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How ‘Ted Lasso’ Got Its Amsterdam Episode So Right, According to an Actual Dutch Person

The world-famous skinny bridge in Amsterdam in Ted Lasso season 3 episode 6

When I heard Ted Lasso was headed to Amsterdam, my first thought was “Gross, they must be playing a match against AFC Ajax.” For context, Ajax is my team’s arch-nemesis. Anyone who follows the Eredivisie–the Dutch version of the Premiere League–will likely know from that which club I support. And while AFC Richmond did play against Ajax, and the match ended with the home team winning 5-0 (again, ew), on the whole, that didn’t matter. Because this episode of Ted Lasso, “Sunflowers”, was a love letter to Amsterdam.

I’m not even originally from Amsterdam, though I did live there for several months while doing an internship, and everything in this episode moved me. Brendan Hunt and the rest of the Ted Lasso writing team managed to make me feel homesick for a city that wasn’t ever truly mine.

I heard my native language spoken, and I got to see Jan Maas in his natural habitat, roasting his friends for being obnoxious tourists. Colin and Trent bonded at one of Amsterdam’s most impactful monuments; Roy Kent learned how to ride a bicycle in a city that is famous for them while Rebecca got chucked into a canal because of them too. Ted Lasso fans who have never been to Amsterdam have hopefully learned that there is more to the Red Light District than just sex and drugs (thank you Higgins and Will), and Ted learned about Vincent van Gogh in a scene that paralleled Doctor Who’s van Gogh episode in the most deliciously devastating way possible. I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Except, somehow, I did get more! Jamie Tartt, a character who has managed to burrow his way into my heart, loves the city for its beauty, for its “stroopwafels” (I’m choosing to ignore how he pronounced that word), and for the memories he made there with his mum, and now, undoubtedly, with Roy. Amsterdam, of all places, showed these Ted Lasso characters whom I adore so much how to live again, how to enjoy themselves and each other and forget about the stink of failure, even if only for a moment. They’re freer, lighter, and ready for the rest of the season, and now, so am I.

While an episode of Ted Lasso set in Amsterdam was, perhaps, inevitable, given the show’s history, there’s no questioning its importance to these characters and Ted Lasso‘s overarching themes. While staying in Amsterdam during the early 2000s, Brendan Hunt, Jason Sudeikis, and Joe Kelly, though originally skeptical of the sport, all fell in love with Amsterdam’s love of football (this may be an American website but I refuse to call it soccer).

Sudeikis has previously stated that he and Hunt would play FIFA–a football video game–after their performances with the improvisational comedy troupe Boom Chicago while in Amsterdam to “cultivate” their interest in the sport (via Los Angeles Times). Despite the Ted Lasso character only becoming a thing much later, in 2013, when he featured in a viral NBC sports promo (and another a year after that), the character’s reason for being was born in Amsterdam. There is no Ted Lasso without this city.

Another 10 years later, and here we are. The trio’s love of Amsterdam seeps through every frame of this episode, and while jokes are made at the expense of the Dutch—I need Richard to eat a “bitterbal” and report back ASAP—it never feels malicious. These are jokes we Dutch make about ourselves, too.

I guess the best compliment I can give this episode of Ted Lasso is that it made me miss home. This is especially impressive considering that the rest of Ted Lasso takes place in an area of London I know by heart. I went to school for my Master’s in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames; I’ve studied at that café Keeley visits in Ted Lasso season 2, I’ve spent sunny days lounging around at Richmond Green, and I went to AFC Richmond’s favorite pub before Ted Lasso ever premiered. (Fun fact: it’s not actually called the Crown & Anchor.)

And while it’s always a joy to see Ted Lasso feature another one of my favorite old Richmond haunts, “Sunflowers” left me feeling much like Ted in this episode. A little homesick and so desperate for some familiar food he went to a dodgy American restaurant with a 2.7/5-star rating. I’m now tempted to see if there are any Dutch cafés near me, somewhere I can scarf down a “pannenkoek” in peace and watch a Dutch football match live on TV. I want to call my family so that I can have a proper conversation in Dutch, leaving the English language behind me for just a moment until it’s time to start writing again.

If I could choose one word to describe this episode, it would be “gezellig,” a word perhaps over-used in “Sunflowers” but oh so eloquently defined. It is a word that can capture every kind of contentment a person might be feeling, whether that comes from joy, fun, familiarity, comfort, or coziness. This episode of Ted Lasso made me feel it all. I’ll be watching it again tomorrow, and then again with my parents when they next come to visit, and probably a dozen more times after that. “Sunflowers” might just be my favorite episode of Ted Lasso yet, and that says it all, really.

There’s only one more thing I need to know: did someone buy Dani a single tulip?

Ed. note: A previous version of this article stated that the series was conceived in Amsterdam, per the LA Times. It has since been corrected.

(featured image: Apple TV+)

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El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she successfully completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including franchises like Marvel and Pokémon, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.