Ted Lasso Creator Bill Lawrence Wanted The Show To Be Like Scrubs

There have been maybe five television writers in the last half a century on the same level of success as Bill Lawrence. His contributions to the pop culture landscape are legion: He created or co-created "Spin City," "Scrubs," "Cougar Town," "Shrinking," and "Ted Lasso." You would think, after all of that, he wouldn't have a problem convincing studios to let him make what he wants to make.

But life is strange, and show business is a labyrinth, and when Lawrence pitched what he remembered star Jason Sudeikis describing as a series "with the emotional undercurrent of a show like 'Scrubs,'" he recalled being misunderstood. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the legendary producer said that when first pitching the show, potential investors would look at the source material — a series of TV promos for NBC Sports' coverage of premier league football — and "immediately assume, 'Oh, so it's a silly, broad, sketchy cartoon show.'" 

Harsh? Fair? Let's take a look at the evidence.

Buyers didn't see the Scrubs-like emotional potential for Ted Lasso

Looking back at that source material, it's at least reasonable to understand how prospective buyers might have misinterpreted Bill Lawrence and Jason Sudeikis' intentions. The original Ted Lasso promos, which ran on NBC Sports beginning in 2013, were closer to an "SNL" sketch than a dramatic comedy, and featured a classically dumb American struggling to understand that American football and soccer are two different sports.

In fact, in hindsight, it's frankly amazing how "Ted Lasso" managed to escape the gravitational pull of its source material. Across three seasons on Apple TV+, the series has gracefully tackled subjects ranging from anxiety disorders to domestic violence to suicide, while managing to balance a sense of humor and optimism at the same time. Like Sudeikis and Lawrence wanted, it became a show combining genuine emotion and comedy, much like "Scrubs" — or like "Scrubs" before "Scrubs" jumped the shark, anyway.

The third and final season of "Ted Lasso" is currently streaming new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+.