In August 2020, I wondered if we would make it, and I'm an optimistic fella, but I had doubts. We were four-ish months into the pandemic, and it wasn't bringing out the best in us. Then, a folksy character with biscuits in hand landed in my living room. His name is Ted Lasso, and I just watched his last episode (note, this letter will be spoiler free)
Another popular show, Succession, wrapped up its five-year run last weekend. My wife and I were late to its party and tapped out midway through the second season - we did the same with White Lotus.
If Lasso was a balm for my pandemic stress, Succession was a hope-killing cancer that seemed to kill everything it touched. Yes, the writing was exceptional, as was the acting, but it was impossible to root for any character - which I accept as the show's construct. Still, how could something that made me feel so bad be so popular?
Throughout my life, I've wondered if nice people ever finish first. I spent many hours "behind the curtain" navigating corporate politics and sitting with influencers throughout my career. Unfortunately, I have seen too many unscrupulous people advance their influence and power. Lasso gave me an underdog to root for and lifted my hope that karma may have the last laugh.
As saccharine and sentimental as it was, Lasso stretched our emotional range. I can't think of an episode where I didn't laugh, cry, and feel joy. Succession, with its nuclear destruction, left me sad without the ability to shed a tear. It chipped away at my mental well-being while Ted courageously addressed a topic that most men deny or push away.
Succession was a collection of hurt people hurting people in dysfunctional relationships. At the same time, Ted Lasso showed us that men can help other men heal and have close relationships with women without a sexual foundation.
Both series showed that we are all going through something. We judge the tip of the iceberg but infrequently understand what's happening below the water's surface. The Roy family destroyed each other and ended up dead or alone, but F.C. Richmond has shown us that people can change when you dare to dive in, touch their hearts, and walk hand in hand with them.
We have Ted Lasso "Believe" magnet on our calendar wall near our kitchen table. I glance at it each morning as I set my intentions for the day. You could say it's a Pause Breathe Reflect moment where I reflect on:
What is it that I believe today?
We can live by Succession's ethos that the world is scary, finite, and it is everyone for themselves, or we could believe...
that we go far together.
in the power of storytelling
that people can change.
in not knowing.
that we can do hard things.
that we're all perfectly imperfect.
that nice people can finish first; when they don't, they probably sleep better at night.
And as Ted might say, the decision to follow Succession's worldview or all of this goodness is easy as saying yes to the chocolate fountain at The Golden Corral.
I'll miss this show, but I believe its ripple will bring out the best in us when we allow it to do so.