2019 was an amazing year for nerd television. It had the debut of The Mandalorian and The Boys, as well as all-new series of The Dark Crystal and Watchmen. Could 2020 match up to such an incredible year? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t fantastic shows. As for me, one series stood out as the best TV show of 2020: Ted Lasso.
For the uninitiated, Ted Lasso is a sitcom about an American football coach that goes to England to coach real football. It was based on a pair of NBC Sports sketches starring Jason Sudeikis. Bill Lawrence (Scrubs), Sudeikis, Joe Kelly, and Brendan Hunt made some significant changes to the character and created something magical. Not only was Ted Lasso the best TV show of 2020 for me, it was also one of the biggest surprises of the year. Here’s why.
In the original sketch above, Ted Lasso is a brash and obnoxious American (or as the rest of the world calls us, American). Sketch Ted was great in small doses, but the showrunners knew that he couldn’t work for a full series. Instead, they made TV Ted a little bit smarter and much, much kinder. The result was a lovable character that, as Trent Crimm from The Independent wrote, you can’t help but root for.
As a soccer nerd and a Sudeikis fan, I fully expected Ted Lasso to be funny. What I wasn’t expecting was a show with a great deal of heart, several nuanced characters, and a surprising amount of football authenticity.
Let’s go in reverse order. The show’s fictitious team, AFC Richmond, is a stand-in for real-world team Crystal Palace. Richmond’s kits look the same and the team’s home games were filmed at Sellhurst Park, Crystal Palace’s home ground.
There are football jokes sprinkled throughout the episodes, with my favorite one being when Richmond’s director of football operations rattled off the names of managers vying for Lasso’s job. He ended it with, “Harry Redknapp called three times!” If you know Redknapp’s coaching history, that was f*cking hilarious.
As for the nuanced characters, the leads and supporting characters all had layers to them. You expect that from the main characters, but it was impressive how much detail was given to the supporting characters. Take the aforementioned football director Higgins, for example. It would’ve been easy to simply let him be the fool, but the writers made him much more; Higgins was conflicted about his role in the owner’s plan, displayed a deep love for his family, and showed off some truly groovy skills on the double bass. So many of the show’s characters were given comparable layers that made them feel alive and unique. Kudos to the writers.
Speaking of which, the most shocking aspect of the show was how much heart the writers gave it. I don’t want to spoil things because Ted Lasso is absolutely worth experiencing fresh, but I was not prepared for the show’s emotional and heartfelt moments. There were many scenes that were incredibly touching and genuinely moving. Those moments were what made Ted Lasso truly magical.
With its tremendous blend of comedy and heart, Ted Lasso was my best TV show of 2020. Football is life.
As for the second-best TV show of 2020, I’m going for season 2 of The Mandolorian. For many people, the Boba Fett episode was the most thrilling bit of television of 2020. I loved that one, but as a fan of Clone Wars and a huge fan of Rebels, the Ahsoka episode made me geek out like nothing else.
Now it’s your turn! What was your best TV show of 2020? Shout it out in the comments section (please)! If you have a chance, maybe a bunch of us can get together and have a watch party.