It would be reasonable to doubt a last place team who uses a forgetful goldfish as their honorary mascot, but it is exactly this sentiment that Ted Lasso, an exhilarating football dramedy series, uses to prove the power of an underdog all the while capturing hearts on and off the pitch. This 11-time Emmy-winning comedy continues to win over audiences with a deeply relatable charm in its third season that premieres on March 15 on AppleTV+. Fans have been speculating if this would be Lasso’s last season, and executive producer, writer, and titular star Jason Sudeikis confirmed Monday with Deadline that: “This is the end of this story that we wanted to tell, that we were hoping to tell, that we loved to tell.” The inimitable and also four-time Emmy-winning Sudeikis continues to defy odds as a former American football coach with cheeky anecdotes and an infectious spirit. With an unexpected yet fitting narrative shift that builds off its core values of teamwork and kindness, it is once again time to believe in ‘Believe.’
The end of season two brought about some big changes for the Lasso leads, from Keeley (Juno Temple) becoming her own boss ass bitch by starting her own PR firm to Roy (Brett Goldstein) rejoining the coaching staff at AFC Richmond. The former couple’s breakup brought many viewers to tears, but not all hope may be lost as they evaluate their stressful work-life balance and question what lies ahead. As word about the breakup spreads, everyone from the arena usher to Roy’s teammates offer him their condolences, sending him into a panicked rage that makes him start to reconsider his decision. Not unlike Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), who navigated the dating app trenches last season and found a deeper connection with Richmond player Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), yet broke it off due to her trust issues from manipulative ex and coach of rival football club West Ham, Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head). He continues to cruelly taunt Rebecca every chance he gets, especially having hired new head coach, Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed).
Nate’s devilish decision to leave Richmond and work as head coach for Rupert’s new West Ham team came after a brilliant edit showcasing his self-critical transformation into his villain era in that season two cliffhanger. The Wonder Kid, still obsessed with checking Twitter reactions more than Elon Musk himself, dons an intimidating, hardened exterior as a defense mechanism after feeling overlooked by the overly optimistic Lasso. The new mentorship Nate finds with Rupert is exactly the kind of fatherly validation he’s been yearning for, even though Rupert’s eager admiration always feels disingenuous. Those familiar with the show know how deep the fatherly connections run: Ted opening up with therapist Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles) about his father’s suicide while trying to stay connected to Henry half a world away; Nate’s father downplaying or criticizing his successes, Rebecca’s father’s multiple affairs, and Jamie Tartt’s insulting and exploitative dad. These familial relationships continue to motivate the characters to overcome their past anxieties and inspire unexpected changes and relationships.
With an opening scene that has Ted sending off his son Henry (Gus Turner) back to Kansas City, the homesick Lasso starts to question why he’s still in London. Multiple appearances by ex Michelle (Andrea Anders) suggest that Ted may be finally confronting his divorce directly but also itching to return home, himself. Though not in the initial four episodes available to screen, reports last fall noted Becky Ann Baker was cast as Lasso’s mother, so a return to Kansas City may be in the cards later this season. As writer, co-producer, and star of the show, Goldstein uses his comedy background to inject Roy with an even more hilariously steely, yet endearing disposition. So his suggestion to coach Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) comes as a shock after two seasons of heated exchanges, but their newfound friendship means the Roy-mie (Tarnt?) fandom has officially begun. Waddingham gets to showcase her commanding range and tact, too, allowing Ms. Welton to do everything in her power to defeat Rupert once and for all. Enraged by every pundit placing Richmond in dead last, she hopes that bringing on the egotistical nightmare yet star player Zava will elevate Richmond to avoid relegation again or maybe even win the Premier League. It’s unclear whether Zava having a large tattoo on his own back or introducing himself with “It’s an honor for you to meet me” proves that he’ll be quite the handful whichever team he joins. Here to capture the entire journey after leaving The Independent is favorite journalist, Trent Crimm (James Lance). In a more featured role this season including as a potential Diamond Dog member, he gets a more personal look at the team by proposing to write a team biography. Through his omniscient presence, he starts to uncover some of Richmond’s hidden secrets, including potentially multiple queer storylines that emerge in the third episode. This overdue narrative looks to dispel the taboo of being a gay athlete, where players are hesitant to come out due to continued bullying today.
Covering topics from parenthood to friendship and destigmatizing talking about mental health, Ted Lasso has proven itself to be much more than just a show about football. The cast and creators are humbled by the show’s passionate following and their response to the hit’s imminent conclusion, but Sudeikis assured a satisfying conclusion having ended the show on their own terms. Never say never to a potential spin-off for this AppleTV+ hit, but one should expect character arcs to be neatly tied up with a gratifying send-off based on the writer’s brilliant delivery thus far. The beginning of season three proves an unforgettable knockout of an already heartwarming and hilarious journey that, whether they bring home the gold or not, will be worth every second.
The third and final 12-episode season of Ted Lasso begins streaming weekly March 15 on AppleTV+.