In August of 2020, the perfect show came along at the perfect time. After nearly a year in lockdown, we all needed a big dose of positivity and it came in the form of Ted Lasso on AppleTV. For many, watching Ted Lasso became a type of self-care. Groundbreaking in its overwhelming optimism, the first season of the show hit all the right notes. Rightfully so, it cleaned up at this years Emmys, and the cast earned a huge raise for season 3.
Season 2 of Ted Lasso has much of the same positivity and charm as season 1, but with an added wrinkle. Enter Dr. Sharon. We meet Dr. Sharon Fieldstone in the 1st episode of the 2nd season and we can tell immediately that she’s going to be a foil to Ted’s overwhelming positivity. Dr. Sharon helps many of the players early on in the season, especially Dani after his incident with the dog, and Colin who is “not a piece of shit”. But it is her relationship with Ted that is the most interesting.
At times during season 1 we could catch a glimpse of the anxiety that Ted dealt with silently. In some ways, his over-the-top optimism and exuberant personality were a cover for some internal struggles. Knowing that there was more to Ted than just energy and enthusiasm 24/7 didn’t make me like him less, it made me like him more. None of us have our shit together all the time, I’m skeptical of anyone that acts as though they do.
In season 2 we get a better glimpse of Ted’s internal state. Under the added pressure of his team’s performance, paired with the struggles of being separated from his family, Ted’s anxiety reaches a boiling point. In the 7th episode of season 2 “Headspace” we see Ted forced to leave the pitch because of a panic attack similar to the infamous episode in season 1. We’re not sure what happens to Ted until he turns up in Dr. Sharon’s office admitting that he needs to talk.
While Ted Lasso the show might be damn near perfect, its people aren’t. Ted, Nate, Rebecca, Roy, Keeley, Beard, Jamie, Colin, Dani, and Isaac: they all have issues. Even Dr. Sharon herself. Everyone except Higgins, he’s mostly got his shit together. The rest need help in some form or fashion. Where season 1 was all about self-help with great quotes like “I believe in believe.” and “Be a goldfish” (because of its 10-second memory). Season 2 shows us that it’s ok to seek help.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsions, post-traumatic stress, or a case of the damn yips, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Nowadays even the best athletes on the planet visit therapists regularly. Roy Keane himself (the former Manchester United midfielder who inspired Ted Lasso’s “Roy Kent”) admitted during a recent interview that he spoke with a therapist when he was playing. But it doesn’t matter if you’re a professional athlete or just a normal dad like me, if you need help working through something there’s no shame in it.
At the end of episode 8 after the Man City game at Wembley Stadium Ted calls Dr. Sharon and we finally learn the big thing that Ted has kept bottled up. Its the first real insight we get into what makes Ted who he is. No spoilers, but when he revealed what he did to Dr. Sharon I immediately thought back to one of the best scenes in season 1, when he plays darts with Rupert. Now everything is starting to make more sense.
Like Dr. Sharon says “the truth will set you free, but first it’s gonna piss you off.” There’s a lot of reluctance around therapy. People have a lot of notions about how therapy works, and most of those notions are wrong. It is not a weakness to get help, in fact, it takes a lot more strength to make that admission and take that first step. If Ted Lasso can admit he needs help some time, then so can I. Our kids need us at our best and sometimes that means we need to tackle our issues Ted Lasso style. “Bird by bird” as he would say. Barbeque sauce.