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Ted Lasso S3 Undermines The Show's Biggest Strength

Contains spoilers for "Ted Lasso" Season 3 Episode 5, "Signs"

"Ted Lasso" is a very good show about a very good coach. He just happens to come from a very different sports background than the team he manages and possesses a very different skill set than the kind of people who usually lead top teams to glory. Sure, there's plenty of other stuff, too, but ultimately –  that's it, that's the show.

For much of its duration, the Apple TV+ hit comedy-drama has managed to portray the fish-out-of-water Coach Lasso as a person who may know almost nothing about soccer or the English league system, but who has a talent for understanding people and what makes them tick ... barring himself, of course. Even when the show has extended its reach by doing deep dives into other characters' lives and Ted's own convoluted innerspace, it has consistently stuck with his uncanny ability to inspire, occasional panic attack notwithstanding.

However, something strange has happened over the course of Season 3. The show has inexplicably started to high-key ignore the erstwhile Mr. Lasso's hitherto undeniable man-management talents, while still making extremely clear that he's not what you'd call an amazing soccer coach. Come "Ted Lasso" Season 3 Episode 5, it's clear that the show isn't even trying to present Ted as a capable professional right now ... which means "Ted Lasso" has robbed itself of its biggest strength. (Besides Hannah Waddingham, that is. She still rules.)

Ted Lasso needs to do what he does best for the show to do what it does best

Minor league football guy though he may be, "Ted Lasso's" core tenet is that Ted is an extremely good coach in his own way. He can compensate for his lack of soccer knowledge with his people skills and ability to lift team spirit, and constantly inspires his coaching staff to contribute match-winning ideas and tactics. 

Not so much in Season 3. The implication here is that Ted was thoroughly carried by Nate (Nick Mohammed) before the latter's departure for West Ham, and unfortunately, the show does little to convince anyone this wasn't the case. After an early chance to shine with his sewer stunt in Episode 1, Ted spends the first episodes of the season as a non-entity, coaching-wise. Zava (Maximilian Osinski) renders him powerless for much of the season, and by Episode 5, it's clear that even the avocado-peddling star striker can't act as a counterweight to AFC Richmond's managerial ineptitude. 

In "Signs," Richmond is on a month-long losing streak before Zava leaves, and it's painfully clear that Ted's been wholly unable to manage his players or coaching staff in any capacity, leaving everyone on edge. This isn't an isolated incident, either — during the earlier West Ham game, Ted's "surprise me" negligence causes Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) to commit a gross tactical error that costs the team the match in a dramatic fashion, and he doesn't even care about this afterward. No wonder Leslie (Jeremy Swift) has started to entertain the idea of firing Ted. 

Granted, Ted's been struggling with a whole bunch of personal issues as of late, and Episode 5 does end with a classic Lasso pep talk that implies things might be getting better. Still, a bad month can be costly in the life of a Premier League manager ... as well as in the eyes of "Ted Lasso" fans who've had to watch their favorite empathic coach lose his most defining trait for nearly half a season.