The Peabody Awards begin announcing recipients of their 2021 honors, and chief among them in the comedy realm, Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso and CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Here are their citations and acceptance speeches, with appearances also from Will Ferrell and Steve Carell!
The premise of this wildly popular show from Apple TV+ has all the markings of a formulaic cornball dud. A seemingly homespun and loquacious American football coach from Kansas is hired to run a London “football” team—soccer, of course, a sport about which he knows nothing. The new owner (the wonderful Hannah Waddingham) intends to drive the team into the ground as revenge against her adulterous ex-husband who lost his ownership in the divorce. What this presumably Ugly American, fish-out-of-water tale offers instead is a charming dose of radical optimism, with an equally endearing Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso. It turns out that more than simply a sports coach, Ted is remarkably good at honest communication with others, affecting change by being a deeply good human being, one with his own quiet anxieties and pain. Indeed, much of the personal transformations in the characters and their extended relationships occurs through the ripple effect of Ted’s radiant optimism and intensely sincere, if folksy, good will. Those who typically would be treated as minor or marginalized characters such as Keely, the soccer star’s model girlfriend, and Nate the Great, the diminutive South Asian locker room assistant, become significant change agents of Ted’s philosophy—the Lasso Way—that when we “BELIEVE,” all manner of positive things will happen. For offering the perfect counter to the enduring prevalence of toxic masculinity, both on-screen and off, in a moment when the nation truly needs inspiring models of kindness, Ted Lasso wins a Peabody.
THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT
The Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 should have proven deadly to late-night television, a genre heavily dependent on the connection between the comedian host and a live audience. With New York filming restrictions in place, Stephen Colbert decided to move production of his CBS Late Show to his home outside of Charleston, South Carolina. What resulted was a temporary but remarkably successful transformation of the late-night television model by a host inviting us into his home, rather than his typical comforting presence in our living rooms and bedrooms. But the success of The Late Show’s transformation was the product of more than just these spatial changes. Amidst suffering in a global pandemic, a public fed up with police violence against African Americans, and a morally contemptuous president fighting for his political life, Colbert’s genuine and deeply felt ethical nature provided a nightly salve the nation desperately needed in such ferment. Colbert’s righteous indignation at politicians who put themselves above the public good may have turned off certain audiences, but for others, his humanity, kindness, and gentle spirit offered the kind of guiding national voice of old, one that reminded us that despite our very real and immediate challenges, we would persevere and endure as a nation. For combining comedy with genuine goodness at one of our darkest hours, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert wins a Peabody.