Written by Saloni Gajjar, AV Club
Ted Lasso has taken an early lead this awards season, with star Jason Sudeikis winning a SAG award and Golden Globe earlier this year. The Apple TV+ comedy shouldn’t have any trouble earning nominations in the major Emmy categories like Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, but its seamless editing deserves just as much attention. With any scripted sports series, editing is key to transporting audiences outside their comfortable viewing spaces and into the stadiums where the action takes place. Ted Lasso’s two main editors, Melissa McCoy and A.J. Catoline, ACE, have established a rhythm that makes the soccer scenes’ adrenaline palpable. They also home in on the awkward pauses when the characters adapt to Ted’s optimism, or during the surprisingly romantic journey of Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley Jones (Juno Temple). Their labors make Ted Lasso work, and Emmy voters should consider the sports-comedy fusion for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing.
Sudeikis’ Ted Lasso is a folksy, buoyant Kansas City coach who is hired to train the struggling Premiere League football team AFC Richmond in the U.K., so he moves with his assistant and best friend, Coach Beard (co-creator Brendan Hunt), in tow. Ted’s brand of joyous confidence is new for everyone he meets in Richmond, whether it’s captain Roy or his boss, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), the new owner of the club with an intent to destroy it. A lot of the humor is derived from their facial expressions and hesitant acceptance of Ted. With their editing, McCoy and Catoline piece together the most notable of the filmed scenes and devote the time to focus on Rebecca, Roy, and the rest of the team’s bewilderment as a contrast to Sudeikis’ wide, inviting smile. The editors strike a harmonious balance among different comedy genres—office, sports, romantic, buddy—never letting one overpower the other. It’s as much of an ensemble show as it is about Sudeikis’ big-hearted character, and the editors don’t let us forget that.
Look no further than the first meeting between Ted, Coach Beard, and kit-man Nathan (Nick Mohammed) in the pilot. When Ted and his fellow coach ask the latter for his name, he’s surprised; no one ever asks. Instead of immediately giving an answer, there’s a pause as the camera cuts back and forth between their faces, setting the comedic tone and letting Nathan’s confusion linger (and Mohammed’s performance shine). The joke continues when Ted and Coach Beard see Nathan again and remember his name, and the scene cuts to another look of happy surprise on the kit-man’s face. The Ted Lasso editors build on a similar momentum for every character and running gag. One of the show’s biggest secondary arcs is Roy and Keeley’s romance, and the editors prime us to root for them early on by focusing on their longing gazes, flirtatious parking lot conversations, and when Roy finally asks Keeley out in episode eight (“The Diamond Dogs”).
McCoy and Catoline’s intercuts from the field, to the coaches, to the viewers in the stands and those watching the game at home present the matches in an appealing way to fans as well as viewers not particularly interested in soccer. In the establishing shot of the premiere with the AFC Richmond team practicing on the field, the duo combines close-ups of legs and passes with slow-motion scenes and pans out to catch all the gameplay. These jump-cuts, especially in the finale, generate the necessary energy for high-stakes storytelling. This is true of non-game scenes as well. Two of the show’s most memorable moments—the team celebrating its win by going to a karaoke club in “Make Rebecca Great Again,” and Ted’s game of darts with Rebecca’s ex-husband, Rupert (Anthony Head), in “The Diamond Dogs”—speak to McCoy and Catoline’s remarkable ability to follow the script’s character developments and the actors’ work with their cuts.
The show’s emphasis on teamwork extends to the editing team and beyond. Catoline told GoldDerby that during the scene in “Biscuits” where the audience chants “wanker” at Ted in the stadium, only 10 people were on set doing the screaming, but they had to make it look like it was an entire crowd. “Soccer, like picture editing, is a game of collaboration,” Catoline said. Shots of crowd reactions, the men in the locker room, the press interviewing Ted, or even strangers at a bar cursing at him are all woven together to form the full picture of the shake-up caused by his unconventional methods. If Sudeikis, Waddingham, and the rest of the cast and writers are nominated for Emmys, it’s worth noting how much of their vibrant work is shaped by McCoy and Catoline in the editing bay.