Ted Lasso is a touching sports comedy and drama that rocketed into popularity in 2020. Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), an American football coach, crosses the pond to coach a failing UK soccer team.
Why is Ted, who doesn’t know there’s such a thing as offsides in soccer, leading them?
Because the team’s manager (Hannah Waddingham) wants them to fail as an act of revenge against her ex-husband, the owner.
The premise is already comedic, but the charm of the show bubbles up from the protagonist’s unyielding optimism that faces down certain defeat with a cheesy mustachioed smile and an array of odd aphorisms like, “You beating yourself up is like Woody Allen playing the clarinet—I don’t want to hear it.”
Why did Ted Lasso win best comedy at the 2022 Emmys?
Ted wants the players to be their “best selves, on and off the field” and always rejoins negativity by packing his Kansas drawl with encouragement. He responds to the waft of a sweat-stained locker room with “Smells like potential!”
The show is like a “warm hug.” When the world seems to be falling apart at the seams, people crave something light, carefree, and stupidly optimistic.
The show’s excellent writing, acting, and direction all support a heartfelt vision. Ted Lasso was nominated for twenty Emmy Awards this year. Sudeikis won best lead actor in a comedy, while costar Brett Goldstein won best supporting actor. The show itself won “best comedy.”
Note: The show contains crass humor and frequent foul language. While upbeat, Ted Lasso is not for children.
The two sides of the Emmy Awards
Jim Denison, PhD, wrote on the egregious, sinful side of the Emmy awards. For example, he commented on the dark, hyper-sexualized teen show Euphoria, for which Zendaya won best drama actress.
Ted Lasso is different.
The show reveals our hunger for humor and the longing for something lighthearted. Calloused seriousness does not make for an admirable character trait; it typically reveals pride.
I’m not speaking judgmentally; I’m speaking from experience. I can be a pretty serious person, and guess what I struggle with?
Typically, I don’t pay attention to award shows. Monday night’s Emmy Awards were no different. But, they remain helpful to cultural commentators because they typically beat to the culture’s pulse. (Besides, they also always bring out good-spirited arguments of opinion).
The culture clearly desires rest from crises while at the same time being lost in darkness.
Why Christians should value lightheartedness
“The simplest things are often the best things” is a truism because it’s true. Lighthearted gaiety among family and friends surpasses almost any other common human experience. When feelings of deep joy, unassuming affection, and playful jabs float across the Thanksgiving table, we feel at home—at peace.
We should strive to take life seriously and intentionally but shouldn’t neglect humor and fun. Quite the opposite. We ought to take life and God seriously while notably not taking ourselves seriously.
We discussed this with Barnabas Piper on The Denison Forum Podcast. He put it aptly: “I don’t know that too many [young people] are going to want to listen to a forty-year-old guy who’s not self-deprecating and winsome in some way. . . . They have plenty of people who are fifteen or thirty years older than them ready to pompously yell at them.”
We’ve also brought in The Skit Guys to talk about the importance of humor.
We often miss humor in the Bible because we’re separated from the culture of its authors by thousands of years—but biblical humor exists.
Kindness is a gift of the Spirit
Light things bless people. Here’s a boring illustration with a spiritual payoff.
My to-do list fills up an entire notebook page this week, and I needed to return a rug that my wife and I received as a wedding gift. So, I prepared Amazon’s return QR code and walked into UPS with the box.
A simple task, right?
These things rarely are, so I felt weary in the cramped room.
A long line stretched in front of me, which I expected since it was just after working hours. I kept myself loose, calling on the Spirit to miraculously grow the fruit of patience in that moment.
Surprisingly, the line was quickly processed. A sharp-looking employee sped through people with an even tone, kind words, and efficient movements. He was gracious and polite, and my errand ran without a hitch, ahead of schedule.
He ended our brief, ten-second interaction with eye contact, a warm smile, and “God bless.”
The easy interaction made my spirit light as I walked to my car. I remember distinctly how strange it was that something so small could lift my soul. (Although it makes sense when you compare it to my earlier interactions with the soul-crushing, Kafka-esque nightmare of the USPS).
So, while our Christian faith is deep and complex, heavy and difficult, challenging and rewarding, remember that kindness is a spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22–26).
A courteous “God bless” doesn’t cover for sins, change the world, or present the gospel, and kindness is more than politeness. But lifting the spirits of strangers in small ways remains a part of our holy work as Christians.