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Ted Lasso Dives Headfirst Into All the Worst Mental Health Stigmas in Order To Come Out Stronger

Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, outside, looking to the side, smiling

**Spoilers for the season finale of Ted Lasso**

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This week’s season finale of Ted Lasso saw Ted finally opening up to his team about his mental health struggles. Thanks to an exposé from Trent Crimm, (now formerly of) The Independent, the team (and everyone else in town) already knows about Ted’s panic attacks, and that he had one during a game. But Ted’s decision to tell them is less about sharing the actual information than it is an act of trust and honest communication.

Wonderful humans that they are, the team responds with love and understanding. Ted has an incredible support system at the club—one that, for much of season two, included professional support as well. With the obvious exception of Nate, who weaponized Ted’s mental health issues because of his own jealousy and insecurities, the community Ted has cultivated at AFC Richmond is the kind of space that facilitates honesty, growth, and healing.

And then there’s the rest of the world. We as a society are chipping away at the stigma surrounding mental health issues every day, but it still exists. And things are made even worse for Ted by the fact that he’s going through this very public struggle in England, land of the “stiff upper lip” and “keep calm and carry on.”

In addition to the horrible headlines in every newspaper, he has to deal with old men bashing him on television and even to his face. These men tell him that he’s weak and should feel ashamed, that they and older generations were made of stronger stuff. Of course, Ted, who has opened up this season about his father’s suicide, knows as well as anyone what can happen when those older men try to ignore their feelings.

“If my father had a panic attack at Normandy, we’d all be speaking German,” says one older man whose generation basically invented the mid-life crisis, speaking about another generation that overwhelmingly experienced PTSD. Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks aren’t new. But the reactions of these tabloid writers, sports commentators, and randos on the street who feel entitled to share their rude opinions show that we still have a ways to go in breaking down the judgmental ignorance that still surrounds these issues.

Season two of Ted Lasso wrapped filming in early June, just a few weeks after tennis star Naomi Osaka announced she would be prioritizing her mental health by not participating in press conferences at the French Open. She faced backlash very similar to what we saw Ted experience, being mocked by strangers on Twitter and pundits on television. Just a few days before Ted Lasso ended production, Osaka withdrew from the tournament entirely.

It’s unlikely that anything in the show was meant to mirror this real-life public discourse happening in the final days and weeks of filming, since we know Sudeikis and team have had their three-season arc planned out from the start. That one of the finale’s last scenes, with Ted telling the press not just about his own struggles with anxiety but about his “overall concern about the way we discuss and deal with mental health in athletics,” so closely mirrors the conversation we were having publicly at the time, was likely just a coincidence.

That this same conversation was playing out simultaneously in real life and in one of the year’s most popular television shows, only highlights just how important these issues are, and how urgently we need to address them head-on. While a lot of people had mixed feelings about this season of Ted Lasso, the work it’s doing to normalize mental health care and to push these conversations to the forefront of our collective attention cannot be understated.

(image: Apple TV+)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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