Ted Lasso, the Olympics and talking about mental health

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Throughout the history of television, there has been one unmissable image of a therapist: a smartly dressed person in a well-appointed office, perhaps holding a notepad, asking much more direct and pointed questions. than an average therapist usually would. By Lorraine Bracco on The Sopranos to Niecy Nash on the current season I have never, it is the archetype.

On the new season of Ted lasso, however, Sarah Niles’ Dr Sharon Fieldstone is thoughtful and calm, and she commutes to work on a foldable bicycle, proof that Ted lasso is the kind of show where people have honest conversations about mental health.

Throughout its first season, and now in its second, the Apple TV + the show stood out by being both wickedly smart and downright hokey. Seriousness flows from every scene. But rather than serving up a few hours of toxic positivity each season, Lasso– essentially a workplace comedy about an NCAA football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who is recruited to lead a British Premier League football (football) team – actually creates a space where everyone, including gruff footballers, talks about his feelings in a way rarely seen in fictional sports stories.

Her frankness is so revolutionary that the writer Charlotte Clymer, in a recent newsletter, unveiled what she calls the “Lasso test”. Like the Bechdel test, the culmination of sexism in film and television, the gauge of the Lasso test is simple: “At least two men talk to each other about their mental health or emotional well-being in a candid, vulnerable and loving way without needing to to involve women. as vehicles or guides for their personal development. If you think this is an easy test to pass, you are not watching enough TV.

Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone is sure Ted lasso easily has these conversations all the time — Dr. Fieldstone is there for a reason, after all. But it shows a willingness to talk about mental health at a time that sorely needed it. Sixteen months after the start of Covid-19 pandemic, things are still difficult and, as Clymer points out in his article, “doomscrolling migrated offline and became a disaster. Even when people aren’t looking for updates on the Delta variant or the latest vaccination numbers, they are still scouring the world trying to figure out when to hide or encountering fights between those who do and those who don’t. not. Anxiety and intrusive thoughts are apparently at an all time high and impacting performance at work, even for athletes.

Tuesday, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew of the women’s all-around at this year’s Tokyo Games, saying she was in the wrong headspace to compete. Her announcement comes after tennis star and fellow Olympian Naomi Osaka withdrew from Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, citing the psychological toll of participating in major tournaments.

Maybe just a few years ago the narrative in the sports world was that athletes of their caliber should be able to absorb it, to play through the pain. But in 2021, most of the time, they’ve been lauded for being the personal care champions.

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