There’s an exercise where you take an abstract scribble and transform it into a fully formed drawing. It’s hard not to think of that exercise when watching the Apple TV+ dramedy Ted Lasso.
The show, or at least its characters, started life as a series of NBC Sports promos starring Jason Sudekis, but those were mere abstract shapes compared to the fleshed out thing that they’ve evolved into.
Among the digerati, I’ve read more than once comments like these from Jason Kottke:
It’s ok if you don’t care for sports. It’s not about sports.
Assuming it was about sports kept me from watching it initially; when I finally succumbed I realized that, indeed, it’s not about sports, at least not in the sense that you have to be sporty to enjoy it. Which I do.
In this vein it’s not unlike Sports Night, the venerable Aaron Sorkin/Thomas Schlamme creation, from which the absence of a laugh track earned a New Yorker profile before it even debuted. Author Tad Friend wrote there:
The subject of sports isn’t particularly suited to a TV series, but likeable characters who like sports are.
The characters of Ted Lasso are exceedingly likeable, especially Sudekis, who, with his costar Brendan Hunt and two others, created the show. The original Ted Lasso, from the NBC Sports days, was all thinly drawn goofy parody; the Ted Lasso in the series is that, plus backstory, plus heart, plus metaphysics. He is the coach we all wished we once had.
This success of transforming a sketch into a work of art makes me think I should option the series rights for those old Peter Pan commercials.