When Ted Lasso started airing in August 2020, it was the perfect show for a nation deep in pandemic doldrums. Sudeikis plays the relentlessly upbeat coach of AFC Richmond, a fictional English soccer team in suburban London. He’s been hired by the newly divorced owner (Hannah Waddingham, who won for best supporting actress) precisely because he’s clueless about the sport: He’d been a U.S. college football coach known for a celebratory dance on social media. She hopes he’ll drive Richmond into the ground so she can get revenge on her cheating ex, who loves the team. But Lasso wins over players, management, and fans with his folksy wisdom and persistent decency. “Living in the moment is a gift,” he says in Season 2, which began airing in July. “That’s why they call it the present.”
Sudeikis, who’s also an executive producer and writer, spent 10 years with Saturday Night Live, where he was best known for playing politicians (Joe Biden, Mitt Romney) and self-absorbed jerks. His turn as Lasso has produced Apple Inc.’s first breakout hit, which should drive traffic to its Apple TV+ service. The show has been renewed for a third season and sent other networks hunting for more uplifting fare.