Why would anyone hate Ted Lasso? | Arwa Mahdawi

The fish-out-of-water sports sitcom is about little more than a nice man being nice. Yet it has become a cultural lightning rod

I have a degree in English literature, which is to say I left university with no life skills apart from the ability to be pretentious at the drop of a hat. I can find meaning where there is none! I can explain ad nauseam why an innocuous doorknob in a Victorian poem symbolises aristocratic insecurities about settler-colonialism! It would make my day to do so!

I am not boasting about my doorknob-interpretation talents, by the way. I am just trying to fathom my befuddlement at the discourse around Ted Lasso, the Apple TV+ sitcom about a cheerful American coaching an English football team.

The thing about Ted Lasso – which has inspired a seemingly infinite number of think pieces since it first aired last August and has just won seven Emmys – is that I can’t find it in me to be too pretentious about it at all. It is a perfectly good sitcom. It is the sort of thing you can chuckle along to while scrolling on your phone. It is a nice show about a nice man being nice. It is fun to watch during a depressing pandemic. That is it. I have no deeper meaning to proffer.

Alas, I appear to be an outlier. Ted Lasso has become a cultural lightning rod. Some people seem to have turned hating it into a personality trait. Others have turned dissing people who diss Ted Lasso into a personality trait. Meanwhile, the show is being used to discuss everything from American decline to gender. It won a Peabody award for “offering the perfect counter to the enduring prevalence of toxic masculinity”. Are you kidding me? You can get an award simply for having a show featuring a nice man? This feels like a scam. I don’t think Ted himself would approve.

Uh oh, I feel my interpretation impulses kicking in. I had better stop now before I give you 2,000 words on how doorknobs in Ted Lasso reflect on-screen sexism. You’re welcome, in advance.

• Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist


Arwa Mahdawi

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