screencap from Ted Lasso season 3 episode 4 - Ted Lasso, Coach Beard, and Roy Kent all looking defeated and disturbed

‘Ted Lasso’ Has Gone Off the Rails

Ted Lasso used to be one of my favorite shows. Now I can barely make it through an episode. What happened? How has the series lost its way so catastrophically? Now that episode 8, “We’ll Never Have Paris,” has aired, here are my biggest gripes.

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The episodes in Ted Lasso season 3 are too damn long

In my initial review of Ted Lasso season 3, back when critics only had access to the first four episodes, my only problem was the longer runtime: 55 minutes instead of half an hour. Now that we’re two thirds of the way through the season, the episode lengths aren’t just a minor annoyance anymore. They’re the show’s death knell.

Seriously, you can almost hear the writers grinding their teeth as they struggle to fill up the yawning voids of time in each episode. There’s the excruciating pillow fight plot in the Amsterdam episode, in which the Richmond players endlessly debate where to go out before just wrecking up some hotel property. There’s Nate’s quotidian love story with his bland-as-hell girlfriend, and Rebecca getting a good foot rub in a houseboat. There’s episode 8’s eye-glazing slog of the players lecturing each other on proper digital hygiene.

These episodes just drag on and on. What could have been punchy, fast-paced plotlines are instead rendered treacly and boring.

The stakes in Ted Lasso are gone

Seasons 1 and 2 of Ted Lasso each had a main plot to drive the story and maintain tension among the characters. In season 1, the team tried to avoid relegation, Ted tried to prove himself as a coach, and Rebecca secretly tried to take them all down. In season 2, the team tried to claw their way back into the premier league while Ted ran from his traumatic past.

Now, all that tension is gone. Ted’s season 1 promise to “win the whole fucking thing” now feels more like a formula than a goal. Zava briefly complicated things before he abruptly disappeared. Ted’s total football strategy seems to be working, but aside from Richmond winning a game in the first scene of episode 8, it’s not mentioned at all. No one on the show seems to give a shit about anything anymore. They just have pillow fights and go out on soporific dates.

Every conflict in the season is resolved as hastily as possible, usually accompanied by soothing acoustic guitar music. Trent Crimm comes out to Colin, and that’s that forever. Sam’s feud with a racist politician disappears within one episode. Now that’s Zava’s gone, there’s no reason for Roy to give Jamie extra training. It turns out Keeley’s girfriend is a jerk, but she was never interesting anyway. Oh, and remember Shandy? I guess we’ve seen the last of Shandy.

The problem reaches a breaking point in episode 8. Ted decides to hire a private investigator to follow Michelle and Jake to Paris, and for a few brief, precious moments, my interest was piqued. My own parents went through an extremely ugly divorce, so when I saw Ted start to ask Henry the kinds of probing questions I was subjected to as a kid, I braced myself for a messy, gripping storyline.

But no—Rebecca talks Ted out of his idea while Beard painstakingly explains to the audience why the writers chose to play “Hey Jude” over Henry’s pub scene. (This scene might also be a symptom of the longer episodes. A song that could have been a subtle thematic choice is instead spoonfed to us over the course of six agonizing minutes.)

It feels like every episode is trying to be a miniature, self-contained Hallmark movie. The end of each episode doesn’t feel satisfying—it just feels like air being let out of a balloon.

It sucks that this is happening to one of my favorite shows

What will happen at the end of Ted Lasso season 3? I predict that Richmond will win the championship, Rebecca will get the family she wants, and Ted will go home to Kansas. Big whoop. I don’t care anymore.

I remember when AFC Richmond winning the championship would have made my day. Before Ted Lasso, I never cared about sports or sports-related media, but the show was so good that I was riveted. There are still four episodes left in season 3, so I’m crossing my fingers that they turn things around. Otherwise, I’ll have to watch a show I love go out with a whimper.

(featured image: Apple TV+)


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Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>