On this episode of Unlocking Us
As the self-appointed president of the TLFC (Ted Lasso Fan Club), it was a blast to talk to Jason Sudeikis, the co-creator, writer and executive producer who plays Ted Lasso, and Brendan Hunt, the co-creator and writer who plays Coach Beard on the Apple TV+ hit series. The show follows the adventures of a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer. We talk about the show’s interesting origin story, writers’ room inspirations, and why intention is critical to the creative process. It’s a fun conversation about a show that is unapologetically awkward, brave, and kind.
Listen to the episode
Ted Lasso is an eponymous Apple TV+ series about a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer. In addition to starring in the series, Jason Sudeikis serves as executive producer, alongside Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”) via his Doozer Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television and Universal Television, a division of NBCUniversal Content. Doozer’s Jeff Ingold also serves as an executive producer with Liza Katzer as co-executive producer. The series was developed by Sudeikis, Lawrence, Joe Kelly and Brendan Hunt, and is based on the pre-existing format and characters from NBC Sports.
Production by Cadence13
Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown and this is Unlocking Us. In case you don’t know this, in addition to being the podcast host for Unlocking Us, I am also the self-appointed President of the Ted Lasso fan club. Ted Lasso is a show on Apple+, and it’s one of my favorite joys right now. It’s just so fun and big-hearted and funny. It’s interesting, because this is not the first time we’ve met Coach Ted Lasso. We first met Ted Lasso when he starred in a couple of NBC promos after NBC acquired the television rights to the English Premier Soccer League.
BB: So Jason Sudeikis played this kind of wide-eyed American college football coach who was hired to be the new manager for a big Premier Soccer League club and of course he knew nothing about soccer. These promos were so funny, especially if you know just a little bit about soccer but you still don’t understand “off-sides.” They’re just funny and both promos were really successful. They went viral, they helped NBC build its audience for the premier league games, and it introduced us to this guy that we really love.
BB: So now fast forward, six, seven years later, and Ted Lasso is a new show. The whole first season is now completely out. I had to watch them painfully drip slowly one at a time, like old school, but now, episodes one through 10, season one are out, and again, it’s just funny and smart and kind and thoughtful and just unapologetically goofy in the best way, and in this episode today on Unlocking Us, I’m going to talk to Jason Sudeikis, who plays the lead. He plays Ted Lasso, he’s also the co-creator, writer and executive producer and I get to talk to Brendan Hunt, who is also a co-creator, writer and he’s the actor who plays Coach Beard.
BB: It’s just a joyful thing for me to get to talk to these funny, smart guys about a show I love. Every time I watch it, I just… I’ll say, I’ll quote Ted Lasso right here for you, “I feel like I fell out of the lucky tree, hit every branch on the way down, and ended up in a pool of cash and sour patch kids.”
BB: So, for those of you who do not know Jason Sudeikis, he’s an actor, a comedian, a screenwriter and a producer. In the 1990s, he began his career in improv and performed with Comedy Sports and The Second City. In 2003, Sudeikis was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live and starred as a cast member from 2005 to 2013. He has been in a lot of movies that we all know, including Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers, and now he plays my much beloved Ted Lasso, and again, he’s also executive producer and co-creator and writer.
BB: Brendan Hunt is also an actor and a writer known for roles in the films We’re the Millers and Horrible Bosses 2, as well as voicing two characters in the video game, Fallout 4. After getting his theater degree, Hunt studied with the Second City in Chicago before heading to Amsterdam and joining the “Boom Chicago Comedy Troop.” He again is co-creator, writer, and he plays my very, just kind of heartthrob in the weirdest way, my “Coach Beard” on Ted Lasso. So very excited to jump into this conversation with Jason and Brendan.
BB: Alright, let me just start by saying that this morning, I was so excited, I’ve had 500 texts from my friends and my family members and Steve, my husband grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “I want you to hear me Brené,” and I was like “Oh, I hate it when you call me by my name. What?” and he said “They’re not real people, like you know? Brendan’s real and Jason’s real, but Beard and Ted, like they’re… Those are characters” and I said “I get it, I’m a grown-ass woman. I get that” and he’s… I was like “What is your concern?” And he’s like “Well, you’re wearing a Roy Kent jersey.”
BB: And I’m fearful because you talk to our kids like they’re real. Like you tell them “I need you to Ted Lasso up here.” Like “Pull a Beard right now. Just stay quiet and do the right next thing.” So I have to start, I couldn’t decide whether I was going to start by saying “Thank you” or “Congratulations,” but I’m going to start with gratitude. God, this show means so much to so many people. Do y’all know that?
Jason Sudeikis: I don’t. Brendan, do you? I know it means a lot to the people that made it. [laughter]
Brendan Hunt: I mean certainly Twitter suggests that… We don’t know how many people are actually watching it, but it does seem that people who are watching it sure do like it, but meaning to them, that’s a whole other level. Happy to hear more?
BB: Really? Are you like being humble? Or are you bullshitting me? Or do you really not know?
JS: It’s all anecdotal. I can only… Towards some of your… Previous work and struggling with people who are critical of you or singing your praises. I know for me personally, having been in the “spotlight” for X amount of years, you’re kind of like, if I’m not going to react to the negative, then how do I react to the positive? So there’s a little bit of me that will always make the excuses of like “Oh. We’re talking about a 1000 people on Twitter. People that are really fired up” and it doesn’t take anything away but still, you can’t quite quantify it because also, the dirty little secret is that streaming sites, it’s not like Nielsen ratings, where we don’t know how much people are really watching. They don’t give even us that information, much less trades or what have you or agents or managers and any of that stuff. So it’s more ignorance than humility. [laughter] Fine line, fine line.
BB: So… Yeah, no, fine line for sure but, okay, totally, because I have a special on Netflix, like I’ll just tell people who are watching this, you’ll never see that data, from the streaming services, but I want to talk more qualitatively as a qualitative researcher. Like when I go into, when I did… Just for preparation for this, a thematic analysis of the comments, I have about ten million people across all my social media platforms. When I look at the comments for Ted Lasso, because I really shouted it out in a podcast; I’ve written about it. There was one comment that said “Your TED talk and your books saved my marriage. Ted Lasso changed my life.” Then I’ll give you another example. So, I’m taking 150 top senior leaders through a leadership training and they’re… Most of them are now watching Ted Lasso as leadership instructive. Does this surprise y’all?
JS: Again, yes. Because you write a song, maybe to get something out of you and I’m not a songwriter by any means and Brendan, please, chime in here on your perspective, but you don’t anticipate anybody dancing to it at a party or at their wedding or anything like that. You don’t know, you just sort of have to get it out of you and you want to lay it down and you hope someone walks by and maybe glances at it, and that’s nice.
BB: So, when I read things like, on the comments like “It really has changed my life.” Or, I talked to a group of therapists before this call and said, “They’re all Ted Lasso fans. What do you think’s going on with this response?” They said three things. “Joy, possibility and goodness.” And so I’m so curious what y’all think about this response.
JS: Yeah. The thing that’s fascinating to me is that yeah, you come up with these ideas and myself, Brendan, and Joe in 2015 talked about this show and then Bill came into the fold in 2018, I want to say, but some of those are exactly things we talked about in regards… And it’s all rooted from the character, but you don’t, I just at this point in my life, don’t expect anybody to… When you set something down and you make something for them to respond to it in the exact way you had hoped. I think that’s so neat, but there was a lot of intentionality there and it’s rooted in a lot of things that I think people have always turned to for those type of things. Someone specifically like John Wooden and his teachings is very much a model for the Ted Lasso ethos, philosophy, point of view. Brendan, what do you think?
BH: It’s been interesting that there’s been some talk of… I’ve seen of people being like “Wow.” how we’ve constructed this character of Ted specifically to be this good person in this dark world and there’s some truth to that, but there’s also, in terms of what’s surprising about the reaction, is we kind of made what we think is a pretty normal guy, just in normal midwestern terms. He’s certainly, to some degree, the best of us, but he’s not, he was never thought of as a superhero. These are some folks that Jason met in Kansas are like this and folks that I met in Normal, Illinois, are like this and it’s just interesting that nowadays, yeah, that person seems like more unique and out there than Batman.
BB: No, you know what I think, I think this is really interesting. I just can’t turn the researcher in me off, because that’s just my jam.
JS: Go, do it, yeah, be you.
BB: I think it’s the fact that he is vulnerable and imperfect and he’s not superhuman, and it shows us that kindness is possible in very difficult situations. As a shame researcher, I can tell you, there’s a moment… And I’ve never done an interview like this around a TV show, so I don’t want to give it away because I think I need everybody to watch it so we can talk about it in its entirety later, but there is a scene where someone who is dealing with a ton of shame and pain has done what we all do with shame and pain, for the most part, has discharged it on someone else and then you’ve got Ted Lasso who’s like a freight train who just stops the shame and blame thing and leans into forgiveness and have we forgotten, do you think, that that’s not superhuman? That that possibility exists in all of us?
JS: I think we have forgotten that. I think that’s a big part of why it was thrilling for us to conceive and then execute, because it did feel like a modern-day aberration and yet, it’s rooted in DNA, sociologically. It can seem so trite, but there is such a bright, shining example on such the highest peak in this country and arguably in the world of ignorance and arrogance and Ted is ignorant and curious and I think curiosity comes from a power of being able to ask questions and truly empathize, see what someone else is dealing with and there’s people much more clever than myself that came up with all those great kind of quote “You never know what battle someone else is dealing with, everybody’s life is a comedy and a tragedy and a drama.” I think it was Mark Twain, and I just think Ted and our intention was for him to embody those things but to do it in a sincere and genuine way but yeah, I think we have forgotten it a little bit and it breaks down a discourse and an opportunity for dialogue and loving someone for who they are versus hating them for what they’re not.
BB: Oh God, yeah. So I have to ask so y’all spent a big old chunk of time in Amsterdam together early in your careers. Is that correct?
JS: Yes, but Brendan the most. How many years, Brendan, you were there?
BH: Five was my main chunk and then I piece-mealed a couple more afterwards because I just couldn’t let go.
JS: Yeah and then Joe was there for how long?
BH: Joe, two and a half or three?
JS: Yeah and then I was there for four or five months straight, and then… But off and on for a year, because I was dating a gal who was there so I would go visit but I knew everybody there and we were working at a sketch improv theater there called Boom Chicago. We weren’t just going over there being American tourists, we were adding to the vibe of the city in a positive way, but that was my takeaway.
BB: What was your takeaway, Brendan? Because I’m so curious about how this informed some of the tension that’s in Ted Lasso about being American in Europe.
BH: Well, there’s some specific language of yours that pre-resonated with me because when I moved there, I was in a very dark place, basically. I’ll move into the over-sharing part. Life of verbal child abuse. My mom was alcoholic, my dad was a Vietnam vet. They got divorced when I was two. I got married way too young, and then I got divorced and like I was just kind of a mess and then I got this opportunity to go to Amsterdam.
BH: In Amsterdam, the reigning philosophy of life is called Gezellighide. They want things to be Gezellig and to be Gezellig is a word with a lot of meanings. It can mean comfortable, like “the lighting here is really Gezellig.” But it also can just mean like, “Oh, let’s not be a bummer to each other, because that would be un-gezellig.” If there is a thing you are worried about, but you can’t change that thing by worrying about it, then why worry about that thing that will ruin your day? That would be un-gezellig. One way around it was saying I was defined by shame and guilt, and this is a society built to completely abandon shame and guilt, because they have seen that there’s not much point in that, and that was why I stayed so long because that was a message of phenomenal value and yeah, that’s what changed me. Because shame and guilt and, at least for a Chicago kid of lapsed Catholics, that’s America to me at the time and so it was cool to see a different option.
BB: Those were the patriotic emotions for sure over here [laughter] those are them and it’s really interesting too because we do research on what denomination and all the Catholics are like “We’re number one.” And the Southern Baptists are like hard roll them. They’re like “Oh no, sir. Southern Baptist, Number one.” It turns out that we’re all kind of jacked up on it across the board. So say that word again. I’ll never say that, I’ll never be able to say that.
BH: Gezellig. G-E-Z-E-L-L-I-G. It’s the same as in chutzpah.
BB: Okay. I see some of that vibe in Ted Lasso.
JS: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. For what it’s worth, Ted Lasso, yes, I play him, he is a guy in the show but it’s also… The thing we talked about; it is a vibe. It’s a vibe. Ted Lasso is like a vibe. You know what I mean? So it always gets a little tricky for me when talking about Ted Lasso, because it feels like I’m almost talking in the third-person but I mean it for every… It sprinkles down for every character. Like the opening titles that the company that came up with those, the idea of Ted sitting in a chair and then changing the environment around him it’s… Ted is more of a white rabbit than a white knight. He sort of leads you to the thing and leads by example, almost like Michael Landon in Highway to Heaven, or Della Reese in Touched by an Angel, where it’s just like I always loved the characters that I grew up with in the 80’s. Bill Murray doesn’t have an arc in Ghostbusters;
JS: It’s like the city of New York City believes in ghosts around him. Axel Foley doesn’t change in Beverly Hills Cop. It’s like the city of Beverly Hills and the police department changes around him and that was like an archetype that I just thought was interesting. That if you had your protagonist as a person who does change, but externally more than internal, at least for this season and I feel that one of the big influences of Amsterdam… And again, because there are issues on the pro side of shame and whatnot, one of the two largest examples of that are two of the biggest cliches there are, is legal marijuana and legal prostitution, which they’ve accepted as just part of their culture. So that being said, doing mushrooms over there when I was there, having never done drugs in my life was profound…
BH: Legally, very legally…
JS: Legally, that’s my point there. Yeah.
BB: Very legal. Okay.
JS: But when you look at Michael Pollan’s work in his recent book, How to Change Your Mindand how psilocybin and hallucinogens are being used to treat people with PTSD with depression and anxiety and whatnot and that book had just come out when we started writing the pilot for this and I realized that oh, Ted is in the scholastic way, like mushrooms. He is egoless, he does allow for people to be themselves and reflect what they think he is, but really what they are. Even as simply as the Trent Crimm character, the critic. He thinks Ted is this. He thinks he is a dumb American and Ted doesn’t try to persuade him. He just knows. He just keeps marching along. Slow and steady wins the race. He’s felt that way before, as I say in episode 1.08 in the darts game, that he’s familiar with that conceit, but he doesn’t allow himself to be changed by it and try to prove other people wrong; he just knows.
BB: That’s right.
JS: The time and I believe that that is rooted in the experience of living in Amsterdam and just accepting the world for what it is.
BH: And then the other half of losing ego is you’re no longer just your own thing, you are connected to everything. You see the Matrix in terms of a lattice work of everything and yet, that’s Ted’s standard default position.
JS: And the majority of the time I’ve improvised in my life, especially when doing it in front of the crowd, I’ve been sober but I wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between being sober and un-sober, I guess when you’re in that zone. Athletes talk about being in the zone and it’s just… You can just feel it and I know that happens when you go on a trip with your family or when you go on a road trip with your friends. You can get into that zone where you’re finishing each other’s sentences. Your banter just become second nature and you’re just, it’s a vibe and it was greatly appreciated that Michael Pollan’s book came at that time because I think when you’re making something, you’re taking all things,
JS: And I think maybe the story might be apocryphal but a lot of us know Simon and Garfunkel because of The Graduate, and that’s Mike Nichols, the director of that movie, didn’t know Simon and Garfunkel when he was thinking of directing that movie and I think it was like his brother who was playing the album while he was making it in the other room and he’s like “What is this?” And he was like “This is great. This is perfect.” And it’s like because his heart and his mind and his soul was open to all the things around him, it allowed everything that he was doing to be filtered through this idea of this film, The Graduate, the characters.
BB: That’s… Yeah and I think that, like the story about The Graduate so Brendan, I think this goes back to what you were saying too, about the interconnectedness of all things. Like in a five-minute period of one episode, you make 50 connections that are so deeply human. I think there’s something really important here and I’ll never get to it and I’ll nerd out on it later after we hang up and I’ll be “Dammit.”
JS: Send a voice note. We’ll tag it and ping it later.
BB: Yeah, send a voice note, right.
BB: No, there’s something about even… I’m a totally sober person. I think I’m 25 years at this point, 24 year and so I don’t… But I know the zone, I was in the zone this morning when I was playing tennis.
JS: Yes, definitely.
BB: Some days I suck, and I don’t play any better when I’m in the zone, but I’m just directly connected with something bigger. Y’all connect these things, like semantic satiation; where did that joke come from? Whose idea was this?
BH: I don’t know whose idea it was per se, but I think it came directly from the knowledge that that scene was going to use the Allen Iverson practice speech. So we’re sort of setting up that notion of where there’s going to be a word that’s going to get said and it’s going to get said so many times that it’s going to change that meaning or it’s going to lose that meaning and so yeah, we sort of retro-fitted putting that definition earlier into the episode.
BB: I mean so human.
JS: Yeah, that has always been a favorite phrase of mine. Semantic satiation is 100% a real thing and it’s something… It’s like that and trichotillomania which is like… And triskaidekaphobia, the fear of 13. There are certain phrases that I remember from, whatever, 18, 19, 20, and semantic satiation was one of them.
BB: It’s just so smart and the number of connections. I’ve seen every episode three times.
BH: Oh Brené, oh.
BB: Because… No, no, no. No, it’s true because, you know what? There’s a definition of creativity that I love, that I use in my own work, which is, “to connect the seemingly unconnectable.” And y’all do that every five effin’ seconds on this show so you cannot get it the first time and so when y’all were talking about semantic satiation, I was like yeah, I have that problem so much with “mow”, the word “mow”, like “mow the lawn.” Is it mow?
BB: Mow, mow. That’s not a real word, mow and then I can also have it when I’m writing, with “the” and I’m like “the, the, the… ” But just… I don’t know, the writing is so impeccable. So let me ask this question too, about… So I want to keep going.
BB: Who? Are y’all in charge of the music?
JS: Yes, to a degree. Again, it’s a team. I’ll take claim for being the final tube, I guess; the sort of the final yay or nay but depending on what song, I can tell you where it came from or whose idea it was, at least to the best of my knowledge.
BB: Okay, I’m going to ask, then. Okay.
BB: So I’m a Liverpool fan and have been for years and so on my bucket list, number three is a Liverpool game at Anfield. So I had never heard “You Will Never Walk Alone” by Marcus Mumford.
JS: It didn’t exist. Yeah. That was… Okay. So that song is from Carousel.
JS: You might… As you go through… The show, I would say, exists in the feminine space. I don’t define feminine masculine between the male and female forms or any variation in between in these modern times, and I believe that in doing so, what I’m very proud of the show is how much Ted and everybody on the show knows musicals, because that’s often thought as a female thing.
BB: My favorite part!
JS: It’s like a feminine thing and yet it is the way that I personally was raised. Brendan is a theater nut; Bill Lawrence can sing all of “Les Mis” in French. We have men and women that totally love and care about that. So a show… A song that’s from Carousel that’s been re-branded or… I don’t want to say co-opted. Yeah…
JS: I think co-opted has a negative connotation, but it was by Liverpool. That was something that I was made aware of by our good friend, Brendan Hunt here, and it was Gerry & The Pacemakers did the original one and so that was the comp that I was using but then being friends with Marcus and I could speak separately about why I wanted Marcus to do the soundtrack and why I think he actually ended up doing and the score, I mean, him and our friend Tom. I just heard him singing that song and so I asked him if he would do that, because I knew what I wanted the feel of the final moments of the show, and I knew it was going tobe to that song and there’s lots of lovely versions. You have Elvis, you have Sinatra singing that song; Barbra Streisand.
JS: You could pick any of the greats, but Marcus is from the ground up with this show. He loved the commercials that the character is rooted in and so yeah, it was literally just trying to do the Mike Nichols thing.
JS: Or another… One of my other favorite things is the Quincy Jones’ quote. I don’t know if you and your listeners have ever seen the documentary about him that his daughter Rashida made, I believe it’s on Netflix still.
JS: But it’s incredible, and it goes through different parts of his life, but he talks about when you’re making something that you want to get it like 75% of the way there and leave room for the magic.
BB: Oh, that’s true.
JS: So if I have this picture in my head and this vibe in my head… The other one he said that I just saw recently was, “You’ve got to get it to where it’s supposed to be but leave space for God to walk into the room.” Which I think is lovely too.
BB: Oh, yes.
JS: I know some people hear the “God” word and make it… They’ll reject it in the same way people will reject sports outright, but for me, it works as a metaphor, regardless and so if I had this idea in my head, then I’ve got to stay open to Brendan’s suggestions, Marcus’ voice and just the vibe going on that we want to go on but the one that’s actually going on and then you try to find… What did you say, Brendan about making those things connect?
JS: Lattice, lattice, lattice, yeah.
BB: Lattice. Yeah.
JS: Yeah, because I often define the job of being creative as making the invisible visible.
JS: And so it’s… That’s the neat thing that great storytellers do, for themselves first and foremost but then also then for the people. Brendan, do you remember anything different about the… Or separate from that picking of that song?
BH: We certainly knew by the time that we were filming it that we were going to put that there, because we at least constructed some shots around putting that song in but at that point we were thinking exclusively of the Gerry & the Pacemakers, because that is the one that launched the song into the football sphere and a football is also, of course, spherical.
BH: But then yeah, Marcus just trumped it. I remember one day I’m just sitting around and then you were like “Hey, you’ve got to hear this.” and it was a wave file of Marcus just singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in the studio. I was like “Oh yeah, yeah. We’re going to be doing that instead.”
JS: I sent it to Joe, and I was like “Hey, have a couple of margaritas, put on your headphones, chill out and just listen to this three times in a row.” And again, it’s… When I heard it the first time, I mean it’s the neatest thing in the world. It’s the closest I’ll ever feel to Quincy Jones or Jimmy Iovine, where I’m like “Hey Springsteen, you don’t sing that song, have this person sing that song.” It felt like that great moment where someone on American Idol just picks the perfect song…
BB: The perfect song.
JS: And just knocks it out and elevates it in a way that, yeah, still gives me goosebumps to even talk about it but yeah…
BB: Oh God! I had to stop it, I had to put y’all on hold, I had to put the whole show on hold just to pull myself together. It is… And it transcended, which that song never transcends football for me, because I’m a Liverpool fan obviously, but it transcended football. I thought this will be my funeral song with a slide show. [laughter]
JS: That’s why we did it, yeah. [laughter]
BB: Yeah, no but I was like… because I’m like, I’m weird that way. Okay. Season two. Okay first, let me just get to the nuts and bolts of this. Is that going to be in the next few weeks, that we’re going to be able to watch that?
JS: No, we’re writing it. We’ve been writing it for the past couple of months. We don’t film until… It’ll be the same timetable as next year, it’ll come out August. Yeah but you get to…
BB: Son of a sea cook.
BH: America, you’ve got to see the crushed look on Brené’s face here, which is sad for her, but is very encouraging and heartening for our work. So thank you, Brené.
BB: Really? Like really, it’s going to be a year?
JS: It is. Yeah. Well, less than a year now. Right?
BB: Okay so there are so many potential directions with season two that are fraught with tension and vulnerability. There’re so many things that we need to unpack here with our friends. Can you tell us anything about… Can we expect the same set of actors, can we… Are we going to get… There’s so much work that needs to be done here.
JS: Yeah, the same actors, our production designer’s even asking, “Hey are we having the same sets?” Yes. We’re a little cautious, precious, especially when working for a company like Apple of giving too much away but also for us because again, in this day and age of bingeing, I… And Brendan, I think you’re on the same page but Bill Lawrence and I could argue 50-50 of “Do we want this to all be dropped at one time, per the norm these days, all 10 episodes at once or do we want to space it out?” I was concerned about maybe the noise of the world going on and swallowing up this little pearl we were hoping to drop into this mighty ocean of [chuckle] public discourse and I kind of love that we went the way of spreading it out because the story was told to give you emotional and narrative cliffhangers and so that definitely occurs over this break too, where when we drop in on this, you’ve got to play catch up for maybe the first half of the first episode or whatnot. A lot of that… All those little knobs are still being twiddled and figured out here, but yeah, the cast is… Ted and Beard don’t all of a sudden go teach gymnastics in Romania or something like that.
BB: I’m going to be so worried about all of my friends over there until I know what they’re doing. I just really… I need Beard to get in some therapy and so… because he just like, he just can’t keep putting the chess and stuff in front of the girls and I need Ted to… I really… My whole friend group just for what it’s worth, we need some Ted and Sassy action. We need some…
BB: We need some Ted and Sassy and… But I will tell you, Roy cannot underestimate the gravity and the grief with this transition out of football, and he’s very important to everybody I know, because he’s full of fury and rage like all of us, but then he’s got Phoebe who he kisses and holds hands with. I’ll trust y’all to take good care of my people during the second writing season.
JS: We got it, we certainly will and we…
BH: As it turns out, we love them too.
JS: Yeah yeah, it works out. I will say that, in regards to the second season and this isn’t me being overly convenient, but part of the reason that we flipped as a text chain, as a writer’s Zoom room, when you tweeted about the show initially, was that your name and your work had been bandied about in our first… I don’t know, two… Was it first two weeks of the writer’s room?
BB: That’s so nice.
JS: And I believe, unless I’m wrong, Brendan, tell me I’m wrong but I believe it was Brett Goldstein who brought it up, who is the fellow that plays Roy Kent, he also is a writer on the show. So talk about some synchronicity there and…
BB: Yeah, I guess what I need y’all to hear is that, you came, you knocked on our door and we opened it and then we peeked around and we invited you into our hearts and now it’s so important that y’all know, that now we co-own these characters. [laughter]
BB: Because we love them so much. Which I mean, isn’t that the dream of a writer?
JS: Yeah, I think it’s one part getting it out of you because you have to get it out of you, that you’re not making anything that’s inconsequential, whether it be… And I can only speak for myself and through myself that it’s like, I just don’t want to do anything that I don’t care about it.
BB: Oh yes.
JS: Otherwise, if I’m not connected to the work I’m doing, then I think that’s when you’re an actual honest to goodness sell out. I don’t think it’s when you’re doing stuff for dough or for a company or something like that.
BH: I kind of want to connect these last two things real quick.
BH: Because I just didn’t realize something about the fact that we parsed it out every week and I’m glad we did too and maybe that’s some part of the connection that you’re feeling was that build up but the people who were with us from the beginning and had that tension every week of what’s going to happen, they’re the only ones who are going to have that tension from now on. Because from now on everyone will tear through it, which hopefully will be as good an experience but there’s going to be a club of people who not just got to it early but experienced the show differently.
BB: Yeah, I think that’s true.
BH: Than anyone who watches it from now on will do.
BB: I definitely thought y’all sucked for dropping them one at a time, just to be honest. Just in the beginning, I was like…
BH: Yeah, people were mad.
BB: Yeah, oh no, I was like “This is just bullshit.” But then I got into it and I was like “Okay, I kinda understand. I bet it was an intentional decision because everything about the show feels so super intentional.”
BH: Yeah, on the creative side it was. That was Apple’s idea and they have again, numbers that we don’t know but super nervous, just because you’re kinda like “I don’t know if people will stick with us.” and that was true humility through just fear. Like the actual, I think, a decent kind of humility, not fake humility but where it’s like “I don’t know if… ” Just so many choices out there and so many things, what if people don’t care about…
BH: You know you’re going to get the people that are going to care from jump but what I think it did Brené, was it did allow it to sit and sit in people’s psyches and because of the quarantine, I would even argue that it didn’t even allow for it to be merely water cooler banter of like 10 minutes, that it kept… There was a true… The water cooler became the media or the country and that ripple effect continued on and I think getting to sit with a show, even a silly fish out of water comedy, if you give it space, you gotta leave room for that magic and that magic is just as much what we’re doing on the writing side or the actors are doing on the acting side but also on the viewer side, to allow them to put themselves in it and so you’re only getting 30 minutes but then you have six more days and 23 hours and 30 minutes to like think about it and talk about it and live it; from a business perspective, get the word of mouth out there and turn other people on to it and yeah, the sense of discovery that I think is still one of the most powerful things with television and music. When you hear a band…
BB: For sure.
BH: Or you to see a band in a small club before… You get to see the Beatles at the Cavern Club, it’s like that’s yours, that’s forever yours but I would encourage people to maybe try to watch them one at a time and there is… And we did write it with that intentionality that you’re speaking of and I’m so glad you sniffed that out is I think it does warn… As a guy that edited a lot of it, I’ve seen these episodes over and over and I’m not crazy about watching myself, but I love watching the show because of it, we get to see everybody else and there are things that are set up in the pilot that pay off in the finale, and and those things through repeated viewings over maybe the next nine months, 10 months, will hopefully elicit more of that vibe. That vibe permeating throughout the universe. [chuckle]
BB: No yeah, I think that… I think one of the things it did too, I was just thinking again from a research perspective is, it took away… You know, a lot of the bingeing is also numbing. So when you have it a little bit at a time, it’s not a great numbing tool. It’s a… You have to pay attention to it and the other thing that a lot of people are saying is that, it’s one of the very few shows that I have a 15-year-old and a 21-year-old and when she came home from college a couple weekends ago, Charlie was like, “we need to… We do Friday night, we order dinner out and we watch Ted Lasso, me and Mom and Dad, you have to watch it with us” and she’s like “I haven’t seen any of it yet and it’s all Mom talks about. Jesus, do I need… ” And so we binged it that night, the four of us, for five and a half hours over Indian food and then I think we just… I think we even like Uber Eated cake or something because it was so long but when it was done, she just said “Nothing else makes you feel like this.” Nothing else makes you feel like this and so not only does it make you think, it just catches you on that three-legged stool of affect and emotion, cognition and thinking and then behavior; it’s just there’s something really important about it that is… And I get it’s a show and I get it’s a fun comedy and I get it’s a workplace comedy and… But I’m grateful. I guess I’ll just… Before we go into the rapid fire, I’ll go into, I’m just grateful.
JS: Crazy grateful to get to make it and have people respond to that and I think one of my true, true joys of it is how much we hear about people watching it with their family and again, I was… My dad took me to see Beverly Hills Cop when I was nine years old and there’s language in there and that’s Eddie Murphy at his height and language or symbols and if we understand the intent and there does get to be with Roy and the F word some semantic satiation where it’s like you lose the thread a little bit as he usually does when he uses those words and… But yeah, the fact that families are watching it together is incredible. It’s so neat because those are some of the best experiences that I longed for and and loved about growing up with my folks was they took me to see… Mom took me to see Broadway, Dad would take me to go see Die Hardand Beverly Hills Cop and things like that and Chevy Chase being a smart arse. That’s who me and my sisters are.
BB: Alright, you ready for the rapid-fire questions?
BB: So, I’m gonna start with Brendan. You ready? Because you’re in the top of my Brady Bunch Zoom screen. Okay, fill in the blank and we’re going to move at a pace. No thinking ahead. No cheating, I hate cheating. Okay, number one, fill in the blank, Brendan. Vulnerability is?
BB: Jason, vulnerability is?
BB: Two, Brendan, you’re called to be really brave, but the fear is real. It’s right there in your throat. What’s the very first thing you do?
BH: Continue being brave.
BB: Jason, first thing you do?
JS: Take a deep breath and think of my family.
BB: Brendan, something people get wrong about you.
BH: That I am not allergic to cats.
BB: Jason, something people get wrong about you.
JS: That I was in a fraternity. Or maybe that I would be.
BB: Okay. Number four, Brendan last show you binged and loved?
BH: I May Destroy You.
BB: Okay, Jason?
JS: Search Party.
BB: I haven’t seen it.
JS: Yeah, Search Party is great. Yeah, it’s on HBO Max. Yeah.
BB: Okay, favorite movie that you would not pass up if it was on?
BH: The Blues Brothers.
JS: Pulp Fiction.
BB: Okay. Brendan, a concert you’ll never forget?
BH: Oh gosh! Outside my head was Robbie Williams in Las Vegas.
BB: Awesome. Okay, Jason, concert you’ll never forget?
JS: Watch the Throne tour at Madison Square Garden with Jay Z and Kanye West.
BB: Okay. Favorite meal, Brendan?
BH: A deep dish Chicago pizza. If I haven’t had it in like a year, because I can only have deep dish Chicago pizza like once a year at this point. It destroys my body and I love it.
BB: Yeah, I get that. Jason, favorite meal?
JS: It’d be some form of Kansas City barbecue with a whole bunch of friends. Yeah, I can’t be too specific about which place because they’re all good and I get ripped to shreds…
BB: Yeah, you should not do that for sure.
JS: Pulled pork. Poor old Jason.
JS: I’ll just tell you this one story about Kansas City. So I’m also a big… I’m just a big sports fan, if it has a ball, I’m for it…
BB: Worst football experience of my life… Like 1990, maybe. Chiefs versus Raiders, I was in Kansas City for it. That thing is like a bar street fight in the hellhole of Texas, that game. Those people hate each other, the Raiders and Chiefs fans.
JS: Yeah, yeah.
BB: Sold out but the stadium’s empty because it’s negative like five degrees and sleeting. I was wearing a trash bag and when I went to the bathroom, I couldn’t move my fingers. So I had to ask a stranger to unzip my jeans because I was frozen [chuckle] like this and so that’s… When I think Kansas City and I think of sports, I just think of… It’s the coldest I’ve ever been. Okay, Brendan…
JS: And I think of the kindness of people willing to unzip people’s jeans for them. You know what I mean? That’s cool…
BB: That is very Midwest. [laughter] Yeah that is totally…
JS: That’s what it’s really about.
BB: Yeah. [laughter] Yes. Actually, my hand was frozen…because I still smoked and drank back then, my hand was frozen in cigarette form. What’s on your nightstand, Brendan?
BH: A book that my baby mama’s mama got me called, Dude, You’re Gonna Have A Baby! [laughter] Which breaks it all down into real caveman terms for my dumb head.
BB: God. Big, big, huge congratulations. When are y’all due?
BH: Thank you. We’re due in January, right about the time we’ll be in London shooting. It’s going to work out great.
BB: It’s going to be great, it’s going to be amazing either way. Congratulations.
BH: Thank you, I’m excited.
JS: The baby’s going to cry in an accent. It’s going to be adorable.
BB: Yeah. What’s on your nightstand, Jason?
JS: Several books. There is a book that I’m thinking of… The biggest one there is a book about gambling card sleights by a fellow named Steve Forte. I like magic and yeah so it’s a whole big ole tome. There’s two volumes of it but yeah. [chuckle] It’s called…
JS: The first one’s up here, yeah. Yeah, Gambling Sleight of Hand Volume Two.
BB: You gave us a little bit of that in Ted Lasso. Okay, what’s a snapshot of an ordinary moment, a really ordinary moment in your life, that brings you real joy?
BH: I have two hobbies that most people in my cohort do not. One is that I play an obscure German card game called Skat at a reasonably high level and I’m also a hula hooper. So sometimes in my most meditative state, I will be up here hula hooping but while I’m hula hooping, I’m on my iPad playing Skat against people in Germany who don’t know that the guy they’re playing, is A: American and B: Hula hooping.
BB: I didn’t even think it was possible to love you more and I do.
JS: Oh, you have no idea. You have no idea, Brené.
BB: The weirdness just begins. Okay, snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life, Jason.
JS: One as of late and it’s been because partly of the quarantine but then also just his age but playing video games with Otis has been a great joy because my dad grew up with pinball. They didn’t have video games. I’m the age where I’ve had Atari, I’ve had a controller in my hand my whole life and now that Otis is getting into it and all in moderation but when we play… We’ve been playing FIFA Soccer together. [chuckle] and him learning the sport that way and both how to deal with winning and losing because he’s kind of a… He’s a shitty loser right now and it kind of bums me out and I just need him to not give up on things and so seeing him when he makes a great pass and like look… You know, sitting next to each other on the couch and looking over at him when this little smile comes across his face because he’s not at school. He’s not playing… He’s not doing anything with his friends…
BB: It’s hard.
JS: So the importance of ensemble work and team mentality is something that’s forged the person that I am and I know that that’s a great way to sort of simulate it right now but seeing the look on his face when he makes a great play and understands some things is really amazing.
BB: That is a warm fuzzy isn’t it? It’s a warm parent fuzzy, for sure.
JS: Yeah, it really is. Yeah.
JS: Okay, last question. Brendan, tell me one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now.
BH: I’m grateful for the child that we’re about to have. It was a lot of work getting there. Took four years of science and it’s finally coming and we’re very grateful.
BB: It’s amazing. Again, congratulations.
BH: Thank you.
BB: Jason, one thing you’re really grateful for right now.
JS: Yeah, my friends and family, definitely. The family that I was lucky enough to be born into and the one that I’ve been smart enough to choose to have around me and that starts with Olivia, my partner and all the amazing people she’s brought into my life too and yeah… Present company excluded, she has great taste.
BB: Okay, last question. This was so interesting for me, again as a researcher and I don’t mean to do a deep dive on the inner sanctum of your souls, but the five songs you can’t live without, Brendan… “What I’d Say, parts one and two” by Ray Charles, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”…
BB: The great Stevie Wonder. “Because I Love You,” Lizzo, always great. “Poisoned Rose,” Elvis Costello. One of my favorites, and “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, because you have exactly one tattoo and it’s a Hey Jude tattoo. In one sentence, what do these five songs tell me about you?
BH: That I care about everyone getting out of whatever dark time they might be in at a given time and that trusting that every storm passes and it’s going to be okay.
BB: Beautiful. Okay, thank you. Jason, “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. “Small Town” by John [chuckle] Mellencamp. So Midwestern I can just taste [laughter] it from here. [laughter] “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. [laughter] Which I had not thought about. [laughter] And I had to play it and it… Okay, Easy Lover.
JS: It’s so good.
BB: It’s, yeah, sure, yeah.
BB: “It Was A Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra and… Great song. “High Rollers” by Ice-T. [chuckle] What in the wide, wide world of sports do these five songs say about you?
JS: The first thing it makes me think of is like “That’s a guy that used to travel with a lot of CDs in his duffel bag.”
JS: That’s… Like just lugging around. Having a separate rolling bag just for… Until the… Goodness, until the iPod, basically. Knowing why I chose each one of those, it has a lot to do with… What I think it would tell about you… Or at least it does to me when hearing those all back like that, is that I am… That I am a product of… I am forged by the people and situations I was lucky enough to be born into. Each one of those is about something else happening to me or me being around something or someone else’s influence. How something gave me perspective on a different situation or world but yeah. I think it’s, I think that’s why you can get away from it. It’s so funny to think about it as selected group of five versus the individual. I love that.
BB: As a body of work. Yeah. You’ll each have little mini mix tapes with your faces on them. They’ll be really cute. Okay, thank y’all. This was so fun and I’m so grateful. I know y’all are writing, taking care of my people that all belong to the Richmond Football Club and I’m just, thanks for taking the time and talking to me about it. It was really important and great.
JS: Well this was a blast. We’re truly flattered that you wanted to… Again, and using your platform to shine a light on our group of Merry Pranksters. It’s really been amazing and thank you for being so thoughtful and kind to the characters as well because they say “be the change you want to see in the world,” and I think our group is trying to write the change.
BB: Alright, I just want to say thank y’all to listening, to sharing this conversation, sharing this kind of joyful experience in moment with me. Obviously, it goes without saying that if you’ve not watched the show, each episode is about 30 minutes. All 10 are now available. You can watch them on Apple+ and if you want to, I think it’s always so fun when shows have their own social media handles, although it’s not good for me because I have a hard time separating reality from TVs and movies that I really like, but you can follow Coach Lasso on Twitter at @TedLasso. You can follow Coach Beard, @TheCoachBeard and you can also follow AFC Richmond, which is not really a Premier Football club, @AFCRichmond. There’s also an official Ted Lasso soundtrack on Spotify. I’ll link to it from the episode show page. I’ll give you all these links so you can find out about all of these things on brenebrown.com.
BB: When you get to the website, just look at the top and go to Unlocking Us Podcast and you’ll find this episode and you’ll find all kinds of great links to things that you need to find. If you want to follow Jason, he’s just Jason Sudeikis and Brendan is Brendan Hunting, H-U-N-T-I-N-G. Alright, that is it for today. Thank you so much for listening. Again, please, if you’re in the United States, figure out a voting plan. Really dig into it and be prepared. Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late. There are a lot of weird hurdles this time around. Yeah, and then don’t forget, October 19th, Dare to Lead podcast launching exclusively on Spotify. So Unlocking Us is a Spotify original from Parcast. It was produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo and Carleigh Madden and by Cadence 13. Sound design is by Kristen Acevedo. Thank y’all. Awkward, brave and kind. Take care.
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