“I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad—and that is being alone and being sad.”
I didn’t see it coming.
I thought I knew the playbook Ted Lasso was using. I’ve seen a lot of sports movies. I’ve also seen a lot of comedies that look at the world through the rose-colored glasses Ted always seems to have on. So, despite the fact that I should have known AFC Richmond needed to lose in the Season One finale to secure a second season for the show, I genuinely believed they would do what all underdogs do in these kinds of stories—shock the world (and comfort the audience) with a win.
I thought everyone loved the first season of this show because it gave them a happy ending at a time when so many of us could use one.
I was wrong.
Ted Lasso isn’t a show about what it means to be happy. That’s not why people love it.
It’s a show about how we deal with sadness.
And that’s why people need it.
Everyone on this show experiences sadness—and not just because Richmond loses in the end. Rebecca’s divorce, Roy’s injury, Keeley’s issues with Jamie, Jamie’s issues with his father, and Ted’s own marital struggles—they all highlight an important fact about being human:
In the words of another brilliant recent comedy that had a lot to say about how we handle hard times, “We’re all a little bit sad, all the time. That’s just the deal.”
Sadness is part of the deal. It comes with the territory. When you feel and care and love, there are going to be sad moments. So much of Ted Lasso’s appeal—especially in this last year—is in the way it acknowledges that sadness and setbacks are a part of life. And sometimes we can’t make it better, for ourselves or the people we love.
For a show that’s been praised for its positive outlook, Ted Lasso’s positivity is never toxic. It’s not a show that says, “Don’t be sad! If we all help each other, everything will turn out fine in the end!” Instead it’s a show that says, “Sometimes life is sad and things don’t turn out fine, but if we help each other, at least we won’t have to be sad alone.”
For all his optimism and openness and belief in the power of teamwork, Ted knows what it means to be alone and be sad. We watch him struggle with his crumbling marriage on his own and we see how his belief that growth matters more than wins can isolate him from even those closest to him. But then, there are the moments when someone sees him and reaches out—when Roy stops him from walking into traffic or when Rebecca gently eases him through his panic attack. It’s in those moments that the sadness feels a little less overwhelming and the loneliness fades a little. Because when we’re seen, when we lift our head up and meet the eyes of someone who cares, it doesn’t magically fix what’s broken in our lives, but it makes it a little easier to live with the broken pieces.
That’s what having a team is all about. They’re not just the people who celebrate the good times with you; they’re the people who see you and sit with you in the hard times too.