Created by Sudeikis with a colleague Saturday Night Live writer Joe Kelly and actor Brendan Hunt, this version of Ted Lasso was a self-conscious jerk. In the 2014 follow-up ad, he’s a jester whose naive idiocy and childlike excitement crushes live TV shows. Comedy comes from the combination of unwavering self-confidence, ineptitude, and certain failure.
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Not that Ted let himself be overwhelmed by failure. Although he only lasted six hours at “The Spurs”, he cherished his time in England and decorated his American apartment with an English theme (including an Easter Egg appearance from an LP of the famous English punk band Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros, whose lead singer bears a striking resemblance to SNLis Fred Armisen.)
As the NBC Sports commercials laid out the basic premise of what would become the Apple TV + series Ted lasso, major changes have been made. The series has dropped its Christopher Guest /Office mock documentary format, and Ted’s character went from being a moron for sure to an optimist who might just work. In the commercials, Ted’s ignorance and Homer Simpson’s jokes angered people around him. In the show, her sunshine kindness lifts them up. The commercials asked viewers to laugh at a yoke that got it wrong without knowing how desperate it was. The show asks viewers to seek out a smoother way of doing things.
The idea of moving Ted Lasso from the character of a sketch to that of the leader of the sitcom was suggested in 2015 by Olivia Wilde, the partner of Jason Sudeikis, the actress-director at the time. Sudeikis, Kelly and Hunt wrote a pilot and preview for the series, before bringing in producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town), who emphasized the need to make the character vulnerable.
Although played for a laugh, there was a glimpse of vulnerability in the 2013 NBC Sports commercial. Lasso’s upbeat definition of his new club nickname – “wanker” – plays on a montage of him training with the team. “I think it just means ‘awesome’ like a nice guy, a good heart, someone who listens, someone who will push you!” he says. A clip of him standing solo on the pitch, clearly unpopular, plays as he continues. “A wanker is someone who doesn’t mind being alone, likes to sit with their thoughts.” It’s a poignant brief glimpse of things to come.