An interview with a ‘Ted Lasso’ subreddit moderator
Welcome to Small Talk, a series where we catch up with the internet’s favorite Extremely Online individuals offline.
So you binged Ted Lasso and now you can’t stop talking about the show? Same. Who hasn’t?
If your loved ones are tired of hearing you drone on about AFC Richmond and a kind mustachioed coach who knows nothing about soccer — er, football — fear not. Simply turn to the Ted Lasso subreddit and immerse yourself in a community of more than 70,000 superfans who gush over episodes, point out Easter eggs, and unpack elaborate show theories on the regular.
That’s what Tessa Senders, a 23-year-old grad student in New York, did. And now she’s volunteering behind-the-scenes as one of the subreddit’s 11 moderators.
Season 2 of the Apple TV+ comedy starring Jason Sudeikis may have ended, but r/TedLasso discussions are still going strong. We reached out to Senders (whose Reddit username is quaranTV) to learn what it’s like to moderate one of the most wholesome and cheery, yet surprisingly deep and thoughtful spaces online. And we chatted about everything from Season 2 finale reactions and AMAs with the show’s stars to our shared controversial ship: Ted and Rebecca.
A look at the delightful “Ted Lasso” corner of Reddit.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / REDDIT
Mashable: What initially inspired you to become a moderator for r/TedLasso?
Tessa Senders: Yeah, so it was during the pandemic. It was my first year of grad school and honestly besides grad school, which was totally virtual, there was not a lot going on. I was just watching a lot of TV and I was annoying my family by talking about TV. And so I was like, “I want to go on Reddit and talk about TV.”
I started watching Ted Lasso a little late, actually. I think the whole first season had already come out. And I was a little hesitant, because I was like, “Oh, another sports show.” And then after the first episode I was hooked. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this show is incredible.” It is so genuinely funny. The dialogue is clever and quick, but it also [has] heartfelt, likable characters. It has everything I like in a TV show. So I joined the subreddit to discuss the show and the subreddit didn’t have too many people and not a lot of mods. And a couple of months after I joined they put out a post and said they were looking for help moderating. And I was like, “You know what? I’ve never done it, but like Ted Lasso I’m gonna try something a little new.” And I applied and I was really excited to be selected. It’s been great.
What are some of your responsibilities as a moderator?
So there’s a group of 11 of us and we’ve all kind of taken on different things. Some of the mods really focus on designing the physical layout of the subreddit and creating the artwork. A couple of other mods took charge on reaching out to Apple and the actors and their representatives, so we’ve had a couple AMAs, which was really fun. I kind of do what I would say is the daily grunt work, but I really like it.
So I go through what’s called the mod queue, and basically people will flag things like spam. When I joined there were probably like 10,000 or 11,000 people and it’s up to 70,000 now, which is amazing growth for such a short time period. Now that the subreddit has gotten more popular we do get some spam that we have to remove, but for the most part there aren’t any rude comments. It’s honestly a really positive subreddit.
I wanted to ask you about that because I know moderating subreddits, or any online space with a large number of people who are exchanging opinions, can sometimes be very challenging. But I also know that Ted Lasso is rooted in kindness, so I was curious if the show’s messaging translated to the subreddit.
Definitely. I’m on a bunch of subreddits and personally I feel it’s one of the more positive ones. There are very few negative comments. The biggest thing has honestly been that people are so excited to talk about the show that sometimes they forget [they’re posting] spoilers in the title, so we have to remove those if it’s the day after the episode came out. That’s probably been one of the most challenging things, because everyone’s so excited to talk about the episode, but we have to be respectful of people who can’t stay up till midnight to watch it come out.
Oh, that’s so nice to hear. I hoped it was as wholesome and respectful behind the scenes as it looks upfront.
It really is. And even the mod group is so amazing. We had a little Zoom chat when we all joined as mods to get to know each other and plan who’s going to do what and make our goals for the subreddit. Everyone was all different ages and backgrounds, but they’re just so positive and in love [with] the show, so it’s a really nice group and a nice little place on the internet.
Rest assured: This subreddit is better than tea.
Credit: APPLE TV+
I know you mentioned a few moderators work on the layout. I love how the first rule of the subreddit is, “Be curious, not judgmental.” And then subscribers are called Diamond Dogs, and there are almost 70,000 of them. That’s huge!
Yeah! The mods came up with the rules together and they’re definitely based on the show. And we had like a little vote and decided on Diamond Dogs as our main membership name.
You also mentioned the subreddit’s AMAs. Can you tell me a bit more about those?
Yeah, I have to give credit to moderators automaticzero and chelseanyc200 who organized those. They were amazing. We had Brendan Hunt [who plays Coach Beard] and Cristo Fernández [who plays Dani Rojas] and they were so great. The actors were so generous with their time and stayed long after they had to and answered as many questions as they could. And the questions were all really positive and on topic. It was good.
I read through both AMAs before we spoke and the actors did give such thoughtful responses. I do have to say that I saw someone asked Cristo if he could be on any other show what would he choose. And he said, “I really love White Lotus,” and I screamed. I was like, “Oh my gosh this is the kind of behind-the-scenes Ted Lasso content I crave.” And I’m sure so many fans of the show who haven’t found the subreddit yet would absolutely love it. Do you hope to do more AMAs in the future?
Definitely. I know the mods who’ve been running the AMAs have been in contact with Apple and some of the other actors. It was one of those things where, understandably, the actors were nervous. [You don’t know] what are people going to ask and there have been notorious AMAs that have gone off the rails. But Brendan Hunt was so gracious to do our first one. And it went well, and I think it was like,
“Oh. This could be like a great way to interact with the fans and promote the show.” So we did the second one and we’re in talks so hopefully we’ll have some more in the future.
In addition to normal posts I noticed the subreddit has individual episode discussion threads, which is awesome. What have those been like during Season 2? Were they popping off?
Yes! It’s crazy. So that’s another thing that I do — I create the episode discussion threads. I post them a couple hours before an episode comes out and pretty much immediately after an episode drops there’s already hundreds of comments. People are so excited to discuss. I personally liked the weekly release, because people could also kind of theorize about what they thought was going to happen —especially with Rebecca’s plot this season and Nate’s plot. So it was just really interesting. And people post really well-thought-out theories. They even point out things I didn’t catch.
We don’t HATE it.
Credit: APPLE TV+
Is there a post that really blew your mind during these past few months?
Oh, that’s a good one. I don’t know if it was in an episode discussion, but there were two things. One was comparing the Ted Lasso plot to You’ve Got Mail. People were kind of analyzing and pointing out parallels and stuff, even in the first season how Ted and Rebecca are sort of work enemies and then that dynamic changes. And then the other big one was people have pointed out tons of Wizard of Oz references, like the biscuits are like the yellow brick road, and Ted is like Dorothy, and all these things, and that blew my mind.
I remember seeing an Easter egg about how even the usernames on Bantr were related to You’ve Got Mail, and I had a mind blown moment too. If you’re not laser-focused on every scene you’re sure to miss something.
Yeah, someone pointed out that the screen names are variations of what they used in You’ve Got Mail and I was like, “That is so cute.” People were pointing out every little detail and all the references in the rom-com episode. It was fantastic.
Is there an episode or maybe a storyline that you’d say got the biggest reaction on the subreddit this past season?
Oh my gosh, I mean, the two big ones were Nate and then Sam and Rebecca. Nate got the biggest reaction for sure. People were like, “Oh my god, no! Nate why are you doing this?!” Especially the episode where he’s secretly bullying the kit man at the end.
Ugh, Nate! OK, I know it’s nearly impossible to choose, but do you personally have a favorite character?
I think my favorite character has to be Roy. He steals every scene he’s in, it’s incredible. Since the beginning he’s been the gruff character with a heart of gold. I think that’s always such a fun character — he’s swearing and this, and that, but he’s really one of the nicest characters and just cares about people, you know?
Brett Goldstein truly killed it this season.
Yes! This season was really good for Roy. Him in the beginning of the season on the sports talk show — he was so funny.
That was so good, oh my gosh.
“You had me at coach!”
Credit: APPLE TV+
OK what about a favorite episode?
Favorite episode would be “Make Rebecca Great Again.” I think that’s a lot of peoples’ favorite, but I have to join the bandwagon. One thing in particular I really like is like the portrayal of female friendship in that episode. I did Girl Scouts growing up and they always say, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other is gold.” And I know it’s cheesy but it was like such a great portrayal of that. Like Sassy was not threatened by Keeley, and Keeley wasn’t threatened by Sassy, and they were all able to get along. It wasn’t like a competition over Rebecca.
Speaking of that powerful scene, who appears by Ted’s side during that panic attack? Rebecca. I read a few of your recent posts before our call and I was especially excited to talk to you because I saw we’re both members of a very small group of Ted Lasso fans who ship Rebecca and Ted. Since I’m sure many fans reading this Q&A are screaming “NO!” right now, could you make a quick case for them as a couple?
Yes! So I know a lot of people just want them to be friends, but just because something happens a lot in shows or movies doesn’t necessarily means it’s bad, as long as it’s written and set up well. I think Ted and Rebecca are each other’s guardian angels. They come through for each other in their moments of need since the beginning. Rebecca is there when he has his panic attack. He brings her biscuits, right, and is always supporting her.
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I love in the Season 2 Christmas episode how Ted’s in a really bad state — he’s away from his son — and Rebecca comes to the window and is sort of like his guardian angel in that moment. And then he helps her at the church when she’s struggling to give the eulogy. So I think they’re kind of what the other needs. They also have so many parallels in their stories — their relationships with their fathers and their own personal romantic relationships. So yeah, I think they’re soulmates.
I mean, I’m convinced! They have such amazing chemistry, and I love the fact that if they ever do get together it won’t have been rushed. They’ll have gone through a necessary amount of soul searching before they give it a try, because they mean so much to each other and they want to make sure they’re both ready before they cross that line.
Exactly. It was so poignant this season how writers kind of kept them apart a lot. They both had to work on themselves. Like Rebecca needed to figure out like what she was looking for in a relationship and Ted of course needed to work through his personal issues. He’s always trying to help others, but he had to help himself first. And before you get in a relationship with someone you want to be in a good place yourself. So I liked that this season they were both working on themselves.
Yes. Well, Jason Sudeikis and the writers of Ted Lasso, if you’re reading this, please consider Ted and Rebecca for us. Thank you!
Season 2 is over, but the subreddit is still such a popular place for fans to connect and unpack the show. I know we ended with Roy and Keeley drama, Ted and Nate drama, and my personal idol Trent Crimm leaving his job. What are your hopes for Season 3?
I love Trent! I am so excited to see what they have in store for him. I know they said he’s coming back, so I’m excited to see what his role is going to be. And then the Nate thing will be so interesting, because they could really go in either direction. They can redeem him or not, so I am excited to see what they end up doing.
Finally, for fans who haven’t joined in on the fun yet, what’s your favorite thing about the Ted Lasso subreddit? Why will people enjoy it?
I would say the community. It’s just such a lovely, welcoming community and there’s so much amazing analysis. Like I’m not even kidding you, there’s a post comparing the entire show to The Wizard of Oz. It’s mind-blowing and brilliant. I would say come for the lovely community, stay for the amazing analysis.
I love that the subreddit offers fans a space to like get deep and obsess over a common interest. Now I don’t feel ridiculous for thinking about this show every waking moment of every day, right? It’s nice knowing that 70,000 other people are thinking about it, too.
Yes, exactly. There’s a bunch of us who want to think about this lovely, funny, heartwarming show and talk about it as much as we can.
Alright, Tessa. This has been so lovely. Any final thoughts?
Like I said, it’s a team effort. I’m one of 11…and I just realized there’s a line in Season 1 where Ted tells Jamie he’s one of 11! Woah.
Full circle, baby!
So I’m one of 11 and the subreddit wouldn’t be where it is without every single person.
Ted Lasso is now streaming on Apple TV+.