There is a tremendous amount to adore about this scene at the bar that’s paired the words “Ted Lasso” and “curiosity” together, and it’s not necessarily about the fact that the good guys win, but it’s about how they do it. For a show that rightfully caters so much to its characters and favors it above the plot, it’s also often full of incredible surprises, organically panned out with the kind of moments that will have you screaming in excitement while crying tears of joy.
I won’t ever stop saying this, but if more people in the world understood the layers and nuances of other people as Ted does, we’d definitely live in a better world. (And it’s why I can’t stop crying about the purity in the character and the show’s approach to everything.) That said, Rupert is the only character on this show that deserves all the smack, but when it comes to how he’ll be treated by Ted, it’s not going to change the approach our beloved coach takes. (Also, if this show ever decides to redeem Rupert, I’m sure they’ll surprise us in how believable that is too.)
In a single, poignantly, and inspirationally executed monologue, Ted revealed so much about him it was heartbreaking. I think we all presumed that someone like Ted would’ve been bullied as a kid because all the good ones tend to be, but to hear it out loud followed by how he’s navigated through that as a parent and the approach he’s taken to understand that it’s not about him, but rather the lack of curiosity in other kids was utter genius.
“Guys underestimated me my entire life. And for years, I never understood why. It used to really bother me. But then one day I was driving my little boy to school and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman and it was painted on the wall there. It said: ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ And I liked that. So I get back in my car and I’m driving to work, and all of a sudden it hits me. All them fellas that used to be belittle me; not a single one of them were curious. They thought they had everything all figured out. So they judged everything, and everyone. And I realized that their underestimating me…who I was had nothing to do with it. Cause if they were curious, they could’ve asked questions. You know? Questions like: ‘Have you played a lot of darts, Ted’ To which I would’ve answered: ‘Yes, sir. Every Sunday afternoon at a sports bar with my father, from age ten til I was 16 when he passed away.’ Barbecue sauce.”Ted Lasso, “The Diamond Dogs”
When it comes to quoting famous authors, renowned sayings, etc., it doesn’t always hit as it’s supposed to because the execution and the tone matter as much as the story and the character telling it. In this case, the story and the moment both needed to work; thus, quoting Whitman had to come out in a reverberating way that’d hit us all, and it does so because Ted not only mentions the bullies from the past, but he mentions his late father and thereby, effortlessly ties it into the present because it touches on Rupert’s judgment as well. The camera then pans to Rebecca’s reaction with a heart-shattering expression that also plays in on the efficacy, and Hannah Waddingham crushed me with a single look.
Ted Lasso is far from the hillbilly Rupert calls him out to be—in his optimism, he’s more grounded in reality than anyone else, and that’s why it works so beautifully. We mentioned this detail when we discussed Ted forgiving Rebecca, but we believe the character because the process is organic and never forces us to. Ted has a lot of Ted talks (pun intended), but they never feel out of place or forced because they are always layered with the detail that curiosity and goodness require more hard work than judgement does.
It’s easy to look at someone and pass judgement. Curiosity requires people not only caring enough to ask questions, but it requires putting in effort in order to find what they’re looking for. In order to get to know someone. It’s easy to look at someone like Ted and say well, optimism must come naturally to him, but you can’t force that. And that’s just it with this character—Ted Lasso, at this point, has not only shown us all the ways in which he’s struggling, but he’s told us about some of the demons that haunt him too.
So I say this again, it’s anything but easy to stand in front of a smug man in power who’s insulting him and not fire back. It’s anything but easy to throw the darts with grace and tell the story with a type of humility that’s admirable. As calm and collected as Ted is, it has clearly taken a tremendous amount of work to get here, and this is what the series shows us. Optimism isn’t easy; it’s worked towards. Yes, some people are inherently better at it than others, but that’s a choice too—it’s a choice Ted makes every single day to rise above the waves and help others as opposed to dragging them down.
Ted is a man who’s lost his father at an age that generally can have a severe impact on boys. He later picked up his life and moved to a different country to give his now ex-wife the space she needed. He never gives up on anything. He’s currently away from his son, which clearly breaks his heart constantly. He’s the perpetual target for ridicule and everyone’s rage where the team is concerned. And as we saw in episode seven, he deals with panic attacks. What happens to men like Ted often in media? They resort to villainy and nihilism while using their past as an excuse to be unkind to others, but instead through Ted, we see someone who gets up every time he falls. We see someone who actively tries to be a better person because that is the choice he’s made for his life.
He makes the choice to be curious, and he makes the choice to look deeper into who people are. He chooses to forgive and he chooses to uplift.
That’s why this win is so significant because while it’s mainly for Rebecca and to help her, simultaneously it’s the exhibition of integrity—it’s the detail that a win like this is even more worthy of celebration because it comes from the underdog shining through with humility. Ted isn’t the most beloved character in the bar, he is, after all, the town’s “wanker,” but at this moment, it’s clear as day the energy in the room shifts. Something happens, and in Rebecca’s words, it feels good.
It’s also why Ted suggesting Rebecca buy drinks for everyone is so beautiful because with his win, everyone has a place in the celebration. It’s not just his win—it’s theirs. Ted shares his success with people because collective joy matters tremendously to him. No one on this show is going to be left out of anything because Ted Lasso has been left out before, and that’s not something he ever wants anyone else to experience.