WHY TED LASSO?

Changing American Tastes in TV

When I first heard the name Ted Lasso, I thought he might be a Lash LaRue character from a 1950s cowboy movie. Then I found out this modern-day character is played by Jason Sudeikis and my interest was piqued. I wanted to give the show a try but was disappointed to learn it was on Apple TV+, one of the few video platforms we didn’t have.

While out West for a wedding this summer, my significant other spent some time with her old friend who had Apple TV+ and she watched the first eight Ted Lasso episodes. She got hooked and she bought the Apple gizmo when we got home so we could experience Ted Lasso.

I’ve always liked Jason’s approach to humor, so I expected quality comedy, but after watching the first season I realized a number of things were happening with Ted Lasso.

First, the premise isn’t new. It’s similar to the Charlie Sheen movie Major League, which was released in 1989 when Sheen was still funny. Both feature a woman who takes over a professional sports team, but the similarity ends there. The woman in the Sheen film wants to grow her franchise for profit while the Lasso woman wants her London soccer team to fail to anger her ex-husband. To that end she brings aboard Mr. Lasso, an American college football coach from Kansas City who knows nothing about soccer, a game known as football in the UK.

I had an epiphany watching Ted Lasso win seven Emmy Awards the other night. Americans are moving toward different kinds of entertainment and sources of distribution. Maybe it’s not such a remarkable observation. After all, technology has been driving the migration away from over-the-air television during the last ten years. But thinking about the many aspects of how Americans now consume entertainment made me realize just how profound the changes are.

Network TV is no longer satisfying people, especially those who can afford multiple platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Paramount+, Disney+, Peacock, Apple TV+, Sling, YouTube and, well, I could go on, but I’ve made my point. Smart TV’s have enabled the use of those applications at the touch of a button, but it’s not just technology that drives binge watching, it’s the content.

Ted Lasso came along at a fortunate time. We fell for this guy who’s been forced to be away from his family back in Kansas City, perhaps reminding us of FaceTime with our kids and family during Covid. In a sense, the soccer team members are Ted’s kids, and he is trying to give them fatherly advice, even when in the beginning of the series, they totally disrespect him. Lasso knows nothing about soccer but that doesn’t matter. He was brought in to destroy the franchise.

Ted Lasso is a story about redemption. The lead character’s analogies, metaphors and daily doses of shortbread biscuits brought to his boss are totally misunderstood by the locals, but he slowly grows on them. The success of the show has also spawned social media and exploitation experts to give us things like this.

It’s not a sports story as much as it’s a “dramedy” filled with tons of pop cultural references that are easy to miss if you aren’t watching closely. Corny pun driven quips flash by to keep the pace fast and crisp. Clever writing like, “This place reminds me of that movie Once. I liked it so much I watched it twice!” will make you laugh.

The show was developed by Sudeikis, Brandon Hunt, Joe Kelly and Bill Lawrence. The lead actors are totally involved in the writing, as was true with Jason’s roots in Second City and SNL. Unlike most shows, the characters’ lines are not created by a committee of writers and the language is not shaped or censored by attorneys and network suits. The writing technique gives characters their natural vulgarity and relatability. They also have kids using adult language that throws viewers off at times and, well, is funny.

There are some truly heart moving moments in the show. I find myself feeling for these people despite my natural blocking of predictive emotional heart plucking or equally obvious embedded lessons being dispersed. Why is this? Could it be, just damn good writing?

There is a certain vulnerability to Jason’s portrayal of Ted Lasso. The hyper-positive “Pollyanna” outlook of the man, which is magnified by his “cracker” over the top southern accent, keeps you wondering if Ted is the ultimate goldfish out of water or if he’s playing everyone for what they want him to be. As he slowly evolves from “wanker,” to “semi-respected wanker” and you root for him. In our age of cynicism and division, we can see the globalism of the team as well as the divide between the Americans and Brits, but mostly we go along for the ride. Lasso affects everyone, and even lacking success, he makes them feel good about themselves. Instead of a preacher, a politician or even a spouse, we all want to be around someone who rises above the shit of everyday life.

As I watched shows like The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, Hacks and Mare of Easttown win most of the awards, the influence of British writers, actors and producers on American entertainment became obvious. Then it truly hit me. Oh my God there were no awards for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX or other US network shows. We shouldn’t judge an entire medium based on awards, but people were missing the point while yelling “Oscars and Emmys so white.” The audience was way ahead of the award shows.

Over-the-air networks still have millions of viewers, but they focus on competition shows like The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars and The Voice along with one-season, second-class sitcoms. Perhaps this should come as no surprise. As viewers’ language and community standards change, network TV cannot “go there.” Sure, shows like Blackish are funny, but they fall short of the quality of humor that can be seen for a small monthly fee. We are changing and how we spend our entertainment time is also changing. The only network shows I regularly watch are the late-night talk shows, nightly news, and true crime shows like Dateline, 20/20 and 48 Hours. I’m sure there are many other just like me.

TV has always been used as an escape and the streaming platforms offer better escapes now. Just as Howard Stern left over-the-air radio to be able to say what he wanted on satellite radio, many talented people are now escaping to HBO, Apple, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon Prime and other streaming networks to share their uncensored and authentic stories. The success of Ted Lasso is the canary in the coal mine. The video streaming services have become the renewable entertainment sources of today and tomorrow.

BRAND NEW BOOK

We knew that the great divide in America would have a major effect on the presidential election in the year 2020, but something else was lurking that we didn’t anticipate. The world suffered a global pandemic of Covid-19, and everything changed. The lockdown motivated one author to write MASHED POTATOES: Covid, Cancer & Comfort Food. The cover ironically claims the book is a “humorous” recollection of 2020, but one might ask, “Where was the humor?” This is a work of survival to motivate those who desire to get beyond Covid-19, beat cancer and defend our precious Democracy.  The world got Covid, the writer got cancer and we all ate copious amounts of comfort food. It’s time to swallow the truth, survive the madness, take a large spoon and savor some delicious MASHED POTATOES. Get some here. 

Book for the Recovery – Build Back Better!

How to Hire Great People: Tips, Tricks and Templates for Success

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CANCER ON THE PRESIDENCY

The Wrecking Crew of Giuliani & Powell

Some people get thrown into the spotlight of American history even when they don’t deserve any oxygen. Still, we give them the glory, and by “we” I mean the ever-needy media with their cameras and microphones catching the mucus of lies that drips out of their collective mouths.

I lived in New York when the Twin Towers collapsed after the 9-11 terrorist attacks and saw the leadership Mayor Rudolph Giuliani showed to the entire world during it all. I also attended a seminar where he spoke about leadership. It was illuminating and inspiring, so he wasn’t always like this. By “this” I mean his recent highly partisan and hairbrained activities on behalf of President Donald Trump.

I think Rudy started to fall off the logic track when he ran for president and obsessively used the 9-11 attacks as the reason why people should vote for him. Rudy’s “hero” claims, however, bothered those who lost family members and friends during the attack. After his unsuccessful run, Rudy started practicing law and using his fame and celebrity to gain high paying contracts to “advise” nations and people around the world.

Rudy Bleeding For Trump

As Giuliani became closer with Trump, he began a sort of conspiratorial process, warping the details of actual happenings or completely fabricating others to keep him tight with our bulbous leader. He showed Trump how easily he could morph pure, outrageous lies into “facts.” Trump was just paranoid enough to believe he needed Giuliani by his side, and this gave “the mayor” a golden opportunity to manipulate the President.

While Rudy was in Ukraine, he took a few facts at face value and then created a dark “deep state plot” around them, Russian leader Vladimir Putin played Rudy to increase his hold on the 45th President. While he was being tried for impeachment in the Senate, the Donald went crazy looking for defense lawyers. He found lots of willing partisan has-beens to lie for him, like Jeffrey Epstein’s good friend Alan Dershowitz.

Along that path, Trump picked up Sidney Powell, a lawyer from North Carolina with a connection to many cases and comments that blended right into the conspiracy-driven notions of our demented President. During a recent press conference held at the RNC in Washington, Ms. Powell showed her real skin.

Sydney Powell

Powell’s unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about election interference were disconcerting, even for some Republican supporters of Trump. Sidney claimed there was a “deep state plot” to frame Trump’s disgraced advisor Michael Flynn and, as his attorney, she was involved in getting Flynn to reverse his guilty plea.

Sidney Powell has promoted personalities and concepts associated with the QAnon conspiracy group. She has discussed a supposed effort involving international Communists, “globalists,” George Soros, Hugo Chávez (who has been dead since 2013), the Clinton Foundation, thousands of Democratic and Republican officials, including Trump ally and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, to rig the election in favor of Joe Biden. Soon enough after spewing her falsehoods, she became the victim of the “cancel culture” of Fox News.

While making the rounds at all the pro-Trump media shows, Sidney Powell laid the foundation for her own demise. Tucker Carlson didn’t like Tucker’s approach, and he attacked her during a ten-minute monologue at the top of his Fox News show saying, “What Powell was describing would amount to the single greatest crime in American history; millions of votes stolen in a day. Democracy destroyed. The end of our centuries-old system of government.” He further disclosed that she became “angry and told us to stop contacting her” when his producers invited Ms. Powell to appear on his show and share her evidence. After that, the Trump sycophants attacked Fox News and their boy Tucker because he wanted to expose the evidence. Why?

The “cancel culture” that Tucker Carlson decries every night is very much alive at Fox News, and for years Rupert Murdoch has employed that approach to those he doesn’t like, just as Trump has. So, what would be more important to Trump? The opinions of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Leven and the far-right loonies, or his desire to overturn the election results? Ha! Do I have to ask?

Man Doing Brain Measurement

Last night, November 22, 2020, Sidney Powell’s Wikipedia page was suddenly updated: “Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis issued a statement that Powell is “practicing law on her own” and is not (or is no longer) a part of the Trump legal team.” According to The Washington Post, “The Trump campaign cut ties with Powell because she was seen as harming Trump’s broader legal efforts, and that President Trump disliked the coverage she received on Tucker Carlson Tonight.” So, score another point for Tucker, who clearly must be the actual President of the United States.

Thus, we’re down to Trump’s two loyal lawyers, Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani. Their legal arguments are just sanitized versions of what Sidney Powell was saying. When a lawyer of the sitting Republican President attacks a loyal Republican Governor of Georgia because the people of his state voted for Biden, I guess that is a road too far. Not that I would go out of my way to defend Brian Kemp, the voter suppression king of the south, but he signed the document that gave Joe Biden the state because he was doing what he is legally bound to do. He followed the law and didn’t cheat.

The ugly effect of Giuliani on the Trump presidency harkens back to the words John Dean said to President Richard Nixon during Watergate, “I think that there’s no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we’ve got. We have a cancer within — close to the presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding. It grows geometrically now because it compounds itself.” Those are the actual words that Mr. Dean spoke to Nixon. Giuliani is a cancerous growth on Donald Trump’s legacy and presidency, but there is no one brave enough to make the rotund orange leader understand.

Sidney Powell was thrown under the bus because Rudy didn’t manage her, as if anyone could. They simply dismissed her because that’s how they roll. The American public has fired Donald John Trump, but he hasn’t yet received the word. He’s a fool surrounded by suckers and dupes, stark proof that Trump never took the job seriously. He’s just a spoiled brat game player on the playground, but he holds nuclear weaponry. He must be neutralized and removed, ASAP.

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The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

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THE CYBER BULLY-IN-CHIEF

Trump: Unhappy in His Own Skin

Donald Trump has once again demonstrated his thin skin and relentless mean streak. In a morning tweet, the President of the United States decided to do a silly immature, cruel and misogynistic post deriding MSNBC morning host Mika Brzezinski.

The tweet read as follows:

“I heard poorly rated @Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Now, I could have simply chalked it up to his M.O. and how Trump shows us his true colors through Twitter, but there is a problem here that is not going to go away. There is no respect for the office of the President of the United States with Trump and all his men and women.

Melania Trump, the first lady of this country, through a spokesperson said, “When her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.” I know that English is not Melania’s first language and I hope we didn’t miss anything in translation, but I have to say, there goes that whole bullshit concept of her being the titular head of some anti-cyber bullying campaign. Now, zero credibility.

If that was not bad enough, the protectors of the drunk uncle president were out in full force today. Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented, “I don’t think that the president’s ever been someone who gets attack and doesn’t push back. There have been an outrageous number of personal attacks, not just to him, but to frankly everyone around him. This is a president who fights fire with fire. And certainly, will not be allowed to be bullied by a liberal media and the liberal elites within the media or Hollywood or anywhere else.”

I’m not sure that the president of a country with a 1st Amendment can allow or disallow what others say about him. We have now seen the real enemy of the state and they are, indeed, those who work for the state. We are all getting burned by Trump’s fire and disregard for human beings.

The people around our president are soulless. They lie and disregard common decency to show their love for this power-hungry tyrant, Donald J. Trump. How do they sleep at night?

Whether you like Joe Scarborough or Mika or not, you have to consider that the imagery battles between the free press and the oppressive regime of Trump are now, in fact, real. The media, be it liberal, conservative, or far right, has a duty to find facts, write stories, conduct broadcasts and inform the American people.

Some talk show hosts do live in glass houses, but this president doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Those who support his abuse of power will be tried not only in the court of public opinion, but perhaps even called to testify in real court about whether they were instructed to lie to the American people. If lying to the citizens is not an impeachable offense, then what is?