Connecting with Culture
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Season 3 of the award-winning series Ted Lasso has arrived on Apple TV. And I’m here for it.
Why watch a series about an American coaching an English Premier League football club? Because it’s a fantastically funny, feel-good series in which the main character is far from naïve but still manages to be kind to everyone.
Even if you have only a passing interest in sport, Ted Lasso comments on a wealth of topics including relationships, influence, gender, and mental health. Personally, I’ve particularly enjoyed what this show says about money.
As you’d expect in a show about professional footballers, most characters are wealthy – and even those that aren’t can afford London rents. Scarcity is not a prominent theme.
But, we still see plenty of financial decisions – both noble and ignoble. Some characters use money to bully and control people, or reap publicity from charitable giving. But others turn down unethical sponsorship deals, or offer good contracts of employment.
In essence, the show offers us two paradigms. Money can aggregate prestige, where things are bought for bragging rights and then sold for a profit. Or it can be used to work good in other people’s lives and enable their agency.
For example, in season two, the footballer Sam Obisanya buys an empty property to turn it into a Nigerian restaurant, all for the joy of sharing the cuisine he loves most.
Granted, few of us have money to use on that scale. And to be clear, I do not advocate overspending or diverting money from breadline causes. But I do want to ask what that imaginative use of money might look like.
There are things that some of us (not all of us) can afford once in a while that others might not feel they can ask for – and wouldn’t be able to get at a food bank. Like a babysitter and a cinema ticket. Or a tablet or iPad. Or, if you want to go full Ted Lasso, an emergency appointment with a private dentist on Christmas Day.
These things won’t end inequality, but they can make a material difference to a person’s wellbeing and even long-term quality of life. And, far from creating awkwardness, that sense of ‘you didn’t have to,’ that no-strings, fruit-of-the-Spirit kindness, is the stuff that makes lasting friendships.
Christine runs a blog exploring Scripture through poetry, prose, and drama.