‘Ted Lasso’ Battles Toxic Masculinity

by Frank Martin

Ted Lasso has already been raved about from one end of the internet to the next. There’s no need to go into its success as a feel-good drama wrapped in laugh-out-loud comedy. The show’s character relationships are top notch and each unique interaction is coupled with layers of subtext that make for good storytelling. But the show should also be applauded for the individual cores of the characters themselves. It’s easy spot the female characters as strong, independent, and driven to craft their own narrative. That’s obvious. But it is the show’s male characters that fly under the radar and should be equally noted.

We live in an age where the term “toxic masculinity” is thrown around on a daily basis. The concept of masculinity in media has evolved through the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s largely unchecked. It is this unrestricted behavior that has given rise to a toxicity that bleeds into society. The backlash comes from a misunderstanding of what toxic masculinity actually means. Critics often point to bad behavior as examples. But it’s hard to convince someone of a negative. It’s a lot easier to point to a positive. This is where Ted Lasso shines.

Instead of a cautionary tale of what toxic masculinity can be it is a shining light of what healthy masculinity is. The show is about soccer players, manly men who pride themselves on their toughness. Nobody would dispute the fact that these guys lack any sort of masculinity. But they are also examples of kindness and caring. Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) himself might not be the biggest macho man in the room. In fact, his whole appeal is his unabashed optimism, yet throughout the show he makes a point never to back down from a fight or a challenge. He still stands up for himself and for those he cares about. And that’s what true masculinity is. It’s the ability to be strong when needed yet acknowledge your vulnerabilities. And this show deserves all the praise it’s getting for highlighting that.

Ted Lasso is now streaming on AppleTV+.

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