The Best Life Lessons ‘Ted Lasso’ Taught Me
Well, friends, the time we’ve all been dreading has finally arrived. The series finale of Ted Lasso has aired and I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t really know what to do with myself now. This show, quite literally, became one of my absolute favorite pieces of media the moment I watched the first episode. If you’ve been following The Everygirl for a while, you might already know this about me—I wrote this article in 2021 practically begging you all to watch the show.
Since then, Ted Lasso has garnered quite a fanbase. But it’s not just your average TV viewers who can’t get enough, Ted Lasso is also critically acclaimed, having won eight Emmy awards with more certain to come this year. What is it about the show that’s so universally compelling? If you ask me, it comes down to one thing and one thing only: its heart.
Yes, Ted Lasso is a comedy. But even though it has its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments (maybe even more than its fair share if I’m being honest), the show is really about redemption, growth, what it means to be human, and, in the end, the power of kindness. That sentence, in any other context, would be entirely eye-roll-inducing, but when it comes to Ted Lasso, it’s true and somehow not a total cringefest.
With season three now behind us and the future of Ted Lasso uncertain at best (I’m holding out for a spinoff, OK?) and nonexistent at worst, I’m looking back at the best life lessons I learned along the way that are certain to stick with me for the rest of my life.
Note: spoilers for the whole series ahead.
1. Forgiveness is freeing
Forgiveness is the driving force of season three’s penultimate episode, “Mom City.” In it, Ted encourages Jamie (who feels as if he’s “lost his Red Bull wings”) to forgive his dad when he reveals that being angry at him is no longer a sufficient motivator. When Jamie replies that forgiveness is the last thing he wants to give his father (which is fair given their history), Ted replies, “No, you ain’t giving him anything. When you choose to do that, you’re giving that to yourself.”
Jamie, feeling freer than he has all episode, goes on to have a phenomenal game, helping lift Richmond to victory. That win is great and all, but it’s not what I’m going to remember. Instead, I’m going to remember this lesson on forgiveness. Anger can only take you so far, but forgiveness can set you free.
2. Be curious, not judgemental
“Be curious, not judgemental” quickly became one of the show’s most memorable lines back in season one. The scene in which it was said is also one for the history books. In it, Ted and Rupert, the ex-husband Rebecca is hell-bent on getting revenge on in the first season, place a bet over a game of darts. The details of the bet aren’t important, what is important is the lesson Ted weaves into his final throw of the game.
Rupert views the game of darts as an easy way to get what he wants and asks Ted only one question before agreeing to the deal, “Have you played a lot of darts, Ted?” If Rupert had paused for a moment and been curious rather than judgemental, he might have asked better questions and realized playing darts with Ted was never going to go his way as Ted has been playing darts for his entire life. Instead, Rupert believes he has Ted completely figured out, which is an experience Ted reveals he is all too familiar with.
During the scene, Ted reveals that when he came across the quote, “Be curious, not judgemental,” something clicked for him. The guys that used to bully him never learned the importance of curiosity and instead judged everything and everyone. In Ted’s case, his bullies, and later Rupert, underestimated him, believed they had him all figured out, and judged him based on that perception. In life, being curious allows you to get to know someone for who they really are while being judgmental holds you back from making real connections.
3. We should care
In season three, Colin comes out to the team and truthfully, it goes as well as a person could want. Instantly, the Richmond team tells Colin that his sexuality doesn’t matter to them, that they don’t care, and that they still love and respect him. Sounds great, right? Ted then steps in and announces that actually, no, they do care.
In true Ted fashion, he then launches into a personal analogy that only Americans can truly get, but his point is clear: We should care about our friends, their identities, and the things they care about. Ted says, “The point is Colin, We don’t not care. We care very much. We care about who you are and what you must’ve been going through. But hey, from now on, you don’t have to go through it all by yourself.” Offering support in this manner not only validates a person’s experience but also is a marker of true friendship.
4. Revenge isn’t the answer
I’ve been a Rebecca apologist from day one, but in the spirit of the show, I have to admit: Her revenge mission was never going to be as personally satisfying as she hoped it would be. Sabotaging Richmond, the “one thing” Rupert really loved, would have brought Rebecca a brief feeling of triumph, but along the way, she had to hurt and use a bunch of people who were just trying to do some good for the team. When Rebecca finally comes clean, it’s clear the guilt from following through with her plan would have eaten her alive.
So while getting revenge may seem like the only way to make yourself feel better after you’ve been hurt (we’ve all been there), the high will always be short-lived. Truly, moving on and healing on your own time to the point where the person who hurt you no longer holds power over you is more powerful than revenge will ever be. If I wasn’t trying to apply this show’s life lessons to real life, though, you better believe I’d be rooting for Rebecca to take Rupert for every single thing he has.
5. Everyone can benefit from therapy
In season two, Ted Lasso introduces sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone to Richmond. Throughout the season, Dr. Sharon meets with the players and helps them work through their off-the-field stuff so that they can be better players on the field (and, you know, have better mental health all around). Somewhat uncharacteristically, Ted is the one who is most reluctant to visit Dr. Sharon. He’d much rather talk to the people that really know him (like friends) when he needs advice. Suddenly, the Diamond Dogs start to make a whole lot more sense.
However, the lesson Ted learns, which I believe many can take away from the show, is that, no matter how much you think it won’t work for you, therapy could be exactly what you need to finally work through and heal from the things that life has thrown your way.
Later in season two, we learn that Ted’s dad committed suicide when he was 16, and Ted has thus far coped by focusing all of his attention on others, spreading positivity left and right, and burying his own emotions. When Ted finally seeks Dr. Sharon’s help, therapy proves to be the thing that finally helps him confront the deeply rooted issues he’s spent the better part of his life pretending don’t exist. While Ted works tirelessly to help everyone around him become the best version of themselves, therapy helps him finally do the same for himself.
6. Be a goldfish
Shortly after Sam Obisanya makes a mistake during a training session, Jamie relentlessly mocks him (this was pre-redemption arc, mind you). While Roy takes a more confrontational approach and shoves Jamie away from Sam, Ted pulls Sam aside and tells him to “be a goldfish” as their short-term memory makes them the happiest animal on the planet. Though Sam looks baffled by Ted (again, this was early days before Ted’s philosophy fully made sense to everyone), the message is clear: Don’t dwell on mistakes. Instead, be a goldfish, forget about them, and move on. Keep this in mind next time you fail to catch a typo in an important email.
7. Don’t judge someone by their lowest moment
I’ve gone back and forth on whether this one should really be “everyone deserves a second chance.” There are a whole lot of second chances in Ted Lasso; Rebecca, Jamie, and Nate all receive second chances from Ted. And it’s a valuable lesson to keep in mind—second chances should be given, but I don’t believe that rule is as universal as this one (Rupert, I’m looking at you). Instead, I believe the lesson about second chances really has to do with judgment, when you pass it, and how you decide whether someone is deserving of that second chance.
This comes into play in Ted Lasso when Ted shares the full video of Nate destroying the team’s “Believe” sign. As with many of Ted’s analogies, it’s not clear where he’s going, but at the end of his speech he tells Beard, “I hope that either all of us or none of us are judged by the actions we take in our weakest moments, but rather for the strength we show if and when we’re given a second chance.” We later learn that Ted gave Beard a second chance many years ago, and now it’s Beard’s turn to extend that courtesy.
This is why I think the overall lesson Ted Lasso is trying to teach us isn’t that everyone deserves a second chance, it’s that we shouldn’t judge a person by the things they do when they’re at their lowest. Instead, give them grace, maybe a little forgiveness, and offer a second chance from there… unless they’re Rupert. More