Ted Lasso is coming to an end – or is it? Jason Sudeikis, the show’s co-creator who also plays the eponymous US coach of Richmond football club, previously said that he envisioned the series as having a three-season arc.
That would imply the ongoing third season will be the show’s last, but Brendan Hunt, one of the show’s other co-creators, isn’t so sure.
“The following things are true,” the writer, who also plays Ted’s right-hand man, Coach Beard, tells Yahoo UK.
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“We did always see it as a three movement suite, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's done. We are definitely going to take a break here.”
“We're all very tired of each other's faces,” he laughs. “They are lovely, wonderful, huggable faces, which need to go away for a bit. And after that, we're going to regroup and see what we think.”
He explains that, despite the creators’ desire to initially stop at three seasons, “apparently the whole world would much prefer that we not stopped.”
“Do we have artistic integrity?!” he asks with another grin. “What are we going to do? We'll figure it out later.”
Many fans are speculating that the current season is gearing up for Ted to head back to the US to spend more time with his son. And while Hunt’s tight-lipped over what’s to come in season three, there’s a chance the show could continue one day without its protagonist.
When Yahoo UK suggests a spin-off about AFC Richmond and its players, Hunt responds: “Truly, everything’s on the table. [But while] we are obviously very comfortable taking certain liberties with the football world, to get into a fourth or fifth or sixth season where somehow this club is keeping all the same players, that would strain even our fantastic credulity.
"But I don't know, maybe every season is one week and everyone’s just ageing very, very fast.”
Should the adventures of Ted Lasso and Richmond’s many lovable characters continue, there will be an audience ready to watch. Debuting during the height of lockdown, the series quickly became an online sensation thanks to its whimsical and feel-good nature.
The likes of Hannah Waddingham, who portrays AFC Richmond’s owner Rebecca, and Brett Goldstein, the foul-mouthed midfielder-turned-coach Roy Kent, have become household names – Goldstein even has a future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the character Hercules.
Perhaps the biggest testament to the show’s popularity is the fact the US president invited the cast to the White House to discuss the importance of mental health, a theme in the series.
“Ending up in the Oval Office because of the show we made about soccer was not really the plan,” Hunt says. “It's just been bonkers. [At the start] we were on a streaming service that essentially didn't exist. We didn't know if we would even get to season two. The insanity of now being basically led into any soccer match for free. It's absolutely bonkers.”
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So impactful has Ted Lasso been that many fans have drawn on the similarities between the story of the fictional AFC Richmond and the very real Wrexham AFC, the Welsh football club that has been taken over by Hollywood’s Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, and is subject of the documentary Welcome to Wrexham.
“We're not credited on the show, I think they just make fun of Jason, frankly, but that's fine, they’re big dudes,” Hunt says with a dry smile.
“Let me go on the record here: I f***ing love the whole Wrexham story. What they're doing is kick ass. I think the documentary, which some people scorned at the beginning, saying, ‘They are just [buying the club] to make a documentary.’ No. They're making the documentary to make money for the club. This is f***ing brilliant.
"And now they're in the league, and they're going to play a friendly against Man U? The sky's the f***ing limit. No one should assume that they're just going to get promotion after promotion. But what they've done already is a massive achievement. And full f***ing credit to them. I think it's really, really cool.”
Season three of Ted Lasso’s now coming out post-lockdown, post-POTUS visits, post-Wrexham, and it would be easy to imagine that audiences may not embrace the series’ wholesome nature now that the world’s not such a terrifying place. Hunt, however, is still feeling the love from everyone watching.
“There's probably something inherently different this season, given that people aren't holding them for dear life in a world of darkness and confusion and questions,” he says. “But people are still pretty damn lovely about the show.
“Everywhere I go people, people will stop me – mostly it's for selfies – but often to really share stuff about what the show has meant to them, and often their families. It's still incredibly overwhelming and gratifying.”
One element of season three that has become a talking point is how the show’s format has changed: the first season stuck to a roughly thirty minute episode structure. The sixth episode of season three, in which Richmond’s football team travels to Amsterdam, clocks in at over an hour.
“That happened organically,” Hunt says. “It's a confluence of a few things. One, it’s streaming. I don't know if other shows have taken advantage of that as much and to the degree that we have, but [when you’re watching] there's not another show coming on next. There's not there's not a commercial break we have to hit.”
Second, Hunt says that Apple has been accommodating to their vision for the show, which has been a luxury they don’t take for granted. And finally, they know that people like the show – so much so that they can get away with playing with form.
“Hopefully, we don't overdo it. The reception to the Amsterdam episode indicates that we use the hour well. Will it be our last episode that goes over an hour? No, sir. Oh, you'll see.”
Another surprising, organic change from the first season is that Goldstein’s hard-headed Roy has become friends with the once-egotistical striker Jamie Tart.
“I don't know if we saw Jamie and Roy as ever becoming friends,” Hunt says when asked about which characters have changed the most from their original three-season vision. “We have certain mileposts that we know we're gonna hit along the way. But me and Jason and the OG creators, we're from an improv background where you just follow the good idea, and you can leave room for what other people bring to the table.
“What that means story wise is, if something develops, you just let it develop, you don't squelch it just because you didn't see it coming. Jamie's a marvellous example of that. Those scenes between [him and Roy] in episode six were some of the most fun scenes to write in the whole damn series.”
It’s not only been those on screen becoming friendly, either. Reflecting on the joys of working on the show, Hunt says he’s incredibly proud that all the writers from the first season have stuck around through the entire journey so far.
“And hanging out with this cast has been great,” he continues. “None of us had worked with anyone else in this cast before. And we were casting, even pre-Covid, all of the auditions they were submitting in the UK, we were watching in LA. We didn't know if they were all going to be dicks. And it turns out none of them are.
“We all love seeing each other. I'm here in London this week and I haven't seen anybody yet. I'm chomping at the bit to get hugs. Getting to know all these people, both on camera and off – I was going to say it’s double all the other pleasures but really all the other pleasures are double because of that.”
So, how’s the third and maybe, maybe not (probably not) season going to end? Yahoo UK posits that the previous two seasons have ended on bittersweet and wholesome notes.
“Those are two of the things we like to do,” Hunt says. “All I can say is that it was an ending that was executed with great care.”
Sounds about right for a series that continues to care for its characters and fans in equal measure.
Ted Lasso S3 is streaming on Apple TV+ with new episodes every Wednesday.