Ted Lasso. Man—what an unlikely story. The character was initially dreamed up to serve a very different purpose. Sudeikis first played him in 2013, in a promo for NBC, which had recently acquired the television rights to the Premier League and was trying to inspire American interest in English football. The promo was the length and shape of an SNL sketch and featured a straightforward conceit: A hayseed football (our football) coach is hired as the football (their football) coach of a beloved English club, to teach a game he neither knows nor understands in a place he neither knows nor understands. The joke was simple and boiled down to the central fact that Ted Lasso was an amiable buffoon in short shorts.
But Sudeikis tries to listen to the universe, even in unlikely circumstances, and for whatever reason the character stuck around in his head. So, in time, Sudeikis developed and pitched a series with the same setup—Ted, in England, far from his family, a stranger in a strange land learning a strange game—that Apple eventually bought. But when we next saw Ted Lasso, he had changed. He wasn't loud or obnoxious anymore; he was simply…human. He was a man in the midst of a divorce who missed his son in America. The new version of Ted Lasso was still funny, but now in an earned kind of way, where the jokes he told and the jokes made at his expense spoke to the quality of the man. He had become an encourager, someone who thrills to the talents and dreams of others. He was still ignorant at times, but now he was curious too.