Not since the Bible have so many parables and storylines been packed into one small space, and, as if to underline the point, the Jesus Christ Superstar theme tune from Lloyd Webber’s musical even makes an appearance in this third episode of Ted Lasso’s new season.
Zipping between the characters as deftly as swift midfielders, the writers push the story arcs forward, and the pop culture references come at us hard and fast. So fast, that even Ted tells us: “Gravity is nice, but sometimes clarity is the true soul of wit.” Perhaps he’s aware that so often with this show, we are reaching for our remotes to go back and play the lines again to be sure that we heard them right.
But it’s not just the narrative, the plot twists, the fun cultural nods, and witty lines that turn this little show into a big one. It’s the core messages that can influence and inspire us in our own lives.
“Are you familiar with Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken things with gold?” Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is asked by a psychic who her mother has set her up to meet. “The idea is that we embrace the flaws and imperfections, and in doing so create something much stronger.”
Wounded and damaged by her cruel ex-husband, Rebecca clearly needs mending, and although the metaphor is lost on her, it is not on the show’s audience. We understand that we are not really discussing Japanese pottery but another of the show’s themes placed there to encourage us.
Embracing our imperfections holds power, according to psychologists. “Everyone has flaws and makes mistakes,” explains psychologist Sharon Martin. “The problem isn’t that we’re imperfect. The problem is we think other people aren’t. When we compare ourselves to others, we feel inadequate… Ironically, it’s being imperfect that makes us real and relatable.”
Embracing our flaws is a form of self-love. Our imperfections are part of who we are. If we don’t accept them, we are unlikely to be happy with ourselves. Embracing flaws and loving ourselves brings inner peace and authenticity.
By contrast, this episode also introduces us to sporting legend Zava, “like Pelé but every letter is different,” a character inspired by the real-life soccer striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, played by Maximilian Osinski, who is the epitome of someone who loves himself and demonstrates how far self-love can take you.
In keeping with the show’s theme, Zava is a man who unquestionably believes in himself and uses that self-belief as a superpower to achieve his goals and ambitions. “You’re welcome,” he writes on his contract with AFC Richmond in place of his signature.
He’s talented, confident, a “charisma unicorn,” and most importantly, unquestioning of his ability. We are yet to see where that takes him or what flaws lie beneath his superstar exterior. As we saw in Nate’s storyline, a person can become overconfident at personal cost. Egos that appear to exceed the size of Wembley Stadium are sometimes hiding something.
But believing in ourselves, or self-efficacy as psychologists call it, can take us places nonetheless. Judging ourselves to be capable of success increases our chances of actual success. The trick is to find the balance and to remember the lines of the Leonard Cohen song with which the show goes out: “Everybody knows that the days are loaded, everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.”
Lucy Broadbent is the author of What Would Ted Lasso Do? How Ted’s Positive Approach Can Help You. Find it on Amazon here.
Ted Lasso Season 3 is streaming on Apple TV+. Find Lucy Broadbent’s other episode reviews here: