'Ted Lasso' returns for a darker 'Empire Strikes Back' second season

Watch: A trailer for the second season of Ted Lasso

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He might be the most positive, uplifting and joyous character football has ever seen, but is Ted Lasso about to go dark?

The stunning Apple TV+ comedy about a small town American football coach managing a Premier League club was one of the smash hit series of last year – mainly due to its charm, warmth and the seemingly infinite positivity of the titular hero.

But as it returns for a second season this summer, actor and creator Jason Sudeikis warned fans might be in for an rockier ride.

A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)
A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)

The first run ended with heartbreak after a killer twist saw his team AFC Richmond relegated from the Premier to the Championship.

Sudeikis revealed: “It’s our Empire Strikes Back or the middle of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.

“It’s a moodier second album when maybe people are dealing with the repercussions of the success of the first album. It’s the Marshall Mathers LP.

A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)
A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)

“We had these major chords that we wanted to hit but then we wanted to allow the writers and the actors that portray the characters and everyone in between from set design to the props department to wardrobe to feel like they can solo within those chords.”

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The surprise hit helped cheer up the locked down world last summer, and the brilliant fish-out-of-water comedy was as successful with football daft fans as much as soccer-phobic sceptics.

It showed incredible depth as it moved beyond lightbulb-bright optimist Ted’s life to follow the struggles of jilted AFC Richmond club boss Rebecca Felton, ego mad superstar Jamie Tartt and fading light Roy Kent, telling an incredible set of stories inside ten brilliant episodes.

A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)
A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)

Jason Sudeikis created the character for a TV advert following work on Saturday Night Live, and has loved bringing him to life. And been blown away by the reaction.

“Feeling the echoes and vibrations of people’s enjoyment of the show has been satisfying and thrilling. It’s very moving in many ways and I take real pride in the fact that people have watched the show multiple times.”

The actor has previously been best known for movies like Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers, Hall Pass and even as ragey hero Red in the Angry Birds movies.

Jason Sudeikis arrives at the premiere of the second season of
Jason Sudeikis at the premiere of Ted Lasso season two. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

But he’s quickly been closely identified with his beloved coach, and has let the positivity of the later ego infect his own image.

He rode the red carpet for the season two premiere famously sporting a sweater showing the names of Jadon & Marcus & Bukayo in support of the English players who suffered racist abuse after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

He said: “Ted is egoless. Ted sees who people are and he allows them to be themselves and reflect who they think he is, which is really who they are.”

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He added: “Once I had this understanding of who the Ted Lasso character was, it became very clear to me that the show would be thought of being one way and we could use that to our advantage — the assumptions and presumptions people play.

“It’s one of the themes of the show too, so it’s intentionally meta. But it’s been unintentionally appreciated in a way that still knocks my socks off.”

A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)
A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)

And Sudeikis is quick to thank the people that have inspired him and helped him along the way – starting with his most famous former SNL colleague.

“The person that this had happened to before me was Tina Fey. As an improviser, you are a writer as well and you’re writing as you go. While there’s a different knack for writing on a keyboard than doing it extemporaneously, Tina’s advice to me was ‘If you can improvise, you can write.’”

And he’s brought his close friend and collaborator Brendan Hunt along as co-writer, producer and on the pitch, as Ted’s assistant manager Coach Beard.

Nick Mohammed, Jason Sudeikis, and Brendan Hunt in 'Ted Lasso,' premiering globally on Friday, August 14, on Apple TV+.
Nick Mohammed, Jason Sudeikis, and Brendan Hunt in 'Ted Lasso,' premiering globally on Friday, August 14, on Apple TV+.

“The relationship between Ted and Coach Beard is autobiographical in the sense of the duration that Brendan and I have known each other because we’ve known each other for 20 years.

“I think he’s brilliant as a performer first and foremost and then also as just a great brain with a remarkable ability to draw parallels between two disparate things.”

Ted Lasso season two launches on Apple TV + Friday 23 July, with new episodes dropping weekly.

Watch: Jason Sudeikis on supporting England's football heroes.