Fans of the Apple TV behemoth “Ted Lasso” show don’t just watch the show, and we don’t just watch the show once. We’ll binge watch all three seasons countless times, looking for puzzles, looking for clues, I mean, why does Isaac count to 12 and skip 8, and why so many “Cheers” references snuck in? What is the significance of the number 1,236?
(I have my own personal theory on that last one and will share it at the end of this post just for fun, Tod Rundgren.)
I mean, “Ted Lasso” watchers are maniacs, myself included. And, with good reason. Television shows this good do not litter our cultural landscape. They are occasions. The writing is excellent. (Rebecca: Oh, do you believe in ghosts, Ted? Ted: I do. But more importantly, I believe they need to believe in themselves.) or (Beard: We have a saying in Codependents Anonymous. The room: What? Beard: Oh, Jane makes me go with her.) The characters, each of them, well developed and greatly acted, from Ted himself to Paul, Basil and Jeremy.
What’s astonishing is the origins of this project. SNL alum Jason Sudeikis started it as a jokey way to promote NBC Sports’ coverage of England’s Premier League.
I mean, he and his writers could have left it there, but they didn’t. They somehow saw more in the concept. They developed it. They altered its tone (Sudeikis has said that part of this was indeed a reaction to his witnessing our increasingly hostile political climate). By 2020, “Ted Lasso” was fully realized and running on Apple TV. From that silly promo to a beloved, scrutinized television program. It’s quite a feat.
Some of those responsible: Writer and producer Bill Lawrence, previously creator of “Scrubs” and co-creator of “Cougar Town,” and “Spin City.” Jason Sudeikis, SNL writer and eventual cast member from 2003 to 2013, subsequently a film actor and eventually writer and producer on “Ted Lasso.” Brendan “Coach Beard” Hunt, theater student and Second City and Boom Chicago alum, film actor, and creator of his own one-man show, performed in Edinburgh, Aspen, Chicago, and New York. And, SNL writing staff alum Joe Kelly, also a writer and story editor on “How I Met Your Mother.”
I summarize the “Ted Lasso” creators’ credits because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the SAG-AFTRA strike.
For various reasons, summertime is my least favorite time of the year. It’s hot. The sun is entirely too bright. The air conditioning in my apartment is useless, and the cat won’t let me put it on most of the time anyway. And, there’s nothing on television to watch. I usually spend July and August sweating a lot and waiting for football to start.
The strike didn’t help. SNL wrapped sooner than it would have, and I’ve been driven to the milquetoast legal drama “Suits,” the show what gave us. Meghan Markle. But, then again, the future the studio bosses are presenting sure does seem bleak. I mean, doesn’t quality suffer without a full writers’ room for the entire life of a show? Where does the next “Ted Lasso” or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” come from if talented writers don’t get the experience of working on a show from start to finish, and if they’re getting paid peanuts? Not to mention if you can just spit a premise into a computer and have it barf out a script?
I note this morning that the Teamsters and UPS have come to an agreement. That is excellent; that strike really would have mucked up this incredible Biden economy. But I would have supported them, and I certainly support our writer and actor compadres. Am hoping these events portend a great wave for labor in this country.
Now, regarding 1,236. This is a number mentioned twice in season 2, episode 1, “Goodbye Earl.” It is mentioned once as the ongoing tally for Pheobe’s swear-penalties for her Uncle Roy. Keeley asks how much she’s accrued, and Pheobe says, “1,236 pounds,” to which Keeley replies, “impressive.” The second instance is in Ted’s office, where these screwballs are playing a game where they pass a crumpled up piece of paper. On her way out, Dr. Sharon Fieldstone asks what their record is. The reply is 1,236, to which the good doctor replies, “impressive.”
Ted Lasso fans are a little nuts, and all over the internet, we’ve been speculating over this number’s significance. Some say it’s a prime number, or something in numerology, blah, blah, blah. But I think I have the real poop on this one.
In 1972, running back Steve Jones, who would be that year’s Player of the Year in the ACC, became the first in Duke’s history to best a thousand yards in a season. His record: 1,236 yards.
Impressive. In fact, this record stood until it was beaten by Mataeo Durant in 2021. That, in my humble estimation, is the significance of this number in “Ted Lasso.”