Is Ted Lasso based on a true story?
Ted Lasso has taken the world by storm, sweeping the 2021 Emmys and garnering worldwide critical acclaim and praise in the process.
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The show has quickly become a classic and beloved feel-good comedy, telling the tale of an NFL coach – Ted Lasso – as he tries to take the reins of Premier League side AFC Richmond despite having no experience coaching an English soccer team.
So, is Ted Lasso based on real-life events? GOAL takes a look.
Is Ted Lasso based on a true story?
Ted Lasso is not based on a true story, but the show does draw from real-life inspirations.
The show was initially conceived by stars Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt – who play Lasso and Coach Beard, respectively – over 20 years ago, when the pair were performing as improv comedy troupe Boom Chicago. After a visit to Amsterdam where Beard became enamoured by the sport of football, Sudeikis bought a PlayStation for the duo to play FIFA on.
Per the LA Times: "At the time no American had managed a major team in Europe outside of a video game, leading Sudeikis and Hunt to wonder what the transition might look like if an NFL coach gave it a try."
Sudeikis and Hunt's creation became realised several years later, when NBC Sports used the idea and story of Ted Lasso as part of an advertising campaign after they acquired the rights to broadcast Premier League games in 2012.
The broadcaster was unsure of how receptive their American audience would be to the Premier League, and so they used the character of Ted Lasso as their television spot to introduce their viewers to the English sport. The premise of the original advertisement is the same as the show: Lasso, an American NFL coach, gets hired to coach a Premier League side – Tottenham Hotspur, in this case – based on no prior experience or knowledge of the game. Naturally, Lasso is fired after just a few days, but this does not deter his enthusiasm, charisma and positive attitude.
The advert, done in a mockumentary style similar to The Office, was a huge hit in America and garnered over 250 million views on YouTube.
"The whole story of that first commercial was that he gets hired to coach a professional soccer team, and he gets fired three days later, and we just thought it would be funny if he wasn’t cynical or angry about that, that he just loved the experience and he loved London and he loved soccer, and that he brought that home with him," Sudeikis told Entertainment Weekly.
Lasso's inability to understand the simplified rules of English football as an American – offsides, no play-offs, the concept of draws – was a tool to familiarise U.S. audiences with the sport.
A few years later, Sudeikis' then-partner Olivia Wilde suggested the idea of turning the NBC advertisement into a television show.
“After doing the second video (in 2014), it really unlocked elements of the character that we found very, very fun to write and portray and view the world through," Sudeikis told Sports Illustrated. "So, one day in 2015, my partner Olivia came up to me and said, ‘You know, you should do Ted Lasso as a show,’ and I said, ‘I don’t know,’ but then after marinating on it, I thought maybe this could happen.”
Lasso met with Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence to pitch the idea of Ted Lasso as a television show, and the rest is history – with Lawrence now an executive producer on the series.
Inspirations behind Ted Lasso
Ted Lasso draws from several real-world aspects, with Sudeikis admitting that he was inspired by a few real-life Premier League managers - including the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
"Man. When I heard about [Klopp] taking his squad to go do karaoke, I was like, 'Hellooooo, story idea,'" Sudeikis told Sports Illustrated.
Sudeikis was also inspired by his high school basketball coach, his own father, and Manchester City manager Guardiola.
"That’s where the mustache comes from and him being real loquacious," Sudeikis told The Today Show.
"And then, my high school basketball coach, Donny Campbell — a fellow from a small town in Kansas who spoke in those little aphorisms, like 'Sudeikis, you look more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.'"
The character of Roy Kent was heavily inspired by Manchester United icon Roy Keane.
The club that Lasso manages, AFC Richmond, is not a real team, but is claimed to have drawn its inspiration from Crystal Palace. Both clubs are situated in London, with both donning the colours of red and blue, while Palace's home stadium, Selhurst Park, is the venue of Richmond's games.