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What Ted Lasso Implies About the Future of TV Comedy

Content Warning: This article will contain spoilers about the show Ted Lasso. Consider this your sign to watch the whole thing if you haven’t already.

Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso has everybody watching, and it’s no surprise as to why. This shockingly refreshing show reminds us what it means to be human and forgive ourselves for it. As a writer preparing to go into television, I can’t help but study Ted Lasso and its implications for the future of TV comedies.

Title reading \"The Good Place\"
Krysten Sliwinski

The history

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a new trend surrounding sitcoms. More and more, sitcoms have been taking on serious themes in their episodes. I saw it first on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Now and then, this show would have an episode that addressed racial profiling, biphobia, or even the whole final season, which primarily focused on the issues in the police system. The problem was that the show wasn’t built with drama in mind — it was a sitcom, through and through. So, when these serious subjects took the screen, they often felt distracting and a little awkward for viewers.

Then came The Good Place. This time, the seriousness the show would include was built in as an underlying thread from episode one. Chidi’s morals and ethics classes for the “misplaced” Good Place residents allowed the show to do a deep dive into the human condition without leaving the audience feeling like they’d been preached to. This was a huge step in the change towards the Ted Lasso sitcom style. The fact that drama was purposefully built into the show from the very beginning gave the show permission to be serious without breaking the unspoken contract it made with viewers. That’s how they were able to share philosophical nuggets naturally, even when they came in the form of Jason calling himself “pre-successful.”

ENTER: Ted lasso

When Ted Lasso came on the scene and saw such immediate, overwhelming success, I knew I had to watch. The show only proved what I saw — starting with Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place — that the sitcom is changing.

Drama is becoming a layer of the genre. Instead of being a cameo, or an underlying thread, comedy and drama are merging. I find myself reluctant even to consider Ted Lasso a sitcom. I’ve come to think of it as a sit-dramedy. Drama is so integral to the show’s format that it would be wrong to act as if the drama wasn’t a core piece of the genre. Consider Ted’s panic attacks. Not once has Ted’s experience with anxiety been treated as a joke. His anxiety has been handled thoughtfully and seriously. If the show wasn’t built with drama as part of the framework, scenes like Rebecca helping Ted through his panic attack outside of the karaoke bar, or Roy hugging Jaime after his dad got kicked out of the locker room wouldn’t be nearly as emotionally poignant.

The comedy and drama are felt more fully because of how they complement each other.

This show has proven that the boundaries of comedy can — and perhaps should — be pushed. Ted Lasso has shown us not only that comedy and drama can share space in a single episode but that both genres are elevated by such treatment. When done right, this is true even when comedy and drama share a single scene. The recent season two finale, for example, was the ultimate culmination of Ted Lasso’s genre merging. At the very beginning of the episode, when Ted asks Coach Beard if he’d heard about the article and Beard says no, comedy and drama meet. The moment the audience sees the newspaper in Beard’s back pocket, we laugh because of the immediate contradiction of what we’re expecting. Still, as they walk away, something else settles in. The audience is given the opportunity to see this as a moment of friendship. Of course, Beard knows about the article, Ted’s ex-wife back in America knows about the article. At this moment, Beard is the best friend that he can be for Ted. They don’t have to talk about the article, not yet. Later, when Roy finally joins the Diamond Dogs, we have this scene where Roy gushes over how beautiful and amazing Keeley is and admits that he’s hurt to have been left out. Once again, this show reminds us of what it is to be human. Then, when Roy calls the Diamond Dogs cool, Ted and Beard’s fangirl reaction was so funny I had to rewatch it multiple times. In both of these scenes, the comedy and drama are felt more deeply because of how they complement each other. Each one offers the other weight and beauty.

I’m not saying that every comedy or sitcom is going to follow this model from here on out. We should have diversity within the genre. But Ted Lasso has proven that the sit-dramedy is possible and wonderful. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Oh, and about Nate…

Megan is a Senior at UCF majoring in English with a Creative Writing track. When she isn't reading or writing, you can find her watching her favorite TV shows and movies. Megan loves to travel and has already crossed 10 countries off her list. You can find more of Megan on her YouTube channel www.youtube.com/meganreneevideos, on Instagram @meganreneetoday, or TikTok @meganreneetoday
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