteps its new season makes, Ted Lasso hasn’t lost the winning sense of humor and sincerity that made it such a surprise hit in the first place. Its increased focus this year on Roy, Ted, and Rebecca, in particular, helps Ted Lasso season 3 feel more emotionally precise than the show’s previous seasons.
Sudeikis’ Ted is still, as he says, very much a “work in prog-mess” when Ted Lasso season 3 catches up with him, but the new ways in which the series forces the character to face his emotional shortcomings feel movingly organic and earned. Ted’s struggles to admit when those he loves let him down ring particularly true, especially given how much the emotional fallout of his and Nate’s bitter separation hangs over everything in Ted Lasso season 3. The same goes for Rebecca’s desire to “beat” Head’s Rupert, which already feels like the perfect catalyst for Waddingham’s proud football club owner to finally finish the emotional journey she began in Ted Lasso’s debut season.
In other words, while Ted Lasso’s latest season isn’t quite as efficiently written as its first, the show hasn’t lost touch with the things that made it so great in the first place. In fact, regardless of whether or not AFC Richmond actually comes out on top this time, all the necessary pieces seem to be in place for Ted Lasso season 3 to send the series out on a triumphant high.
New episodes of Ted Lasso season 3 premiere Wednesdays on Apple TV+. Digital Trends was given early access to the season’s first four episodes.
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