ATTENTION: this episode contains spoilers for season 2, episode 3 of Ted Lasso.
You’re going to want to stop and pay special attention to episode three when watching the new season of Ted lasso on Apple TV +.
It primarily focuses on the unique power of activism and protest in sports. Although generally known as a light and easy-to-watch show, ther episode wasn’t afraid to swing a little bigger on this one. The creators were inspired by people like Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Rio Ferdinand in the Premier League as well as people like Colin Kaepernick in the NFL.
This particular episode was a one-off episode directed by Ezra Edelman, the Oscar-winning director of the documentary. JO: Made in America.
“He was the perfect director for this episode because he was able to help us find the nuance between what would be a precious gesture and what would be a performative alliance”, explained Brendan Hunt, a Ted lasso writer and co-creator who also plays the role of Coach Beard. “We wanted to find a way that doesn’t force and reflects the current atmosphere where athletes use their voices more. “
Ashley Nicole Black, former writer and correspondent on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee who acts and writes now A black lady sketch show on HBO, wrote the episode.
Once the creative team was put together, they had to decide who was protesting – and why they were upset. They landed on a plot involving Sam Obisanya and their fictional jersey sponsor, Dubai Air.
Toheeb Jimoh, a young British actor who plays Sam on the show and supports Manchester United in real life, was elated when Jason Sudeikis sent him a WhatsApp message telling him he would star in this episode.
“I am a huge believer and a huge fan of the people who use their platform to inspire change,” Jimoh said at a recent press conference for Ted lasso. “I think political activism in sport, and in everything you do in front of the public, is extremely important and I support it 100%.”
In the episode, Sam gets the opportunity to be the face of Dubai Air’s new ad campaign.
The showrunners moved to Dubai Air because it would have been more difficult to make a protest on a topic with a real enemy. Ultimately, they thought it would be more powerful to have a less specific face as the antagonist while still drawing inspiration from all the horrific and real consequences of corporate greed, oil spills and corruption. .
Before Sam learns all of this, however, he is massively flattered and he wants to campaign. His teammates are also excited about it and offer him sweet ribs and a joke about degrading the ad with childish graffiti once it is posted at the subway station.
Excited as we saw on the floor, Sam shares the update with his family. But his father quickly tells him that Dubai Air is owned by an oil company that is destroying the environment in Nigeria and preventing people from living and surviving there.
His father’s text reads: “Seeing you choose to be a buddy for a company that has ruined the lives of so many people breaks my heart.“
It’s absolutely devastating how quickly Sam’s energy goes from jubilation to crushing. However, that’s also what makes this episode so authentic. While the plot touches on activism, it also keeps Sam’s arc and development at heart.
“This is a character facing new knowledge that puts him in a very awkward position,” said Brett Goldstein, a screenwriter on the show who also plays Roy Kent. “It’s a very relatable thing where – you can call it ignorance – but he didn’t know what he was a part of. Most people don’t. But once he has the knowledge, what do you do with that knowledge? It’s a challenge we all face at some point in this life. “
The decision to focus this episode on Sam is particularly fascinating because when we meet him in the first season, we got small ideas of his potential inclinations for political activism.
I started watching TED LASSO. Ted gives some army toy soldiers as inspiration to his team. Young Nigerian player Sam declines with a smile, saying: The US military doesn’t have the same feeling in me.
It was unexpected!
– Viet Thanh Nguyen (@viet_t_nguyen) August 5, 2021
In the second episode of the series, Ted gives Sam a little green tin soldier as a birthday present to keep him safe. Sam refuses, however, offering a polite but very stern statement that he does not have the same appreciation for the US military or, more specifically, the symbols of US imperialism.
Fast forward to season two and Sam has to decide if he can promote a company like Dubai Air – can he take his money, have his name on his chest, or even play for a team that does?
Fortunately, he plays for a team with an incredibly empathetic coach. Time and time again, we’ve seen Lasso’s leadership reflected as someone who supports the team and its goals rather than dictating what those goals should be. It allows for more nuance and acceptance than it would have in most real professional sports teams.
“Because of the nourishment he has received from Ted and the support he has received, he feels comfortable enough to take a stand,” Jimoh said. “I just think it’s great. It’s a testament to the work Ted did with his team.
Ultimately, in a highlight, Sam decides to take some black duct tape and cover up the Dubai Air logo. He tells his teammates about the horrors of the company, which has turned his home into a “hellish and flaming swamp” and he will never wear their names on his chest again.
The central question of the episode then becomes whether the team would support him while he continues this manifestation.
First, his Nigerian-born teammates seize the tape and decide to join him. Sam tells the rest of his team that they don’t have to join him but – in a charge led by, of all people, Jamie Tartt – every player chooses to participate equally.
“It’s just an important message on the alliance. This is what you need. This is how we stand next to someone. This is how we stop, ”Jimoh said. “I think that’s why people don’t make these big stands. They are afraid of the backlash. They are afraid of being avoided because there is a version of this where Sam could have done this and the team could have removed it.
After the game, Ted allows Sam to take the microphone at the press conference to make the decision.
Sam told media he was not here to talk about the game, but rather to make a desperate appeal to the Nigerian government to end the decades of environmental destruction caused by the oil company that owns Dubai Air.
As they return to the locker room, Ted says something to Sam that sums up the episode pretty well: “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.
Overall, this episode is about Sam as a character and Jimoh as an actor, having the courage to find their voice. Reflecting on the episode with For The Win, Jimoh couldn’t help but be moved. He pointed out how grateful he was to Sudeikis and the other showrunners for trusting him to handle the script.
“They decided it was important for them to show that and to have a young black man to take on that responsibility, especially in the days where we are now.
“I can’t defend them enough.”