What I thought about: Ted Lasso

Do me a favour. Open Apple TV+, look for Ted Lasso, and hit play. This heartwarming comedy had no right to be this good on paper – or even going off the trailer. And yet, I laughed. I teared up a bit. But most of all, I just really enjoyed it.

I agree with Lasso, tea is disgusting.

What’s it about?
After helping an American football team to success in the US, Ted Lasso and his assistant coach (referred to as ‘Coach’ pretty much throughout) are drafted in to support Richmond FC, an English football team (read: soccer) who are teetering on the brink of relegation from the premier league.

Leaving aside the elephant in the room, Lasso has a unique coaching style that is centred on belief, high sprits, and bringing out the best of everyone on the team. His unorthodox approach (and aforementioned elephant) do not go down well with the people of Richmond, who give him an icy cold reception, as do most of the players in the team (at least initially).

What do I like about it?
I don’t particularly like football. I don’t particularly like shows that drop Americans in England and show the character navigating our ‘different’ ways. So by all accounts, I shouldn’t have liked this show.

In the end, it comes down to the sheer charm of the show (and Lasso). The show makes each character stand out – often going from piss-taking comic to serious and heartfelt in mere moments. You start to find yourself rooting for the show’s antagonists, not giving up on them despite their serious flaws, just like Lasso does. It’s so human.

What do I not like about it?
I’m drawing a blank here. Ted Lasso really is a gem of a show. It’s not something I obsess over, like Elite, or You, instead it’s something for everyone, in every way.

If I had to pick something out, I would say that I didn’t really get the whole divorce thing. It wasn’t quite enough to knock Lasso for more than a day or two, and his (ex) wife seemed pretty cool with him the whole time?

Worth a watch?
Isn’t it clear from the above? YES! Yes, and if you end up not liking it, please let me know because I will have some questions for you.

By the way…

  • There’s a second season on the way, and my only concern is how they will top the first one.
  • Why does Antony Head always get cast as the dickhead ex-husband? See e.g. The Inbetweeners and The Stranger.

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Quickfire round: Loaded

Four life-long friends become millionaires overnight as the closing money comes in from the sale of their gaming business. Unable to handle their new found wealth, and facing pressure from their new US mega-corp owners to make a soulless sequel of their hit game Cat Factory, hilarity (and woe) ensues.

Leon coaxes the group onto his privet yacht to get them to concentrate on their new game

This show was cancelled in 2017 after one season and, if you check the cast’s biographies online, it’s hardly mentioned as one of their top appearances. I can’t think why, as I really enjoyed it. Don’t be mistaken – it’s nothing like Mythic Quest, which sees day to day game development issues and is surprisingly good insight into the industry. The actual game development process takes a back seat in this show and instead we see how the four characters handle their wealth and relationships with family, friends, their new boss and, ultimately, each other.

There’s Ewan, a posh, gay programmer whom most people don’t know is a co-founder at the developer, Idyl Hands, because he’s always asked not to appear in photo shoots by Leon, who technically doesn’t do any work as he’s not a coder or an artist, but more a product evangelist. Watto, a recovering alcoholic and artist, appears perhaps least deserving of the £9.2 million each co-founder received in the deal (plus £26m in stock options). Finally there’s Josh, a nervous, nagging, woke guy who is obsessive and jealous about his girlfriend.

They each handle the money differently and their friendships are tested when they get pushed to produce another hit game. Watto becomes addicted to collecting things. Ewan decides to give an employee a £20k bonus to prove to her that he IS a co-founder, resulting in him having to do the same for this entire team after they find out. Leon, eager to show his teachers he amounted to something, buys a helicopter. And Josh… well, he’s open to trying some of the more expensive wines on the menu.

I had fun watching this, but the episodes (with an average 43 minute runtime) did seem a bit long for this type of comedy. If you like the sound of it and enjoy watching some classic British comedy, you won’t be disappointed.

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What I thought about: Trying

When is a comedy not a comedy? How relatable should it be, if it doesn’t make us laugh out loud? This cute little show about a couple in their 30s navigating the adoption system is sometimes funny, sometimes heartwarming, but never large doses of either.

It’s all smiles – perhaps too much smiling, considering their underlying issues.

What’s it about?
Jason and Nikki are 30-somethings living in Camden, London. They’ve just failed a round of IVF and have been told the prospects of any subsequent rounds succeeding are poor. Not wanting to miss out on the ‘joys’ of having children, as all their friends are now doing, they apply to adopt. The show follows their progress, as well as touching lightly on the lives of their friends and family. Nikki’s older sister is dating a jobless ‘creative thinker’ type, Jason’s best friend has just had his second child and isn’t taking it well. Meanwhile, Nikki’s Tinder-equipped younger colleague is there to remind her of her lost youth.

What do I like about it?
There are some funny moments in this one. Jason is a natural joker, and often comes out with the best lines in the show. I also really liked the small montages at the end of each episode where we see just a few seconds into the life of some of the more minor characters in the show, such as Jason’s boss Googling for things to do in Geneva after quitting her job, and their social worker cleaning her jacket at the laundrette (I won’t spoil why). Speaking of the social worker, it’s a stand-out performance from Imelda Staunton, nicely capturing the well-intentioned scatty-ness of the character.

What do I not like about it?
Sweet as it is, I have a number of concerns with this show. I’m not sure how relatable it’s going to be to many people. They’re a young couple living in central London – one might dismiss them as stereotypical Millennials. I feel as though the show is going to appeal mostly to young adults with kids, or young adults living in London looking to get kids. For everyone else, I worry they won’t see what the point of the show is at all. It’s certainly not funny enough to stand out as a comedy in its own right.

There are random bits and pieces that I think are supposed to have some kind of meaning, like Jason’s meeting with his ex, but either they are scripted poorly or they just don’t go far enough, because I didn’t get the point. Many of the show’s elements, from the couple’s parents to their day at the approval panel, lack sufficient context or depth, and it affects the flow of the show.

One thing I really disliked is the strange blur/aberration at the top and bottom of the screen in most of the shots. Sometimes there’s also a fish-eye lens effect going on. I suppose it was a creative choice, but to me it was an unnecessary and unsightly distraction.

Worth a watch?
Watch the trailer, and don’t set your hopes any higher than the impression it gives you. Still interested? Then go for it, it’s nice. Otherwise, no need.

By the way…

  • A cameo from The Mash Report‘s Rachel Parris was a surprise.
  • This is the first British show to come out of Apple TV+. More, please!

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