For many viewers, “kindness” might be the first word that comes to mind when they think about Ted Lasso. And it’s true on all fronts, but one of the show’s greatest strengths is how it underscores the fact that asking for help isn’t a weakness. It’s how it ensures that no matter what a character (and thus, a person) is going through, there’s someone beside them ready to help. And if there isn’t, we as a society should aspire to be that person prepared to hold another’s hand.
It happens throughout the series, and if we pick apart every moment, we’d be here all day. (Quite literally, I’m scared to think about how many words it’d result in, and I’ve already written a lot for this show.) Still, the moment where it becomes abundantly clear that this is what the show is about is in “The Hope That Kills You.” It starts when a man like Roy Kent, who’s used to people walking away, watches a woman come closer even when he barks out that she shouldn’t be near him. It ends when Ted utters the words, “There’s something worse out there than being sad, and it’s being sad and alone. Ain’t nobody in this room alone.”
We might not all love how the series ended, but this isn’t a time for that conversation. Instead, it’s a reflection on how the series honors this very speech throughout its run, indeed ensuring that no one is ever alone when they’re going through something. Jamie Tartt, the loneliest person in this episode, is last seen having the time of his life with his friends in the Season 3 finale. Where Season 2 begins and ends, he’s a character jumping on his friends, cheering their victories on right alongside them. In Season 1, Episode 4, “For the Children,” Rebecca Welton tearfully says the words, “I don’t want to be alone,” and she ends the season with an entire team beside her (and maybe even love at her side). In Season 3, Episode 6, “Sunflowers,” Colin Hughes goes out by himself, thinking he can’t tell anyone the truth about his sexuality, but learns that Trent Crimm (and later his team) have his back.
There are countless instances like this where we watch characters realize that they truly aren’t alone. But there’s something else that Ted Lasso does with this theme, and it’s how it shows authentic reactions on both ends. There’s no character who isn’t visibly shocked by the helping hand they’re shown, and it’s ultimately because it’s been rare in their lives. Some of these characters didn’t give as much before they started receiving, but others like Ted, Sam, Keeley, and more are used to giving without anyone reaching forward to them. Much of this thankfully changes throughout the show’s run, and Ted Lasso allows each of these characters to understand that they’re in a valued, safe space now.
All of Ted’s locker room speeches are special, but this one offshoots the trajectory of where the show’s going and emphasizes the kind of people the characters want to be. There’s profound gratitude in each of them when someone takes the extra step to help them—to hear them, to stand beside them, to scorn them even. Even when there aren’t many words, their reactions tell us everything we need to know. Time and again, the show proves that everyone in this locker room will stand up for each other at some point. In Season 3, Episode 7, “The Strings That Bind Us,” Sam walks back into his vandalized restaurant to find his entire team helping him clean up. Higgins opens his home to players every Christmas. The entire team, but Rebecca especially, has Keeley’s back when her privacy is violated. Again, there are countless instances that exist like this, even if they’re so small that we barely notice upon the first viewing.
It’s a running theme throughout the series that easily reverberates off screen because loneliness is a universal feeling. No matter how popular, everyone has felt alone at some point. Some understand the perpetual aches more than others, given the circumstances in their lives, but even those who’ll never utter the words aloud understand the colossal weight it could bring. Maybe that’s why Ted Lasso’s “The Hope That Kills You” matters so much because, in a single episode, the show allows its audience to grasp that bottling up pain chains us deeper into our darkness and sharing burdens helps everyone grow.
When we start talking about things like anxiety, depression, loneliness, imposter syndrome, and self-doubts, we help other people come to terms with the shadows following them, too. We start to feel less alone when we understand that we aren’t the only ones struggling. This is largely why Ted Lasso Season 2 is so evocative in how it highlights the prominence of therapy and the significance of opening ourselves up to cognize what’s weighing us down. It’s why seeing a character like Roy Kent sit in a therapist’s office at the end of the show feels so rewarding despite how brief the scene is.
It’s a message to remember and hold onto. People don’t deserve to be or feel alone. They deserve the opportunity to have people fight for them and push against the walls they set up to find the places where they can give just as much if they have a little love. Because truly, nothing is sadder than being sad and alone.
Writer’s Note: I’ve opted not to mention “onward, forward” at all in this article because that single phrase deserves an article of its own someday.
All three seasons of Ted Lasso are now streaming on Apple TV+.