Remember the karaoke scene from Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 7?
Watching the characters sing, have fun, and be silly led to a couple of realizations.
Ted Lasso doesn't need heavy plotting to be entertaining, and wouldn't it be great if the show did an episode where the characters don't do much but hang out?
Fittingly, the Christmas-themed Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 4 grants this wish.
As the characters take time out to celebrate Christmas, so do the plots. There's no Sharon. Football talk is kept to a minimum. There's only a brief reference to the Dubai Air protest from Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 3.
Jan Maas: I brought fried chicken.
Higgins: Aw, is that a Christmas tradition in Holland?
Jan Maas: No.
On other shows, hitting the pause button on ongoing storylines would be annoying. On Ted Lasso, it's delightful.
A big reason why it's successful is because of the effort Ted Lasso put into the characters' dynamics.
When Julie remarks this is the largest turnout from the football team they've ever had, it's not surprising. Not too long ago, Richmond was nothing but a pack of quarrelsome, bullying jocks. Now, when Higgins says they're family, it's true.
Dani: We're not going to make it. Tell my incredibly beautiful wife I love her.
Thierry: I'm not going to do that cause you'll tell her yourself. Then you're going to hook me up with her identical, beautiful, twin sister.
Because we've witnessed their transformation into a family, it doesn't come off as contrived for the players to want to spend Christmas with each other and the Higgins family.
The love and camaraderie are real, making it fun to watch them play video games and have Nerf gunfights.
Nothing earth-shattering happens in those scenes, but they're entertaining because of the visuals, the dialogue, and the characters' eccentricities. Dani and Thierry pretending to be spies or soldiers pinned under fire was an excellent bit of comedy.
The players' interactions with the Higgins family were heartwarming on a couple of different levels.
Not once did the players think it was beneath them to spend the holiday with kids and teenagers. On the contrary, Sam convincing the youngest Higgins child to believe in Santa was sweet on its own and set up the ending perfectly.
The players' attitude towards the Higgins family reflects how much they (and the show) respect Higgins.
All too easily, Ted Lasso could have written Higgins as a villain but not even a cool villain. He would be the ineffectual villain the heroes outwit without breaking a sweat. He would be the stiff-necked traditionalist who hated Ted's changes. Instead, he was one of Ted's earliest supporters.
He was ineffectual as Rebecca's lackey during Ted Lasso Season 1 but because he opposed Rebecca's plan rather than incompetence.
He's on the business side of the football club, but he's never the money guy who cares more about the bottom line than he does about the club. As a result, the show allows Higgins to be right on important matters, like hiring Sharon and bringing back Jamie.
Ted Lasso's treatment of characters like Higgins is what sets it apart from other shows, and the show rightfully celebrates it.
Something else Ted Lasso rightfully celebrates -- Roy Kent as the world's greatest uncle and Keeley Jones as the world's greatest de facto aunt.
Of course, it's effortless to be devoted to Phoebe since Elodie Bloomfield is pitch-perfect in the role. It was a good choice to give her more screentime this season.
Kids are usually seen as the kiss of death to TV romances, but making Phoebe a big presence in Roy and Keeley's lives adds more depth to their relationship.
What have you got to be sad about? Did one of the Paw Patrol dogs die?Roy
Roy and Keeley have developed an entertaining good-cop/bad-cop rapport. It is hilarious watching her curb Roy's impulse to beat up small children. It has the added benefit of forcing Roy to be more creative in his problem solving, which is how we got an adorable Love Actually homage to wrap up the story.
More platonically, Rebecca saves Ted from his darker impulses as well.
The Rebecca and Ted portion of the episode has a lot in common with Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 4. Both feature Ted and Rebecca doing charity work and helping the other deal with the fallout from their divorces.
The episodes are not so similar as to be repetitive, but the commonalities help you appreciate how much Ted, Rebecca, and their relationship has changed since Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 4.
The dynamic seems to have shifted, so Rebecca is predominately raising Ted's spirits these days.
Rebecca: How's FaceTime Christmas with Henry going?
Ted: I lost him to an overpriced guilt gift. Hubris, thy name is Ted.
Another connection Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 4 and Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 4 share is the prominence of buskers on both episodes. Once is a novelty, twice, and appropriately enough to occur on the Christmas episode, is a tradition.
Ted Lasso is different in tone and approach from other Bill Lawrence comedies: Scrubs, Spin City, and Cougar Town.
But the prominence of buskers and how Ted Lasso uses music, in general, feels very Lawrence, which is to the show's benefit, considering how good the music is on Ted Lasso.
The Christmas-themed credits made the viewing experience extra special. The claymation versions of the characters were beyond cute and in-character.
All the Christmas touches were executed well, including the Santa Claus cameo. Even if TV shows didn't bend the rules for holiday episodes, it makes perfect sense Santa would want to be around the AFC Richmond family.
Can Keeley ink Dani and Thierry an action movie deal?
Will Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 4 continue the busker tradition?
Becca Newton is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.