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Sometimes you binge-watch a show and feel like a different person afterward. It’s the way I felt after watching Ben propose to Leslie on Parks and Recreation; it’s the reason why I cried for nearly all 45 minutes of the series finale of The Good Place. Both of these shows have heart, and after watching almost five hours of Ted Lasso Friday evening, I must add it to the list of my favorite television shows. What’s even more impressive, Ted Lasso provides a roadmap for men with examples of positive masculinity throughout.
Ted Lasso, the character, is one of the most heartwarming, genuine characters to ever grace streaming television. He’s inspiring, empathetic, and an all-around positive male role model. Heck, Lasso even inspired me to grow a mustache (much to Rachel’s chagrin). After sitting with the Apple TV exclusive for a couple of days, I realized just how impactful this show could be from a masculinity standpoint.
While there are few things more inspiring than an impactful coach, Lasso exemplifies what positive masculinity is all about: empathy, courage, and dedication to growth. So if you haven’t watched Ted Lasso yet, go sign up for Apple TV and get to watching. But if you’re like me and you’ve already binged through season 1, then keep reading to find out 7 examples of positive masculinity from Ted Lasso.
What does it mean to be a male role model?
Male role models, what does that mean? Men are often placed into leadership positions: fatherhood, coaching, etc. And while we often instinctively understand our roles as mentors, we struggle to identify the qualities necessary to be a role model.
One of the anchor points of positive masculinity is the importance of being a good mentor for other men. Show off healthy behaviors for other men to see and then emulate—guide men through example.
We’ve seen motivational coaches on television, but never a character like Ted Lasso that embodies all of the heart, motivational-energy, and positive masculine traits that make for a great human being. But to really highlight why Ted Lasso is one of the best role models for men on television, it’s essential I highlight 7 examples of positive masculinity from the show.
Who is Ted Lasso?
In 2013, NBC Sports snagged the rights to air Premier League Football across the United States. For the first time ever (let’s just say Fox Sports coverage always left something to be desired), Americans could follow their favorite team, game by game, entirely for free. To promote their latest acquisition, NBC Sports recruited SNL alum Jason Sudekis to play Ted Lasso, an American Football coach, as the newest coach for Tottenham Hotspurs.
Needless to say, the hilarious video went viral, Premier League viewership in America increased, and every soccer fan in America was quoting Lasso. The next year, Lasso returned with another great video as a fish out of water in European football.
And then, after six years of silence, Apple TV announced a season order for Ted Lasso, from Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and Sudekis himself. The show would follow along with the same storyline as the viral shorts: Lasso is an American football coach hired to take over a Premier League team. Lasso premiered to a quiet audience with expectations low (as well as sign-ups for Apple TV). As more viewers started catching up with the show, suddenly Ted Lasso was everywhere. Articles on The Ringer. The Wall Street Journal. Even an article that describes the Ted Lasso way.
Somehow a meme-worthy, viral video clip turned into one of the most outstanding displays of positive masculinity on television, thanks in part to Bill Lawrence’s writing and the brilliance of Sudekis’s heartfelt performance.
7 Examples of positive masculinity from Ted Lasso.
Warning: The following section will include spoilers for season 1 of Ted Lasso.
For more information about positive masculinity, check out our article on everything you need to know about positive masculinity.
1. Community is at the core of a healthy life.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of male friendship and the benefits of being a part of a community of like-minded dudes. Lasso exemplifies all of that through more traditional, expected outlets and a couple of unexpected experiences as well.
Let’s start with Lasso’s relationship with the only other American to travel across the Atlantic with him, Coach Beard. We don’t know who Lasso’s best friend is, but we know that Coach Beard is one of his most loyal. From the show’s opening scenes, viewers can see the connection between Lasso and Beard. But there’s a couple of moments that, to me, are genuinely symbolic of their relationship and highlights why male friendship is an example of positive masculinity.
The first comes right after one of the most pivotal scenes in the series where Lasso and his wife agree to a divorce. Obviously heartbroken, the last shot of the episode is not of Lasso alone. As Lasso walks towards a nearby park bench, Coach Beard comes over with a beer and sits next to him. That moment of camaraderie, of male friendship, is at the core of positive masculinity: community is key to a healthy life. Later on in the series, when Beard goes through a break-up of his own, who do you think is the first person there? Lasso, of course.
But by the middle of the season, Lasso and Beard had recruited two more members into their healthy masculine community: former kit-man named coach Nathan and Higgins. After an impromptu chat, the four men name themselves “The Diamond Dogs.” Just watch how they all come together when called upon to help out another AFC Richmond member.
That’s not even getting into the community and team-building exercises Lasso pulls off throughout the show. That will be an article I save for season 2, though. You should now understand that the community of folks Lasso keeps close to him highlights the importance of male friendship as an example of positive masculinity.
2. Letting go isn’t giving up.
In one of my favorite scenes from Scrubs, J.D. monologues to the camera, “I think the easiest way to lose something is to want it too badly.” For some reason, that line, that moment of J.D. out in the cold by a taxi, resonated with me.
Similarly enough, there’s a moment like that for Lasso after he and his wife agree to divorce. In tears, Lasso tells his wife, “I promised myself I’d never quit anything in my life.” His wife assures him he’s not quitting; he’s just letting her go. And at that moment, an example of positive masculinity shines.
Far too often, men see letting go as a weakness. They equate it with quitting or giving up when that’s not the truth. I experienced something similar when I left education: I believed I was giving up on all of my students and failing them. But again, let me reiterate that it’s not true. Letting go of something, whether it’s a relationship, a friendship, or even a negative personality trait, isn’t a weakness. It’s strength.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. There’s no use in beating ourselves up over it. Feel your emotion and understand that an example of positive masculinity is learning how to let go of the things you love sometimes.
3. Be positive.
Whether it’s 20,000 AFC Richmond fans calling him a wanker in front of his family or the preppy, young goal scorer giving him attitude, the one constant throughout Lasso’s career is his unrelenting positivity. And that’s a lesson all men can learn from. An example of positive masculinity from Ted Lasso is that when faced with adversity, no matter the odds, Lasso always finds a way to be positive.
Coaching a football team with no experience (or understanding of the rules)? Lasso is positive. A heartbreaking loss at the end of the season? Still positive. Far too often, when faced with a difficult challenge, our first instinct is aggression, anger, or just straight negativity. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is patience and a little positivity.
Try this the next time you’re upset or angry. To steal a bit from Tony Robbins, “Change your physiology, change your life.” All that means is when you’re at a crossroads, or frustrated, or really anything other than positive, turn on one of your favorite songs. Dance. Be goofy. I promise you that if you commit 100% and are willing to put down your walls, you’ll find yourself smiling in no time.
It’s that positivity that leads to healthy forms of masculinity. It allows us to reflect on our emotions without ruminating. Most importantly, it will enable us to grow as human beings. And isn’t that why we’re all here?
4. Lift up others before yourself.
Ted Lasso’s unselfishness has already shown itself throughout this list (i.e., letting go of his failing marriage). Still, I want to highlight the example of positive masculinity was how often Lasso put those around him first. Take Nate, the kitman who was ignored by everyone. Lasso brings Nate into the fold in an instantaneous moment culminating in a promotion. It would have been easy to blame the team’s failings on someone below him, but instead, Lasso made sure Nate was treated better than when he started.
Or what about Jaime Tart? Remember the last game of the season, Tart finally listened to Lasso’s advice and made the previous pass, thus relegating AFC Richmond down to the Championship? And of course Lasso’s note to Tart for the bus ride home?
Again, it’s a moment where Lasso lifted up someone else, a player who disrespected him. Still, Lasso knew the best way to be a leader was to put others before himself. That turned into a teachable lesson for the last game of the season when locker room leader and captain Roy Kent realized his career was coming to an end. Kent passes on the captain’s armband to a teammate, and even though it hurts, he lifts up a teammate before himself to help the team.
When searching for examples of positive masculinity from Ted Lasso, one of the most obvious is his understanding of helping others before yourself. That doesn’t mean to ignore your own needs and wants. But when a teammate, a partner, or a friend requires assistance, be there for them. Lift them up. Show them how much you care.
5. Be an empathetic leader.
While writing about the benefits of emotional courage, it struck me how much empathetic leadership makes for better bosses, coaches, and mentors. And that’s why Lasso’s use of compassionate leadership is one of the best examples of positive masculinity from the show.
Empathetic leadership is a form of leadership that requires an understanding of interpersonal relationships and emotions. In the case of Lasso, he needed to be empathetic towards a group of football players who didn’t respect him. But of course, like any good coach, Lasso figured out how to get the best out of all of his players.
Take Sam, for example. After a rough game, Lasso sat Sam down and told him, “Be a goldfish.” Basically, forget about that game, and think about the next one. Lasso understood what Sam needed at that moment and was the leader he needed to be. Or what about his pep talk with Jaime early on in the season? He recognized that to get the best out of his star player, Lasso needed to reinforce some positive feedback. And by the end of the season, it paid off.
Being a hard-ass or a drill-instructor like coach isn’t going to get you far as a leader. Instead, focus on empathetic leadership and emotional courage as a way to bridge gaps between you and the people around you.
6. Vulnerability is a strength.
In my chat with “Coach Dave,” we agreed that vulnerability is a strength, especially in coaching. As an example of positive masculinity, Lasso injects vulnerability throughout the season. None more so than the last speech after the previous game.
Choked up but still emotionally present, Lasso reminds everyone that something is worse than being sad. It’s being sad and alone. And that no one in that locker room was alone. Showing emotions doesn’t make you weak; it makes you stronger. Most importantly, it allows you to learn how to empathize with others and grow.
A great example to follow is Daniel Coyle’s “Vulnerability Loops.”
“Vulnerability loops seem swift and spontaneous, but they all follow the same steps:
1. Person A sends a signal of vulnerability.
2. Person B detects this signal.
3. Person B responds by signaling their own vulnerability.
4. Person A detects this signal.
5. A norm is established; closeness and trust increase.”
When looking at Ted Lasso as an example of positive masculinity, think about how he uses vulnerability to build connections with others. That’s how you develop close male friendships and live a more fulfilling life.
7. Be Curious, Not Judgmental.
Instead of writing out another example of positive masculinity, I want to just share this speech. It speaks louder than anything I could write about this lesson.
Did you finish Ted Lasso? Any examples of positive masculinity that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.