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But seriously: How long has Ted Lasso been in London?

It’s time we got to the bottom of this

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) sitting and smiling in front of press mics at a press conference Image: Apple TV Plus
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

This should be an easy one. While some TV seasons take place over a nebulous year where time is marked by holidays (like most sitcoms) and others very deliberately pace themselves over mere weeks (Breaking Bad season 1), Ted Lasso has clearly marked timelines for its seasons. The Apple TV Plus show, centered around the unlikely but affable American recruited to coach a London soccer (ahem, football) team, is in its third season now, meaning we should know from the first two seasons how much football (ahem, soccer) has been played.

And yet!

There’s enough fuzziness introduced by season 3 that it warrants an investigation.

[Ed. note: This post contains a light spoiler for the end of season 3 episode 1 of Ted Lasso. It involves Roy and Keeley, if that matters.]

Roy (Brett Goldstein) standing behind Keely (Juno Temple), and hugging her from behind as they look at her iPad Image: Apple TV Plus

In the premiere of Ted Lasso season 3, Ted (Jason Sudeikis) is wondering what he’s still doing in London coaching AFC Richmond, while Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is pushing him to fulfill his promise to “win the whole damn thing.”

Across town, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) have broken up, news that is confined to a single scene where they tell his niece Phoebe. She’s a bit bewildered, but ultimately comes around: “It makes sense. I mean, you were only together a year.”

That’s a confusing timeline curveball for a TV show that has been building its run around three separate seasons of soccer (football) to just toss in. After all, Ted will be starting his third season in the opening of season 3, so how could Roy and Keely — who started dating toward the end of season 1 — have only been dating a year? Let’s break down the facts:

  • Rebecca fired a coach in the opening scene of the pilot. It’s implied, though never really confirmed in the pilot, that it’s a midseason replacement to bring in Ted Lasso, which would explain why season 1 doesn’t have that many matches.
  • Given the weather when they arrive in London, it seems to be spring. So… March? At the earliest?
  • Season 2 picks up partway into Ted’s technical second season with Richmond, and his first full one. By this point Roy and Keeley have been dating for a few months, depending on when we put the start of the season and their first date in episode 8.
  • There’s a Christmas episode, which gives us some sense of the timeline, but honestly the less said the better. Suffice it to say that appears to mean season 2 picks up in the fall and we see them go all the way through spring with a few time skips.
  • All the chyrons on news programs have been stripped of news or date context; newspapers don’t have a publish date on the front of them; even Ted’s trusty iPhone merely displays the time and not the day of the year.
  • Season 3 picks up in fall of Ted’s second full season with Richmond.
  • The fact that Ted’s son Henry bemoans returning to the U.S. because it meant returning to “my country’s political landscape” doesn’t anchor us either, since Ted Lasso exists in a world without COVID-19, and also things politically have been a dumpster fire in a few ways for a long time.
  • Henry visited Ted for six weeks, meaning he was probably there for summer vacation, which puts season 3’s start at about the beginning of when the Premier League kicks off (August or so).
  • Assuming Keely and Roy had a bit of a private mourning period before telling his niece, the timeline for their relationship could be about a year and change.

So what did we learn? That Ted Lasso is a bit flimsy on time and maybe stretching the rules a bit. But for a sports show that leans in and out of being about the sport and being about the workplace and personal dynamics of the team playing it, that’s expected. As is a 10-year-old rounding down on her uncle’s relationship.

Ted’s been in London for about a year and a half or so, but Ted Lasso will only be around for a season more — at least as long as star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis puts his foot down on Ted Lasso being a three-season show. With so much of the season 3 premiere dedicated to setting up that conclusion, it’s hard to know yet what the Apple show will do with the time it’s got left. But one thing’s for sure: Phoebe’s right, that breakup is “stupid.”