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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Allure of Gentle Strength: Ted Lasso and the Fantasy of Soft Masculinity

When the credits for “Ted Lasso” roll, they don’t pull any punches. As Ted, the protagonist, makes his way down an empty stadium row, the seats surrounding him begin to shift hues in response to his presence. Depending on your mood, its obviousness will make you find it endearingly adorable or tediously sugary.

Season three of “Ted Lasso,” which is said to be the last, is not known for its subtlety. The show centres on Ted, an American football coach who moves to England to lead the AFC Richmond, a made-up side in the Premier League. Jason Sudeikis, a co-creator of the show, plays Ted, and his performance is a perfect balance of goofiness and sadness.

From the very beginning, the show “Ted Lasso” made its ideals clear, nearly usually via lengthy monologues, and always by contrasting Ted’s sincerity with the prevailing cynicism of his environment. In an early episode, Ted says, “Success is not about the wins and losses for me.” As one coach put it, “It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the pitch.” Trent Crimm, a sarcastic journalist, retorts that Ted is being “irresponsible.”

Many of the male protagonists in media depicting sports are damaged individuals for whom athletics serve as a metaphorical “arena of redemption” and “thing that will put them back together.” In the 2001 film “Remember the Titans,” football is used to bring together people of different races, while in the 2003 film “Friday Night Lights,” young men gain strength, confidence, and the admiration of their peers as they work to earn every yard on the football field.

But “Lasso” promises something new; while we usually see males fight for connection, this world seems to anticipate a more sensitive arrangement. The guys of “Lasso” may attempt to shut out the world and wallow in their woes, but their support system of other males will eventually show up and do whatever is necessary to assist. The programme “Lasso” thrives on its gentle nature.

But this is all made up. In the actual world, young men are frequently encouraged to show their fortitude by bearing their pain in quiet. In the actual world, toxic individuals who mock feeling emotions have a sizable following. A 19-year-old offensive lineman named Jordan McNair really passed away from heatstroke in 2018. After a University of Maryland team practise, he passed out. According to an ESPN story, the club has a culture of “fear and humiliation” that makes it taboo to acknowledge to even minor signs of fatigue or hunger. However, in “Lasso,” the fantastic elements are more prominent. Instead of focusing on external success as a means to solving internal issues, “Lasso” advocates doing the opposite.

Trent learns a juicy truth that would make headlines if it were published, but he keeps it to himself since it’s not his business to spill the beans. The captain of AFC Richmond, Isaac McAdoo, is unhappy that his homosexual teammate didn’t trust him enough to inform him, so he ices him out for days after finding out the news. By the conclusion of the third season, Roy Kent, the gruff ex-player-turned-coach, is instructing other guys on how to handle overwhelming emotions in a healthy way.

While Ted may find it natural to be upbeat and genuine all the time, it is abundantly obvious in “Lasso” that such an attitude comes at a price. Season 2 focuses on Ted’s growing scepticism of treatment, which is justified towards the conclusion of the season. He usually has his beverages by himself. He endures panic episodes but avoids investigating why they are happening more often. The show is always adjusting whether Ted is too optimistic, but his upbeat attitude is contagious. The reason his marriage failed is revealed. Ted has been avoiding discussing his grief over his father’s death, as we find out. He’s not a wise old man, but a guy doing the best he can, who gives advice sometimes and ignores it other times.

There is an intricate assertion at the heart of the “Lasso” fantasy: people may act villainously, yet there are no actual villains. Despite being portrayed as abusive at the beginning of the series, top player Jamie Tartt’s father checks himself into treatment in the second-to-last episode of the third season and is finally able to show his son that he loves him. Ted’s former locker room aide turned coach turned foe Nate Shelley spends the whole of the last season questioning Ted’s heel flip.

A Peabody was given to “Ted Lasso” in 2021. In a time when the country needs inspiring examples of compassion, the series “offers the perfect counter to the enduring prevalence of toxic masculinity, both on-screen and off,” as stated in the citation.

The biggest achievement of “Ted Lasso,” if this is actually its last season, is that it has made an alternate, gentle masculinity appear conceivable and worth pursuing, even if it remains a fiction.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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