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A New Season Begins For The Much-Loved Sitcom 'Ted Lasso'

NOEL KING, HOST:

"Ted Lasso" is a sitcom about a college football coach from Kansas City who gets hired to coach a British soccer team. He is optimistic and earnest.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

JASON SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) I want you to be grateful that you're going through this sad moment with all these other folks because, I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad, and that is being alone and being sad.

KING: The show's nominated for 20 Emmy Awards, including outstanding comedy series, which seems like a lot of nominations, and, in fact, it is. The first episode of Season 2 premieres, today. And with me now to talk about it is Aisha Harris, a co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. Hey, Aisha.

AISHA HARRIS, BYLINE: Hi.

KING: I have not seen "Ted Lasso." I don't have Apple TV+. I have so many streaming services; I'm not sure if it's worth it. What's the deal with this show?

HARRIS: It is very optimistic. It's a fish-out-of-water story in which most of the laughs are - for the first season, specifically are about the contrast between American football versus every other country's version of football, which we call soccer. And it also contrasts between Ted Lasso's sort of enduring and oftentimes baffling optimism against his team and colleagues' cynicism and their defeated-ness, and it also, of course, is a workplace comedy ensemble show that highlights a lot of varying dynamics, including players' egos clashing. Ted and his boss, the team's owner, Rebecca - who's played by Hannah Waddingham - have a sort of Mary Richards-Lou Grant dynamic going on there. And so there's a lot of things for people to latch on to and really enjoy.

KING: OK, Mary Richards and Lou Grant is a real throwback.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

KING: Those are characters that, if you've seen them, you absolutely remember them. Does this really have that kind of great character development?

HARRIS: I think it really does. Of course, in the first season, all the characters are sort of establishing themselves. But as the season goes on, you really get to see that these are more than just tropes, more than just characters. Because the show is so much about people learning to live and work alongside each other, we really get a sense of how these disparate personalities can all work cohesively together. And so seeing all of those dynamics, I think, really makes this show worth a watch. I also think - I myself am not someone who follows sports at all, but the way it's written, the general public can really just enjoy the show. There's a lot of pop culture references.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) People say cuss words when they don't know the right ones to use to express themselves. All right? Except Bernie Mac. You know, he uses them like Van Gogh uses yellow - you know, effectively.

HARRIS: Yeah...

KING: I was not expecting that (laughter).

HARRIS: Yes, there's so many great lines like that. And, you know, I liken it to something like "Friday Night Lights," which is another very heartfelt show. You don't have to know about football. You can just enjoy these characters. It's about the characters and their love of the game but also their love for and appreciation of one another.

KING: OK, let me ask you a high-stakes question. Should I hop to and get an Apple+ TV account and watch "Ted Lasso"? Is it worth it?

HARRIS: I think it's absolutely worth it. I promise I'm not a shill for Apple.

KING: (Laughter).

HARRIS: I just think it's one of those shows that will make people really, really happy. And, you know, without spoiling it, I think that there are some things that are going to reveal Ted to be maybe not as cheery as we think he is. But at his core, he is still a good person. And I think people will really, really enjoy it.

KING: OK, you've got me interested. Thanks, Aisha.

HARRIS: Thank you.

KING: Aisha Harris is a co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TED LASSO THEME")

MARCUS MUMFORD AND TOM HOWE: (Singing) Yeah, it might be all that you get. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.