"Ephron on three": Masculinit(ies) in Ted Lasso

deadline for submissions: 
July 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Anthony Dotterman/SAMLA 95: Atlanta, Georgia, Nov 9-11
contact email: 

In Season 3, Episode 11 of Apple TV’s Ted Lasso, Mae–the show’s matrimonial barkeeper– softly recited Philip Larkin’s “This be the Verse,” a poem about the emotional scars parents leave their children. Coming as it does near the end of the series run, the poem references the trauma(s) the main character has inherited from his parents, and ties together many of the themes of the series, namely how “hurt people hurt people.” In keeping with the tone of the series, however, the pub owner’s reading of Larkin’s poem does not serve as a moral repudiation of Ted’s parents or their generation. Instead, arriving as it did during the COVID pandemic, and its concurrent cultural and political polarization, the show presents a utopian dream for collective growth and understanding symbolized by one of the show’s most quoted lines: “Be curious, not judgmental.” Indeed, part of Ted Lasso’s appeal is the almost utopian world it creates. The main character is a middle-aged white male from Kansas, who concurrently represents middle America but is still inherently progressive in his worldview. More particularly, Ted Lasso presents a multi-dimensional and positive view of masculinity. Professional male athletes admit their fondness for rom-coms such as Love Actually and You’ve Got Mail, musicals by Julie Andrews, and the main male characters gather as the “diamond dogs” to talk about their feelings. Beyond its cheerful and hopeful tone, however, Ted Lasso explores complicated themes related to gender and masculinity, themes that are bracketed by the audience’s eventual discovery that the main character discovered his father’s lifeless body as a young man; Ted Lasso’s father, as we learn, died violently by a self-inflicted gunshot wound when Ted was 16. Keeping the preceding ideas in mind, therefore, the following panel invites scholars to present on topics related to masculinity and gender in Ted Lasso. Some possible themes to explore: How do real and surrogate father-figures symbolize institutional dysfunction and generational trauma in Ted Lasso? How does Ted Lasso explore female forms of masculinity? How does Ted Lasso present a more varied–and perhaps more complicated–representation of masculinity? Considering our present zeitgeist–particularly the American cultural wars–how does Ted Lasso attempt to reconcile divisions related to gender?

Please email abstracts of 500 words or less to Dotterman@adelphi.edu by July 30th 2023.


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