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The Lasso Lesson
The space between gezellig and winning the whole thing
** Contains spoilers **
Like millions of people around the world, I sat down today and eagerly watched the finale of Apple's hit TV show, Ted Lasso. Let the record show this was the only time since university I've committed to viewing each episode as it came out. As the credits rolled and ended the predictable wrap-up sequence, it occurred to me that the show's point was not limited to the need to be gracious, optimistic, or vulnerable in difficult situations. Ted Lasso is giving us permission to fail, and to do so publicly.
All three seasons were snapshots of what happens between failures. Take Ted's marriage, for example. It crumbled, and that opened the door for him to really deal with and recognise the weight of his childhood trauma on his present-day decisions, actions, and role as a father. Ted navigated panic attacks and emerged as a spokesperson for therapy and calling things out as they happened.
To anyone cringing as the team played from one humiliating loss to another, Ted repeatedly failed as a coach until he eventually got something right. He built on micro achievements that were peppered across each episode. That wasn't a fluke; he had a luxury that few professionals have: the safety of trying again after detrimental losses in a supportive environment.
Rebecca's failure to destroy the club and exact revenge on her ex-husband turned into a triumph as she overcame her anger, embraced her true self, and demonstrated power driven by grace and humility. Her failure's failure is our success.
Nate was terrified of failing and living, seemingly for the entirety of his existence. He sheepishly settled into his role as kit man until Ted recognised the fear and shaped it into something wunder-ful. But Nate also misjudged the size of his confidence as well as his commitment to integrity. He failed at West Ham but won himself back in the end.
Roy, Jamie, Keeley, Higgins, and Beard are examples of the type of people who move through sizeable failures and wins onto the next thing, with less fear each time.
Take the show as a whole. It is as saccharine as some critics assert and regularly flirts with toxic positivity. The final season's characters spoke less like people and more as inspirational poster copy (although in the age of stylised Instagram quotes passed around as wisdom currency, who can blame the writers?) But what the series intentionally did was to markedly show how failure and growth coexist in the same breath, uncomfortably intertwined. We adored the strong, tall leader who oscillated between enviable independence and crushing loneliness. We applauded a woman owning her sexuality, flaunting it, and not succumbing to its uncontrollable weaponisation. We welcomed unresolved love matches. Heck, we even delighted in the happiness of a demonstratively toxic couple.
We needed that show when it came out, and we still do. We want flaws and attempts at redemption. We want politeness and nicety for the sake of being nice. But above all that, we want safety and permission to fail spectacularly and then learn and grow in the hopes of perhaps "winning the whole f*ing thing," whatever that is.
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