But what people miss Parks and Recreation is the darkness that lingers just beneath the surface, darkness that reveals corrupt and incompetent governments, venal corporations, and insignificant and vengeful people. The fact that the characters were able to overcome these external and internal forces episode after episode gave the series its irrepressible spirit.
In 2010, humor researchers (yes, it’s a thing) Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren proposed what they called the comedy’s “benign injury” theory. Basically, things become funny when they violate our sense of order, but in a way that we don’t find threatening.
Not threatening Teddy Lasso certainly is. But I’ve felt more hurt during a routine hug with my mom. Watching punch lines served as if they were a scoop of vanilla soft serve reminds me of comedian Russell Howard describing his creative process: “You’re not a joke!” “But I’m dressed like one!”
And lest things get too frivolous, the show is always ready to neutralize the mood with a classic oh-gee lassoism, such as, “If you care about someone and you’ve got a little bit of love in your heart, there is.” nothing for you can’t get through together,” a line of emptiness so boundless it feels like it’s breaking physics.
That’s where you get the feeling Teddy Lasso reaches for a point about kindness and vulnerability and the need for men to show more of both, but the show’s built-in dislike for anything resembling darkness means it’s delivered with the effect of a ’90s after-school Specials for protected teenagers.
But the really annoying thing about it Teddy Lasso‘s much-lauded attempt to make a point is that we’re in a golden age of meaningful comedy. Shows how Reservation Dogs, Fleabag, This Way Up, I May Destroy You, Barry, Atlanta, we’re lady parts And bad sisters (to name a few) all offer emotionally nuanced, finely balanced portrayals of flawed characters grappling with some of the most profound issues of our time.
These shows understand that good comedy, like all good art, helps us make sense of the world and make sense of the incomprehensible. Bad comedy, like all bad art, presents us with a limp and unquestioned reflection of that world and then makes you want to burn it down along with everyone in it.
I might have fewer problems with that Teddy Lasso if it didn’t so obviously see the trappings of importance in itself. It’s easy to imagine the cast and crew looking at each other after a day’s work and whispering, “We’re making the world a better place.”
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t you. Paralyzed by his reckless devotion to niceness, the promise of an episode of Teddy Lasso is less a collective improvement than taking one 30 minutes closer to the blessed oblivion of sleep. And perhaps that was a worthwhile endeavor while the hardships of the pandemic era have robbed us of so much that was bright and familiar. But it certainly isn’t comedy.
Teddy Lasso Season 3 will stream on Apple TV+ starting March 15.
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https://www.smh.com.au/culture/tv-and-radio/ted-lasso-is-nice-but-there-s-no-way-it-s-good-comedy-20230306-p5cpru.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Here, But Will It Be Funny?