HomeStreaming‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3 Could Win 14 Emmys —How Many Does It Deserve? – IndieWire
‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3 Could Win 14 Emmys —How Many Does It Deserve? – IndieWire
August 8, 2023
“Ted Lasso” did not end well. If you disagree with that statement, then it’s unlikely you’ll agree with much that follows in this essay — and that’s your prerogative as an experienced TV viewer. But even if you liked each season of the Apple TV+ mega-hit equally, it’s impossible to dispute that the (potential) final season was polarizing. Critics who hailed the first two seasons were disappointed by the third. Fans who fell in love with the characters over two sterling years faced confusion over their behavior in the latest story. Episodes ran twice as long, certain plots were left hanging, and others seem buttoned up for good. Confusion reigns supreme, and everyone was left with questions about what happened — and what’s next, if anything.
But the Emmy nominations reflected none of this. “Ted Lasso” Season 3 earned 21 nominations in 15 categories — more than either of its previous two awards runs, and more than any other comedy this year. Technically, it has a shot at history. As I went over in a similar story pegged to “Succession,” the current record for the most Emmys won by a series in a single season is 12, which “Game of Thrones” accomplished three times (in 2015, 2016, and 2019). Those first two years, it managed 12 wins from just 24 nominations (whereas the HBO juggernaut needed 32 nominations to reach the same win total in 2019).
The closest “Ted Lasso” has come to that record is seven wins for its first season. Season 2 nabbed just four trophies, making it hard to imagine the (maybe) final season reversing the downward trend and snagging nearly twice as many as its red-hot Emmy debut. But stranger things have happened, so let’s take a look at the nominations, one by one, and see which categories “Ted Lasso” actually deserves to win — and how many wins that adds up to in the end.
The Best Supporting Actress race represents an inversion, of sorts, of the typical case for “Ted Lasso.” In most other categories, the best argument to vote for the Apple TV+ breakout is simply because you like the people. You like Sam Richardson (nominated for Guest Actor), you like Sarah Niles (Guest Actress), and you like Jason Sudeikis (Lead Actor). But (spoiler alert) they’re not the most deserving winners because they didn’t put in the same level of consistently extraordinary work as their fellow nominees. Here, however, the most likeable candidate is (arguably) Ayo Edebiri of “The Bear.” Her character is incredibly endearing, and Edebiri herself is a charming young talent, both for what she’s done onscreen (Sydney, already a cast favorite, will only get better with additional screentime) and off. (Edebiri has written for “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Dickinson,” and her movie reviews on Letterboxd make her a must-follow).
But her performance isn’t the best of this year’s class. For one, Sydney isn’t explored as thoroughly as Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) or even Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). For another, “The Bear” belongs in the drama race — sorry, that’s just a fact — and, unlike her castmates, Edebiri is not asked to carry that many intense scenes. She’s a light comedic touch in a dramatic program, whereas Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple are given heavy workloads in an unmanageable third season of “Ted Lasso.” Despite the script hang-ups, their efforts elevate scenes to passable, even enjoyable levels, and Waddingham in particular remains impressive. I’d vote for her. She’s already won, but so has the other best performer (Sheryl Lee Ralph in “Abbott Elementary”), and some credit should be given to the “Ted Lasso” cast for creating bright moments in an extremely messy season.
Nah, “Ted Lasso” doesn’t need another Emmy here.
Theo Park won for the first season of “Ted Lasso,” so she’s already been given her due for putting together such a strong ensemble, and her additions in Season 3 don’t quite compare to what Susie Farris did with the uniquely challenging “Jury Duty” or Jeanie Bacharach’s incredible work on “The Bear.” (Remember: It’s nominated for Season 1, so this is its first shot at a Casting Emmy.)
Best Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour)
The only reason “Ted Lasso” even qualifies for this category is because its Season 3 episodes were way too long. There. I said it. It’s out of my system, and we can move on — since bloated episodes don’t really impact the quality of a series’ production design. Still, the time-based category shift didn’t do production designer Paul Cripps any favors. When it was still in the half-hour section of this category, “Ted Lasso” lost to “WandaVision” and “Only Murders in the Building” — two shows with more emphasis placed on their design elements, yet neither as ornate as what “Ted” is facing in 2023: “The Last of Us” built a brand new not-a-zombie universe, complete with mutating fungi and a country-spanning road trip. Speaking of road trips: “Poker Face’s” case-of-the-week episodic structure was supported by its lead character moving from one venue to the next, meeting unique people in artfully constructed environs. “Succession” is wealth porn, as is “The White Lotus,” and “Wednesday” is a Tim Burton production. Can “Ted Lasso” compete with any of those shows? Not really!
Best Contemporary Hairstyling
Perhaps I am the wrong person to analyze the quality of onscreen hairstyling — very rarely can I spot bad wigs — but I do not understand why “Ted Lasso” keeps getting nominated here. Their hair looks good! But the men’s coifs are unchanging and short. Rebecca and Keeley’s are great, but their ‘dos never strike me as particularly challenging. And when you think of “Ted Lasso” + “hair,” the first image that likely comes to mind is Nate’s way too on-the-nose transition from “sweet kid with simple black hair” to “Bond villain with shimmering gray locks.” Sorry, but this award belongs to a show that really goes for it — like “P-Valley” (or maybe “Emily in Paris”).
Best Guest Actor
Listen, I will never be upset over Sam Richardson winning an Emmy — never. It has to happen, and if it has to happen this year, for “Ted Lasso,” so be it. We can always pretend it’s for his indelible work on “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.” But if forced to choose who’s most deserving of the honor, it must be Oliver Platt. Perhaps a “Maisel” superfan could convince me to go with Luke Kirby — a “Rectify” veteran who will always have a soft spot in my heart — but Platt’s first season on “The Bear” hit so hard I’m surprised he qualified for Guest Actor. He’s a huge presence, with key moments — comedic and dramatic — all carried with the expertise of a Tony, SAG, and Emmy nominee. Give him the trophy.
Best Guest Actress
Not this year.
With apologies to Sarah Niles, Becky Ann Baker, and double-nominee Harriet Walter — not to mention likely winner Taraji P. Henson — this is Judith Light’s award. Her episode of “Poker Face” ranks highly thanks to Light’s go-for-broke turn (in conjunction with co-star S. Epatha Merkerson), and it’s frankly the most substantive role among the nominees. Plus, this is her fifth nomination, and she’s yet to win. Now is the time to fix that.
Best Music and Lyrics
Neither nominated song should win, sorry.
For a brief moment, I thought one of “Ted Lasso’s” two nominations was for the team’s rendition of “So Long, Farewell” from “The Sound of Music.” Thankfully, after I picked my jaw off the floor and re-read the nominations, it turns out that’s just the name of the episode in which the nominated song appears — and that song is “A Beautiful Game” by Ed Sheeran, which sounds like an impression of an Ed Sheeran song more than a standalone, heart-stirring, English anthem. It’s not even the best “Ted Lasso” song nominated, which would be “Fought & Lost” by Tom Howe, Jamie Hartman, and Sam Ryder (the credited performer) — a sweet little number that’s nevertheless eclipsed by the one and only correct choice here: Weird Al Yankovic’s “Now You Know.” Played over the closing credits of “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” the original song from our greatest living parody writer isn’t as face-meltingly brilliant as “My Bologna,” but it does feature lyrics like “How about that part when I died? / I was not expecting that” and “the union scale background singers sing!” Can anyone else compete? No, they cannot. Would they even feel right, winning over Weird Al? No, I can’t imagine they would.
Best Visual Effects in a Single Episode
This award must go to “The Nevers”! It MUST! How often do we get the chance to dole out an Emmy to a show that was canceled in the court of public opinion and canceled twice by its own network? How often do we get a chance to give an Emmy to a show that originated on HBO and ended on TUBI — within the very same season? “The Nevers” being nominated for an Emmy is absolutely wild, and now, its legacy must be fulfilled. Sorry. I don’t make the rules.
Not a chance.
Frankly, I would be more than fine with Declan Lowney topping Tim Burton, since the direction in “Wednesday” is part of the esteemed “Edward Scissorhands” helmer’s “phone it in” phase, which started sometime after “Alice in Wonderland” (with exceptions for “Big Eyes” and maybe “Frankenweenie”). But Bill Hader is nominated here, marking his fourth nod for “Barry”… and he’s never won. Insane. Just insane. Give him his damn Emmy already!
Editing is an art-form much broader than trimming shots, scenes, and episodes. It’s creative problem-solving, narrative construction (and reconstruction), performance assessment, technical assessment, and a continual push and pull between giving a director/showrunner/producer what they want, and giving them what they don’t know they want. There’s so much that goes into great editing, that it’s often difficult to judge what’s “best,” simply because it’s designed to be nearly invisible. Often, the most noticeable edits draw the most attention, but the best editors are typically the ones who keep the attention on the narrative — who immerse you so fully in the story being told that you don’t stop to think about how they did it until much, much later.
By this understanding of editing, “Ted Lasso” Season 3 does not pass muster. I would vote for “What We Do in the Shadows,” myself, but if “Barry” or “The Bear” were to win, that’s fine. “Ted,” despite its two nominations, would rank near the bottom of the list, mainly because I couldn’t help but ponder the construction of each shot, scene, and episode every time I tuned in — very little of what’s onscreen coalesces, or even makes sense, and while there are a million reasons why that can happen, I can’t see how such disarray can exhibit great editing.
For similar reasons as the Best Editing category, “Ted Lasso” is out of its depth here. So many of Season 3’s most dramatic moments happen offscreen, for one, and what does make it in front of the camera is rarely as efficient, clever, or moving as what we’ve seen from past seasons. Even if we exclude the funky seasonal structure and focus only on the nominated episode — the finale — it doesn’t stack up against “Barry’s” bold ending or “The Bear’s” propulsive pilot.
Best Music Supervision
Sorry, but no.
“Daisy Jones and the Six” is a terrible limited series — truly among the worst nominated for multiple Emmys — but its music is excellent. They spent gobs of cash licensing existing tunes and managed to write original music that could live up to those classics, so I’d give Frankie Pine the award. That being said, “The White Lotus” (Gabe Hilfer) and “Stranger Things” (Nora Felder) are respectable picks, too. (Felder’s nominated episode brings back “Running Up That Hill,” only this time it’s mixed with the show’s theme song — great touch.)
Best Lead Actor
Jason Sudeikis is the back-to-back champ in this category, and while I’m concerned a three-peat is in store, I can’t root for it to happen — not when Bill Hader (also a two-time winner) and Jeremy Allen White (for Season 1 of “The Bear”) are both eligible. Judged on performance alone, Sudeikis did fine work in Season 3, but his submitted episode (the finale) isn’t nearly as strong as the penultimate entry, “Mom City,” and his work in the latest season doesn’t quite compare to how lived-in he made Ted from the jump (in Season 1) or how beautifully he expanded the character (in Season 2). Give this to White, a deserving first-time winner.
Best Comedy Series
No, “Ted Lasso” obviously does not deserve this.
Best Supporting Actor
Yes, I actually think “Ted Lasso” should win this.
To be honest, there’s a case to be made for just about everyone in this category. Brett Goldstein provides the most joy with the fewest syllables of any nominee. Anthony Carrigan created one of modern television’s most iconic comedy characters, and he’s yet to be rewarded for it. Every week, Tyler James Williams manages to make us forget he’s playing Jim Halpert 2.0. Ebon Moss-Bachrach bursts off the screen from moment one of “The Bear.” James Marsden gives the best performance of anyone who’s ever played a jerky James Marsden, and Henry Winkler is Henry Winkler! Whoever wins, there’s a good reason for it.
…but Phil Dunster is the only one without an attached caveat. Henry Winkler already won. James Marsden is funny, but is he as funny as Timothy Olyphant as Timothy Olyphant in “The Grinder” or Carl Weathers as Carl Weathers in “Arrested Development”? (Answer: No, he is not.) Ebon Moss-Bachrach deserves an Emmy for “The Bear” Season 2, not Season 1 (and Season 1 is what he’s up for this year). Tyler James Williams is great, but the Janine/Gregory will they/won’t relationship feels too manufactured — it doesn’t click in the same exciting way as their banter with coworkers, and some of that absence is on the performers. Brett Goldstein also won already, and Anthony Carrigan… well, OK — there’s no caveat attached to a Carrigan win, but this is a story about “Ted Lasso” at the Emmys, so I’ll give Dunster the bump.
He finally got the nomination he’s deserved since Season 1, and he got it for his best season yet. Jamie Tartt came alive when buddied up with Roy Kent, and he literally hit from the start of the season (when he pronounced “poopy” like “ube” — ooo-bay) to the end (when he gets in a great slapstick fight with Roy). I’d be very, very happy for Mr. Dunster if he pulled off the win, and I can’t say that for many other “Ted Lasso” nominees. Obviously.
Final Tally: “Ted Lasso” should win two (2) Emmys at the 2023 Emmy Awards (out of 15 categories and 21 nominations). Honestly, it’s more than I would’ve guessed before writing this.