I think it takes a special kind of show to actually pull off a moment that is both ludicrously funny and heartbreakingly sad at the same time. I don’t think I have ever found myself watching a TV show that managed both at the same time, but dammit, Ted Lasso somehow pulled it off.
I probably shouldn’t be too surprised. I’ve noted in the past that series producer Bill Lawrence managed to switch gears from comedy to drama very well with Scrubs, so it stands to reason he can do so here. I think what makes it work better with Ted Lasso is Lawrence and his writers are maybe just more experienced at that sort of thing and can actually do a better job of pulling it off. Or he has better writers. That’s a pretty good possibility too. God knows I like Jason Sudeikis a heck of a lot more than Zach Braff.
The thing that sets this moment off is a series of moments that build toward the moment. The episode opens with Sam and Rebecca enjoying, let’s say, fun times, and while the relationship with Sam doesn’t last past the end of the episode, it does provide some good comedic fodder with Keeley, Sassy, and Rebecca’s mom all figuring out one way or the other who Rebecca’s been shagging lately in the least appropriate place possible, namely the backroom of a church during a funeral. But maybe it’s because I was riding my stationary bike during the episode and I slipped the closed captioning on and I could actually understand what Keeley was saying, but I picked up more this time. And this is still a comedy show, so whether its Dani’s suffering as he wears dress shoes for the first time in his life, Roy’s complete lack of respect for anything like funeral etiquette or respecting his girlfriend’s last wishes, or Coach Beard’s morbid side coming out as he video chats with Jane while both are wishing the funeral is open casket.
Oh, but the funeral is for Rebecca’s father.
And Ted, well, he comes late because he has a panic attack.
So, after learning that Rebecca’s mom likes blasting Rick Astley all over the house, and after Dr. Sharon has to go see Ted, a lot comes spilling out that, as the episode is set up in a certain way, looks like Rebecca learned her father was cheating on her mother on the exact same day Ted discovered his father’s suicide, a moment that forever tainted their father’s image for both Ted and Rebecca, and even more or less says that’s why Ted compliments everyone: he thinks if his dad knew what a good dad he was, he wouldn’t have killed himself.
That actually feels like something a real world person in Ted’s shoes might do, actually. Good on the show for doing that.
Regardless, the good moment comes when Rebecca, reluctantly, goes to give the eulogy, and despite the fact she seems to have hated her father, she opts to say something…and it’s the lyrics to “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It’s not a funeral appropriate song, and it acts as a great call-back to earlier in the episode. So, that’s the funny. Then the heartbreaking kicks in when she can’t go any further until Ted, arriving late, sings the next lyric and encourages the entire congregation to help Rebecca finish.
I don’t think a sitcom has hit me with that meany feelings all at once, well, ever. Good work, Ted Lasso.