Yesterday marked the return of Ted Lasso, Apple TV Plus’ breakout hit starring Emmy winner Jason Sudeikis as the impossible-not-to-like football coach ported from America to England.
The show became a breakout hit over the course of the pandemic, and the reason a lot of people subscribed to Apple TV Plus for the first time, myself included, just because of how forceful recommendations were for the series. It’s a wholesome, uplifting, hilarious show, and seemed like precisely what everyone needed in the midst of the darkness of the pandemic.
And yet, now that the show has returned for season 2, I wonder if Apple wouldn’t be wise to break from its usual formatting and release Ted Lasso season 2 all at once in Netflix-style binge format, which is how most people consumed the series the first time they watched it. Really, it wasn’t getting nearly as much buzz until after it had aired in its entirety.
This is not a position I take for most series. A problem with Netflix I’ve found is that many of its best series are impossible to discuss as everyone watches a new season of something in 36 hours and it disappears from the cultural conversation for the next 51 weeks. Other shows, from Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars productions, to even something like HBO’s Mare of Easttown, benefit from continuing to exist in weekly release format.
But I don’t think that’s true of a comedy like Ted Lasso.
Those other series are designed to keep you coming back to see what new twists and turns happen next week. But Ted? Stretching out a season over 12 weeks of 25-30 minute episodes when we’re not exactly ending on cliffhangers for a lighthearted comedy like this seems like a worse delivery vehicle, and very ‘90s-00s-era tuning into Friends or Seinfeld every week, which just feels dated for a half-hour comedy. I think there’s a reason Ted Lasso wasn’t ultra-popular until you could watch it all at once, and season 2 will suffer if it airs over the course of three full months rather than giving people the ability to watch it in a week.
I do not think there’s a one-size-fits-all approach for streaming TV now, which is what everyone needs to learn. I think Netflix would benefit from letting some of its bigger shows air week-to-week (Stranger Things, The Witcher), while other services would be wise to lean into the binge at times, like Apple with Ted Lasso here.
I’m sure season 2 of the show will be great, but just 30 minute doses of Ted once a week instead of the binge alternative is going to tamp down on some of the enthusiasm for the series, I think, rather than benefit it.
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