When you ask Jason Sudeikis a question, you have to be prepared for a non sequitur. Take, for instance, when TVLine probes the Ted Lasso star about his character’s emotional wellbeing at the start of Season 3.
“I love the Tonys for a number of reasons,” Sudeikis begins, seemingly at random in the video above. “I love theater, I love Broadway… I was lucky to grow up with a mom who took me and my sisters to go see stuff all the time.
“One of my favorite things about the Tonys are the live performances,” he says. His other favorite thing — and we swear he’s getting somewhere with this — is “how often people get up there, men and women, fathers and mothers, and thank their kids for being okay with Mom and Dad leaving to go make their 6:30 pm call time,” which, as he points out, is around the time that most parents return home from work. “They thank their children for giving them the opportunity to do something that they truly, truly love, and for their understanding and their patience. I think Ted is going through that experience. He is thankful to his son.”
He’s referring to Ted’s internal conflict in Wednesday’s premiere. After seeing Henry off at the airport, Coach Lasso hops on the phone for his weekly appointment with Dr. Sharon Fieldstone. During their call, he expresses doubt about what he’s still doing in London when his son lives more than 4,000 miles away. It’s ultimately Henry who reminds him that he’s there to “win the whole thing.” And even if winning isn’t everything, he at least has to try.
The pressure, meanwhile, has never been higher. Newly promoted AFC Richmond is expected to finish the Premier League season in 20th place — or, to put it another way, well behind Coach Nathan Shelley and West Ham United. This doesn’t sit well with AFC Richmond owner Rebecca, who refuses to let herself be humiliated by her ex-husband (and West Ham’s new owner) Rupert. She pleads with Ted to get his head in the game and prove all the pundits — and Rupert — wrong.
“It’s easy to move on when that person isn’t in your face all the time,” Sudeikis posits on behalf of Rebecca. “This season, Rupert is right there, as an adversary… and here’s Ted, this character who proudly, if not even brazenly, said in the third episode of Season 1 that winning and losing doesn’t matter, and she’s like, ‘Oh, no, it does….’ Does that make Ted and Rebecca’s relationship adversarial? Or does it just show two sides of a similar coin in our relationship, with winning and losing? Who you do it for, and for what reason, can bring about a certain level of conflict between two characters that clearly have an affinity and an affection and were, in my opinion, divinely brought together.”
And then there’s Nate — aka the “Wonder Kid” — who trash-talks Ted and his former football club during his first press conference as West Ham’s head coach and drives everyone mad… everyone except for Ted, who still believes Richmond’s former kit man can redeem himself.
“I think Ted is cautiously optimistic,” Sudeikis says. “I don’t even know if ‘cautiously’ is the right adverb, you know? I think he’s just inherently optimistic… He allows people space to grow or die. I mean that metaphorically, of course, but I don’t think Ted’s mad, or as mad at Nate, as other people at Richmond. Certainly not [as mad as] people that are fans of this show.
“What Nate did, at least in regards to the betrayal of sharing [Ted’s] panic attack, was relieve that burden of the secret, the shame, and made Ted deal with it,” the co-creator explains. “Much like the way Ted felt about Rebecca hiring him to fail in Season 1, it helped change his life and gave him perspective.”
As for whether Nate has what it takes to cut it as West Ham’s shot caller remains to be seen. Although the power that comes with the job has already gone to his head, Coach Shelley still feels awfully small when he first sits before the press. He suffers a panic attack, not unlike Ted — but does Nate make the connection when he’s crouched behind his podium?
“I think the audience is led to draw that parallel themselves if they choose to,” portrayer Nick Mohammed tells TVLine. “But whether Nate recognizes that himself, whether it allows him to sympathize and empathize with what Ted is going through when he goes through a panic attack, I don’t know. But there is certainly a parallel there, and Nate is clearly struggling in his new role right from the off.”
Watch our full Q&A with Sudeikis and Mohammed above, then grade the season opener in our poll. (For additional coverage on the Roy/Keeley twist, click here.)