If you’re not watching Ted Lasso, I’m not sure how you’re making it these days.
For those unfamiliar, Jason Sudeikis plays the title character—a college level American Football coach from the Midwest who is surprisingly recruited to coach an English Premier League team, AFC Richmond. Seemingly unsophisticated and goofy, his folksy approach leaves press, fans, and players scratching their heads (or worse). But Ted contains multitudes, as does this gem of a show.
In a recent episode Ted boldly declares his devotion to communism, um, rom-communism, that is. Imagine a pre-game pep-talk that highlights the greatest tropes of romantic comedies. Ted reminds his team that has yet to win a match in their season that “If all those attractive people, with their amazing apartments and interesting jobs—usually in some creative field—can go through some lighthearted struggles and still end up happy, then so can we.” The episode then continues with nods to all the greats from When Harry Met Sally to Notting Hill. It makes so much sense that Ted’s world view would align with the narrative arc of a rom-com.
Turns out that I believe in rom-communism, too. My ability to enjoy a romantic comedy may be the litmus test for my continued faith in humanity. If I can still swoon when Darcy professes his love to Elizabeth, perhaps my heart still holds some softness. I reference Pride and Prejudice because far from being a stuffy classic, P & P is pure romantic comedy. If it were published today, it would have one of those fabulous brightly-colored illustrated covers that were made for Instagram.
Romantic comedies rely on tropes, which serve to let the reader know exactly what Ted Lasso knows: everything will turn out okay in the end. A few of those tropes readers will instantly recognize—the meet-cute, the fake relationship, friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, and stuck together to name a few. This is why adaptations of Jane Austen work. We know how the story goes, but we still want to read it. This is why so many of us threw things (figuratively speaking) at the television when we watched the PBS adaptation of Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. It betrayed the rom-com genre. Sure, sure, Season Two is coming, but I’ll never trust Andrew Davies with my heart again. May Jane Austen’s ghost haunt you, sir.
There are plenty of novels that follow in the footsteps of Austen to enrich and enlarge the rom-com genre in exciting and surprising ways. Here are few adaptations of Austen along with some original rom-coms that will give you exactly what you need right now—the knowledge that the dark forest isn’t forever and isn’t where the story ends. Everything is going to turn out okay in the end…at least in these novels.
And if you want to re-watch the great romantic comedies referenced in Season 2, episode 5. I’ve got a list of those for you, too. Keep the faith, readers. Or, as Ted Lasso would say “BELIEVE!”