It’s the end of the road for “Ted Lasso” and AFC Richmond as it all came to life on the Apple TV+ comedy from Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Bill Lawrence.
Or is it?
Apple has stayed vague about whether it was the Emmy-winning series’ final outing, despite public, bittersweet sentiment from the cast and near-constant speculation since well before Season 3’s March premiere. As recently as the morning of the finale, titled “So Long, Farewell,” a publicist underscored to IndieWire that Season 3 had not (bold, underlined) been confirmed as final. Along with the episode, Apple is now streaming a six-minute, 38 second goodbye video from the cast.
Episode 312 itself ties up the season’s big questions (“arcs” is generous), with Ted (Sudeikis) on his way home, Nate (Nick Muhammed) back at Richmond, Roy (Brett Goldstein) taking over as team manager, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) meeting a man and never having problems again, Colin (Billy Harris) out and proud, Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) playing for the Nigerian national team, and Beard (Hunt) getting married. A lot of this comes to pass in stirring emotional montage, complete with a “Superstore”-style team barbecue (fans have also suggested that this is all Ted dreaming on the return flight, which does not explain the presence of Rebecca’s Dutch beau).
Despite Apple’s hard line, there’s no denying that something is ending, be that Ted’s time at Richmond or the show’s specific position in the zeitgeist. Season 3 has been besieged by criticism, from unpredictable episode length to sidelining key characters and not knowing what to do with those who remain (if you enjoyed Amsterdam, I’m happy for you. And envious).
Ted’s homeward journey, while inevitable, comes off more contrived than earned, a logical plot device that denotes conclusion and reunites this man with his child who lives thousands of miles away. Everyone else is still very much together and prime for a spinoff, working and hanging out and living life “the Richmond way” (title alert!).
A spinoff would theoretically be the perfect way to dig into those characters and storylines that were disserviced, or simply to spend more time with them when Season 3’s 70-minute episodes (give or take) couldn’t. A year ago, a “Ted Lasso” spinoff would have translated to free money (and free Emmys), but the question now is how even the concept would be received; fans have alternately loved and loathed the season (and everything in between), which actually scored lower with audiences than critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The question was never if people care about characters besides the titular Ted, but what’s now in question is whether they still care after 12 confused episodes.
But why the continued ambiguity? “Barry,” “Succession,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” just reached their respective conclusions after months of definitive hype. The certainty informed cast and crew commentary, press coverage, and fan responses. The “Lasso” way comes off coy at best and smug at worst, ostensibly withholding information for withholding’s sake. Even with a possible spinoff in the works, why not give viewers space to decisively mourn a show as big as this one? Even a fourth season sans Ted would draw viewers, who invested as much in the ensemble as the lead over the years, freeing Sudeikis up for other projects and a cushy Executive Producer credit.
This lack of clarity wouldn’t stand out during network TV’s peak, where even the most beloved and acclaimed shows were subject to executive whims and advertiser scrutiny — and even then, the biggest shows were lucky enough to end on their own terms (she got off the plane!). It’s ironic that “Ted Lasso” harkens back to older sitcoms in such an inexplicable manner, or with weekly character studies in place of season-long arcs. And it’s unfortunate, that after an explosive debut and crowd-pleasing sweep, “Ted Lasso” Season 3 — even if it’s not the end — will go down as such a befuddling TV experiment.
All episodes of “Ted Lasso” are now streaming on Apple TV+.