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‘Ted Lasso’ Editors on the Series’ Unexpected Joys and Challenges: ‘I Cry Editing This Show’

Melissa McCoy and A.J. Catoline on the emotional editing process and how the show constantly surprises them

One summer ago, when the nation was fatigued from endless new cycles and in the thick of a deadly pandemic, a little comedy called “Ted Lasso” dropped on the AppleTV+ platform with a fairly normal debut series trajectory. And then the deafening buzz began when comfort-seekers latched onto mustachioed soccer coach Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and his unfazed, majestically optimistic outlook on life and work, even carving a portion of his day to impose whimsical wisdoms to his scrappy English team and also make delicious biscuits to win over his furtive new employer, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham).

The enveloping lovefest proves to be just as true off the set as anything you’re likely to see onscreen. “What I love about this show is that it’s about the relationships that come from sports, it’s not really about the game, it’s about what they’re going through”, says editor Melissa McCoy. “Jason is not only the actual Ted Lasso, but he’s Ted Lasso behind the scenes. He just elevates everybody.”

McCoy’s editing partner A.J. Catoline couldn’t agree more. “I’ll admit this…I cry editing this show. Because of our process piecing things in a non-linear way, it all hits me like a first-time viewer. The emotion is definitely there.”

The deeply felt, off-the-cuff feeling of the show is not often a product of major improvisation (though that is certainly a factor), but resides more in the shrewd cutting, with a surprisingly large ensemble in frames whereas many multi-cam comedies have a smaller pool of humans to cut to. “I like that we’re not a fast cut-and-paste show. With a network clock, you often cut for time and during Season 1, we were originally trying to deliver episodes that were maybe 25 to 28 minutes,” says McCoy. “But soon we realized that that’s not going to work for this project, Jason always talks about he wants this show to take time for the inhales and the exhales and to allow the characters to really react to each other.”

The result? Run times from 29-33 minutes that allow for more character and emotional exploration.

Sometimes this approach proves unexpected even to McCoy and Catoline when they are putting the show together. “It’s not improv like you’d see in something like “SNL,” it’s more improvised beats. But often, I don’t think the actors get scripts until right up to shooting. Right now, we’re editing episode 6 of Season 2, and we didn’t necessarily know how it was going to end.”

The series has already picked up an ACE Eddie Award for the impactful Season 1 episode “Make Rebecca Great Again”, in which the AFC Richmond team cheers on a game Hannah taking a karaoke stage by storm with a rousing version of “Let it Go” while Ted’s normally Teflon guard is momentarily let down and anxiety starts to get the better of him, resulting in a panic attack. Says McCoy, who took top ACE honors for the episode: “It was hard to cut to get that musicality right, plus we really wanted to make that journey feel like it could have been 10 minutes, or it could have been one minute. It was just a beautiful sequence to put together with a lot of storylines happening.” Though remote editing was not foreign to the “Ted Lasso” gang for its maiden voyage, going into a second season meant a whole new approach to their craft.

“I miss having the big TV monitors because so much of our show is the reactions of our amazing cast, the scowls of Roy Kent [Brett Goldstein] and silly faces of Keeley [Juno Temple] and Hannah gives us all that deep emotion,” says Catoline. “Comedy really plays in a room where you hear all that contagious laughter, but I was just talking to Jason, seeing him laugh over this little Zoom box and I just got chills. So, we’re still definitely feeling it.”