As long as I can remember1, any protagonist of a movie or a TV show who wasn’t world-weary and cynical was either naïve, stupid, or both. In American popular culture, “good” people are the way they are only because they don’t understand how the world truly works. As side characters they are mostly comic relief. As protagonists they can only succeed through piercing the veil of ignorance — becoming worse people in the process — or by pure dumb luck. Ned Flanders, Forest Gump, Kimmy Schmidt all come to mind.
Not so with Ted Lasso, the only character in recent memory who is well aware that the world is harsh and that there are people out to get him2, yet defaults to thinking the best of everyone he meets. He is still capable of mild deception in the service of punishing the wicked, but he can’t even punish someone without an endearing monologue on what he’s all about: being curious and not judgmental.
Being more curious and less judgemental would serve everyone well at any time, but never more so than this year, when everyone suspects the worst of everyone else. The default behavior is mistrust, the default sentiment cynicism. This show starts with plenty of both, yet they melt away under Lasso’s high-power beam of un-ironic and very self-aware goodness. If the 2000s were the decade of The Wire and the 2010s were the decade of the Game of Thrones, I wish, hope, pray that the 2020s turn out to be the decade of Ted Lasso.