It’s the good-natured fish-out-of-water comedy that has become a worldwide hit, thanks to the irrepressible positivity of its cheerful main character.
But when Ted Lasso returned for his third, and likely final, series on Apple TV+ last week, there’s only been one question on fans’ minds: what the hell is wrong with Ted?
The exploits of the charmingly optimistic but woefully inexperienced American who struggles to coach the fictional London soccer club AFC Richmond often delight viewers, but many have been put off by an unexpectedly pessimistic tone in the opening episode. “Boring,” one fan called it.
And here may be a good reason for that, since the private life of its star, writer and executive producer Jason Sudeikis was in turmoil while the series was being made. At the time he was in a bitter feud with his ex, actress Olivia Wilde, who had left him for former One Direction star Harry Styles.
Shortly after the new Ted Lasso series began filming in London last year, custody papers were handed over to Ms Wilde by lawyers acting for former comedian Sudeikis while she was on set in Las Vegas.
Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde attending the Don’t Worry Darling red carpet at the 79th Venice International Film Festival.
Photo: Jason Sudeikis. The exploits of the charmingly optimistic but woefully inexperienced American who struggles to coach the fictional London soccer club AFC Richmond often delight viewers, but many have been put off by an unexpectedly pessimistic tone in the opening episode. “Boring,” one fan called it.
She criticized the “outrageous legal tactics” which she said were “clearly intended to threaten me…he chose to serve me in the most aggressive manner possible.”
The couple’s acrimonious split came in late 2020, when Apple execs ordered the third series of the comedy and realized they had a hit on their hands. Sudeikis, now 47, and Wilde, 39, have been together for nearly a decade and have a son, Otis, now eight, and a daughter, Daisy, six.
Just weeks after they announced their supposedly ‘amicable’ split, Wilde was photographed holding hands with Styles, who is a decade her junior, and they met on the set of their film Don’t Worry Darling.
Sudeikis, who was said to be heartbroken at the time, seems to have drawn from his agony to inspire Ted Lasso, as his character went through a divorce, which strained his relationship with his son. At the end of last week’s episode, he found out that his ex-wife is dating a new man.
Last night, a source who knows both Sudeikis and Wilde said: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the drama in his private life could spill over onto the page.” The entire narrative of the new series speaks of the pain of a marital breakdown.’
However, ‘pain’ is not what the fans are tuning in to. At the Prince’s Head pub in Richmond, south-west London, which also acts as The Crown and Anchor on the show, an onlooker lamented on Friday: “I’ve never felt so down watching a sitcom.”
The change in tone did not escape television critics, who have advanced the first four chapters of the new series. The Washington Post noted that the “main character is stuck” and said the show was afloat. “Ted is already gone, whether he realizes it or not,” wrote critic Lili Loofbourow. And Los Angeles writer Valerie Ettenhofer said the show “is more likely to make viewers cry than laugh.”
Pictured: Actors Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis. The private life of Ted Lasso star, writer and executive producer Jason Sudeikis was in turmoil while the series was being made. At the time he was in a bitter feud with his ex, actress Olivia Wilde, who had left him for former One Direction star Harry Styles.
Following her highly publicized split from Wilde, Sudeikis began dating Ted Lasso’s co-star Keeley Hazell, the former glamor model who plays Bex on the series. However, they, too, reportedly parted ways shortly after filming began last year, and at the launch of the new series in Los Angeles last month they were seen to be keeping their distance.
But it seems his split from Wilde has cast a long shadow. One studio executive called their breakup “the biggest shit show since Brangelina,” a reference to the scandal that engulfed Brad Pitt when he left his wife Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie in 2005.
“Jason is well-liked in Hollywood,” the source added. “He’s someone who worked his way up the ranks before he hit it big with Ted Lasso. The show has become so important that Tim Cook (Apple CEO) attended the launch party. Everyone felt sorry for Jason when his private life became the stuff of tabloids.
Another source described how the split was “a difficult time for Olivia and Jason,” but insisted the reality wasn’t as toxic as many believed.
“There was a lot of drama, but much of it was sparked by social media,” they said. “It was just one negative headline after another. But they always put the needs of their children first.
A friend of Sudeikis says he has now moved on emotionally after his breakup with Wilde.
The couple were recently photographed in Los Angeles, prompting speculation that they might even have reunited, though The Mail on Sunday was told: “That’s not the case.” Olivia and Jason remain good friends and are committed to the welfare of their children.’
Representatives for Sudeikis, who is worth £25m, declined to comment, but a source said: “He is busy promoting the show.” The noise and drama were distracting, but Jason is in a great place. He is happy and looking to the future.’