EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY: We’re gonna make it after all

Last week we bade farewell to an iconic television character and series, “Ted Lasso.” It felt sadder to me than such endings usually do. Trying to figure out why, a Google search turned up this: “Ted Lasso: the top 11 characters ranked by their amount of heart,” noting the show had “tapped into the human condition.” Its characters, flawed in their own unique ways, had heart to boot. I wish the show wasn’t going away at a time when its central offerings — kindness and vulnerability — seem in such short supply.

Why though, if there’s a disinclination to show kindness and be vulnerable with one another, was the show so popular? If its broad audience values that message so much, isn’t it a logical conclusion that a kinder world and more vulnerability in our relationships is what we aspire to? And thus, perhaps we’re not as far gone as the daily news seems to indicate?

I’m not some pollyanna. Yet as I age, I find myself trading in cynicism for optimism. As one who grew up working in politics, that may seem quite a leap. But it feels right. Heck, if partisans in Washington can agree on a debt ceiling deal, anything is possible right?

This is a spoiler alert if you haven’t yet watched the series finale. One of the best moments and quotes came not from Jason Sudeikis’s character but rather the quiet but generous wisdom of Jeremy Swift’s Higgins. When stoic Roy Kent finally shows vulnerability and joins the supportive Diamond Dogs, it’s Higgins who notes, “Human beings are never gonna be perfect, Roy. The best we can do is to keep asking for help and accepting it when you can. And if you keep on doing that, you’ll always be moving towards better.” How can we respond to that other than with a resounding Amen!?

Of course, most of the iconic lines over three seasons came from Ted himself: “I think things come into our lives to help us get from one place to a better one.” I don’t ascribe to the view that “things happen for a reason,” but it’s hard not to find myself agreeing that sometimes it sure seems that way.

“I believe in Communism. Rom-communism that is. If Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan can go through some heartfelt struggles and still end up happy, then so can we.” I’d like to meet the writers who came up with the rom-communism line. Who hasn’t pictured themselves on the observation deck of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day locking eyes with the love of your life? Yes, most of us happily welcome a card and flowers, but rom-coms inspire a return to our once youthful hearts.

Ted’s admonitions of “don’t let the wisdom of age be wasted on you” and the most well-known “be curious, not judgmental” have been quoted by sages and politicians alike. 

In the finale, Ted was presented with the galleys of the book about the team written by embedded former journalist Trent Krimm. Ted’s only feedback was to change the title. It shouldn’t be “The Lasso Way” he noted because, “It’s not about me, it never was.” Speculation abounds that the line was meant to signal that a spinoff series was possible without the central character. 

I took the line a different way. The kindness and heart and vulnerability offered by Ted Lasso for three seasons was never about him. It was about us and what we really want, and what we know we are capable of. 

A couple of days before the Lasso season finale. I happened across a streaming documentary about Mary Tyler Moore. Her show ended in 1977 when I was 11 years old but I know it impacted me deeply with its then-unique window into the possibilities of a life as an independent, successful woman. To this day when I experience moments of sheer joy related to my professional life, I picture Moore spinning around on the street and tossing her winter hat in the air. Well, in truth, I actually picture myself spinning around and tossing my hat in the air. Which is the kind of confessional made to the Diamond Dogs, but since that circle of trust is fictional, dear readers, I share it with you.

Television series touch us most when they shine a light on what we really want and who and how we want the world to be. Thanks to the reminder from Ted Lasso, I think we’re going to make it after all.

Virginia Buckingham
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A member of the Marblehead Current’s Board of Directors, Virginia Buckingham is the former chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority, chief of staff to two Massachusetts governors, deputy editorial page editor for the Boston Herald and author of “On My Watch: A Memoir.” 

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