Scenes from inside the ‘Ted Lasso’ writers room (video)

From John Jurgensen’s “A ‘Ted Lasso’ Christmas Episode Comes to Apple TV+ in August. Why?” in Monday’s Wall Street Journal:

To earn a big sentimental moment in the recent season premiere, the writers started with a sacrifice of sorts: As the episode opens, star player Dani Rojas fires a penalty kick that strikes a mortal blow to the team’s mascot, a greyhound named Earl. The accident undermines Dani’s exuberant mantra—“Football is life!”—and sends him into a grief spiral, which introduces the team psychologist.

The writers’ method for escalating the stakes triggered a big debate behind the scenes. “Dani Rojas cannot kill a dog. We as a television show cannot kill a dog. That’s a Top 10 rule of TV, you can’t kill a dog,” says executive producer Joe Kelly, who helped develop “Ted Lasso” and worked on such comedies as “How I Met Your Mother.”

“There was some resistance in the [writers] room, but there was considerable resistance from higher up,” Mr. Hunt recalls, referring to creative executives who oversee the show at Apple and the Warner Bros. Television studio.

Eventually Mr. Sudeikis convinced the show’s handlers that the scene set up a crucial chain of emotional events in the episode—paying off with a speech by Ted about fear and loss, and a dog he once knew: “You know, it’s funny to think about the things in your life that can make you cry knowing that they existed, can then become the same things that make you cry knowing that they’re now gone,” the coach says at a press conference. “I think those things come into our lives to help us get from one place to a better one.”

Mr. Sudeikis, who wrote the speech, is also the reason the monologue is played straight and doesn’t end with a punchline. “Everyone had different ideas of what the show could be, but Jason knew what the hell it was,” Mr. Kelly says of the former “Saturday Night Live” star.

Cue the intro:

My take: Why Christmas in August? According to Jurgensen, the writers had already mapped out a 10-episode arc for the the show’s second season when Apple execs ordered up an 11th. Reading between the lines (and having watched that Christmas special), I imagine the writers handing in a show that wouldn’t have made the cut in Season one.

One Comment

Leave a Reply