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'Ted Lasso' Has Been A Hit In America. Here's How It Landed Across The Pond

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

"Ted Lasso" is a TV show about an American football coach who takes over a mediocre English soccer club.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

JASON SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) Hey, how y'all doing? I'm Ted Lasso, your new coach.

KELLY: It's a fish-out-of-water comedy that sends up the cultural differences between Britain and America and became a feel-good hit during lockdown. The Apple TV+ show is up for 20 Emmys later this month. NPR's Frank Langfitt visited The Prince's Head, the pub where a lot of the show is shot, to see how it is going down with Londoners.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: So this is the pub where Ted Lasso comes after practice to get a pint. It's a classic London pub. It's sort of stucco up top, glazed wall tiles on the bottom and lots and lots of baskets of flowers. And as the show has caught on among some people here in London, it's become a pilgrimage site for fans. And one of them is a guy named Dave Edwards (ph).

DAVE EDWARDS: My friends said, oh, you want to watch "Ted Lasso"? And I said, well, I'm not interested in football. I hate it. And they said, it's not about football; it's about people. We watched it, and now we just can't get enough.

LANGFITT: Dave is referring, of course, to English football, which we call soccer. Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis, exudes this optimistic can-do attitude that people here associate with American.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) I do love a locker room - smells like potential.

LANGFITT: Ted, however, knows nothing about soccer, and people make fun of his folksy manner, including one of his players, Roy Kent.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

BRETT GOLDSTEIN: (As Roy Kent) Howdy, y'all cowboys. My name is Ted Lasso, and I'm from Kansas.

LANGFITT: But over time, Ted molds his collection of international players into a better soccer club and a supportive family. Dave Edwards says Ted's upbeat, inclusive philosophy has been a bright spot amid the darkness of the pandemic and the bitter divisions here surrounding Brexit.

EDWARDS: If you've got that open-mindedness and you're prepared to give people a chance, mixing with people that immediately don't trust you and then converting them - to see that rewarded is just a brilliant way of doing things.

LANGFITT: Your eyes are starting to glisten. Why does that make you so emotional?

EDWARDS: It speaks to me because I think there's not enough of that in the world. And I think if you can build bonds and trust people, that's how we should live. And it transcends nationality, religion. It's basically shared humanity.

LANGFITT: There's an old joke that England and America are two countries separated by a common language. And the show gets comic mileage out of lost-in-translation moments, highlighted in this exchange between Ted and his American assistant coach.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

BRENDAN HUNT: (As Coach Beard) They call cleats boots.

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) I thought you said that the trunk of a car was a boot.

HUNT: (As Coach Beard) Also a boot.

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) Hold on now. If I were to get fired from a job where I'm putting cleats in the trunk of my car...

HUNT: (As Coach Beard) You got the boot putting boots in the boot.

LANGFITT: The show is also a cross-cultural workplace comedy, which resonates with pubgoer and "Ted Lasso" fan Jess McCrawry (ph). She works for an American company here, and she enjoys how the show pokes fun at differences between Britains and Americans in the office, especially when it comes to feedback from employees.

JESS MCCRAWRY: It's the praising. When someone does something good, we don't really want to praise them. Like, yeah, yeah, well done, but move on. But I find with American culture, it's, let's keep harping on about how well we did, give each other a pat on the back and jazz hands (laughter). With my company, for example, the British people having to get used to that constant praise and shoutouts, which is very "Ted Lasso."

LANGFITT: When you first started working for this American company, how did you feel about all the shoutouts and the praise?

MCCRAWRY: Oh, it makes me cringe.

LANGFITT: The show's now in its second season, and some people here at the pub think it's slipping.

NICHOLAS KAISER: It's rather superficial. I'm not a huge fan of the show anymore.

LANGFITT: Nicholas Kaiser (ph) is a French citizen. He studied at the University of Virginia, now works here in finance. He thinks the second season has too much social commentary and is too didactic.

KAISER: It became a little too American, I would say. Each episode has a sort of moral at the end of the story, whether it be about children, mental health.

LANGFITT: But Dave Edwards thinks "Ted Lasso" is just what his country needs right now.

EDWARDS: The show speaks on the multicultural level, and it does show the best of Britain, not the intolerance and the hatred. It's a very positive experience in a very difficult time with COVID and with Brexit. If we're taking things forward, it has to be working together.

LANGFITT: That's what Dave Edwards calls the "Ted Lasso" way. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, London.

(SOUNDBITE OF PAVEMENT SONG, "DATE W/IKEA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.