The Apple problem
I'm late to the Ted Lasso party. I had heard from many people in many contexts how it was a great show that I would really enjoy and the I was missing out by not watching it, but there were two issues in addition to the general reality of there's-so-much-enjoyable-TV-these-days-and-only-so-much-time-I-can-watch. They were: a) It's a show set in the world of English soccer, and I do not like soccer; and b) It is a show on Apple TV+.
Now, (a) is not a problem, as it turns out; as with many workplace shows, the soccer thing is merely a setting for the characters and not liking soccer is not a detriment to enjoying the show. But (b) was a real trouble spot.
Apple's streaming platform has garnered a reputation (deserved) for quality. The programming is high-end, no doubt, and the high-definition stream is as good or better than anyone else's, but on that technical side of things there is no accommodation for viewers who do not have one of the following: An Apple-made television; a Roku or other reception device dedicated to streaming video; an Apple device like a Macintosh computer or an up-to-date iPhone that can run the TV+ app (there is an Android app, but it won't work on most Android devices); or a PC equipped with a top-end internet connection and supercharged modern processing hardware. They clearly tailor the service for Apple machines as a way to try and increase the Apple marketshare.
As I don't own any Apple hardware or a Roku-like dedicated streaming device, the Apple TV+ service was incredibly problematic to use. My dedicated streaming device is an old laptop PC running Windows 10 and hooked up to my television. It has perfectly adequate processing power to run any other streaming service with no problems. But trying to watch Apple TV+ on it was nearly impossible—livestreams, like when the Mariners are on the exclusive Apple TV Friday night telecast, play with more buffering and stuttering than is even remotely tolerable; and their shows would load and play through the opening preroll ad and then freeze up on a black screen. So, even though the Apple TV+ subscription fee is quite reasonable, it was basically worthless to me.
Still, I had two or three times signed up for the service in an attempt to legitimately watch one of the greatest shows ever made for television, For All Mankind. When I could not make the service work, I resorted to piracy to watch that excellent program. Because it is awesome, and I had given Apple a month's worth of subscription fee for zero return so I felt OK about it. But after the last time the Mariners game was unwatchable on Apple TV+, I went on a quest to find a way to make the damn thing work, and the ultimate solution was to completely wipe the laptop and reload a bare-bones Windows installation, add no programs to the machine except for browsers, a video player, and antivirus software. Give it the lightest workload possible while still running a relatively modern operating system, then tweak the browser settings in every conceivable way to prioritize the handling of video streams.
It now works. I can watch Apple TV+. Livestreams still suck, presumably because I don't have a T1 line and a massive quad-core processor on that old laptop, but recorded programming does play properly so long as nothing else is running concurrently. (Apple TV+ livestreams, incidentally, also suck on my office machine, which is considerably more powerful.)
I have therefore, as of last night, become a Ted Lasso convert.
All the folks who sang its praises to me were right. It unabashedly showcases a hero that is the nicest, most generous guy that ever lived, who takes mounds of abuse and lets it roll off his back, and who slowly wins over the critics by simply doing his own thing and being dedicated to his values. Totally my kind of thing. I love it. Even though it's ostensibly about a soccer team.
I'm about halfway through the first season now, so please no spoilers, but since the Mariners are off tonight I will likely spend my late-night tonight watching a few more episodes after I get home from my umpiring shift and will no doubt binge through the rest over the next few weeks.
Unless, of course, my brilliant machinations to run Apple TV+ stop working.