Lasso in NYRB

The New York Review of Books writes about the writing in Ted Lasso, and an Apple marketing executive checks off one more objective reached as Apple TV+ becomes strives to become known as the streaming age's HBO.

Perhaps the greatest literary move of Season 2 is the redemption (that is, re-seeing) of Rick Astley’s 1987 “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The song is one of pop history’s most sentimental and most grating earworms, as well as the origin of the bait-and-switch Rickrolling Internet prank. Episode 10, though, revolving around the repercussions of Ted’s and Rebecca’s teenage traumas (a father’s suicide and a father’s adultery, respectively), finds a way to use the song in a wholly unfamiliar way. At the funeral of Rebecca’s philandering father, Rebecca is supposed to give his eulogy. “I don’t really know what to say…my father was….” she trails off. Then lightly, tenderly, she begins, “We’re no strangers to love/You know the rules and so do I…” and continues singing, in a stumbling yet lovely a cappella, the first verse of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” When she breaks down, Ted takes up the verse from the back row of the church. Soon all the mourners join in unison.

The song is re-seen, transformed from a saccharine teenage tonic to a strange elegy for a man whose adult daughter still struggles to reconcile her conflicting feelings about him. Such re-seeing or “making new again” gets a special name in literary studies: defamiliarization. It comes from a transliteration of a Russian word that the theorist and critic Viktor Shklovsky invented to describe those moments in literature that make a reader see something in a new light or from a wholly different angle, as if seeing it for the first time.

In fairness the article gives credit where it's due, in an appreciation of just how carefully the show was written (not to mention how well it was acted by all involved.) Fine work all round.

See also...