A.J. Catoline, Melissa McCoy Reflect On Editing "Ted Lasso"
Melissa McCoy
The power of goodness, a stellar cast, storytelling that is far more than just comedic drive a show that’s earned 20 Emmy nominations, a Peabody Award, and 2 ACE Eddie nominations

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) is special to editors A.J. Catoline and Melissa McCoy on varied fronts. For one, this year each earned a first career ACE Eddie Award nomination--Catoline for “The Hope That Kills You” episode, and McCoy actually winning the Eddie for the “Make Rebecca Great Again” installment of Ted Lasso.

Then earlier this month, Catoline and McCoy became first-time Emmy nominees for those same respective episodes.

But perhaps even more significant than the awards recognition--the nods for editing being just two of 20 overall bestowed upon Ted Lasso--has been the opportunity for McCoy and Catoline to contribute to a series that is much more than just a comedy, some might even say it’s comedy with a purpose. It’s not a purpose rooted in a social issue but rather the power of kindness--so much so that the series won a Peabody Award last month.

Peabody jurors described Ted Lasso as “a smart, funny, captivating celebration of good-heartedness.” Jason Sudeikis portrays the title character, a folksy American college football coach who is enticed to the U.K. to lead a down-on-their luck Premiere League soccer team. The show’s heart comes from the quietly radical way that Lasso, a man in a position of power, chooses kindness at every turn without sacrificing his authority. He coaches a highly competitive group of athletes to perform at the highest level by embracing vulnerability, empathy and decency. Peabody judges characterized Lasso as “affecting change by being a deeply good human, one with his own quiet anxieties and pain. The Apple TV+ series is 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.”

This inspired spirit lends a new dimension to comedy. Catoline explained that the show “is not paced like a comedy,” departing from the norm which has been to keep comedy fast, getting to the joke quickly and then on to the next laugh. Catoline recalled that early on he had been cutting with that rule of thumb in mind. Bill Lawrence, who created Ted Lasso with Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly and Sudeikis, took Catoline aside one day, sharing that Sudeikis is going for something different--it’s not always about the joke. The show is driven by character moments which from an editing perspective means the need, Catoline observed,  to “stop time,” to linger a beat on reactions, “pregnant pauses” where audiences can feel the joke, see the reactions on character’s faces, to allow the cast’s facial expressions to speak. Catoline said the show is blessed by a cast that is so talented and able to deliver those nuanced, genuine performances.

“Jason knows so much about comedy and how it plays,” assessed Catoline. He knows how to “give people a chance to breathe,” creating “room for inhales and exhales,” allowing the audience “to laugh and reflect.” Catoline affirmed that it’s been most gratifying “to learn the Ted Lasso way of editing.”

In that same vein, McCoy marvels at the work of the cast. For her nominated episode (“Make Rebecca Great Again”) from season one, for example, she recalled, “When you watch the dailies and see such wonderful performances, the work that the actors are doing, you feel such a sense of responsibility to rise to the occasion and pick their best takes...to put it all together in a powerful, meaningful way.” The series is driven by “a deep bench of actors” who give an editor myriad possibilities.

Sudeikis said something that stuck with McCoy. He observed that “every human being is going through a comedy and a tragedy.” In Ted Lasso all the characters, said McCoy, are going through “real-life experiences like divorce, shame, pain, childhood trauma. You can find comedy, laughter in those times that are so true to life.” All this is melded together to create “a show that is so special to me,” affirmed the editor.

Special to the point, that even if she weren’t working on the series, McCoy is confident she’d be a “Ted Head” fan. “I truly love the show.”

Catoline added that Sudeikis also said something special to him--but in character as Lasso in episode 2. “Ted tells Sam (Obisanya, a soccer player portrayed by Toheeb Jimoh) to be a goldfish,” recollected Catoline. This offbeat advice comes after Obisanya makes a mistake on the field. Coach Lasso explained that the animal with the shortest memory is a goldfish, meaning not to linger and bemoan the past but to move on. Catoline said that the message resonated with him--to be a goldfish, to be present, to live in the moment, try your best, be kind and compassionate. If you have a human failing, don’t internalize it. Try to move on.

For Catoline a big part of the show is to “admit your vulnerability.” In that respect, he shared that both he and McCoy are known to have shed a tear or two while cutting emotional, inspiring moments of Ted Lasso.

While they are each credited separately with editing respective episodes of the show, McCoy and Catoline said that in the big picture they were constantly working together, going back and forth between their edit suites to figure out the first season in tandem. It’s been a creative relationship they both value as they struck up a rapport from the outset. Ted Lasso marks their first collaboration. And they are jointly credited with cutting the “For the Children” season one episode.

McCoy’s entree into the series was in part due to her working relationship with Lawrence, having teamed with him on multiple episodes of the ABC series Whiskey Cavalier. During that time Lawrence was “workshopping” Ted Lasso with Sudeikis, piquing McCoy’s interest in the show. She recalled saying to Whiskey Cavalier producer Kip Kroeger to keep her in mind to edit Ted Lasso if it comes to pass.

Meanwhile helping Catoline get his foot in the door was that he worked with Sudeikis on a History Channel project at one point in which the actor/comedian spoofed Thomas Edison. Catoline also knew Kroeger who became supervising producer on Ted Lasso. The editor was brought into the series fold before he fully realized the full depth of the show. But when he subsequently saw finished scripts, began to see the footage coming in, he realized that his first foray into a Bill Lawrence production was for something much more than a comedy.

Catoline shared, “If you had asked me about a year ago if I would be nominated for an Emmy, I wouldn’t have believed it.” But Ted Lasso has taught him the lesson that you have to “believe in yourself,” in your talent and that beautiful things can happen.

McCoy simply said of the Emmy nomination that it’s been “very special” to “pour my heart and soul into a show and have it so warmly received.”

Editor’s note: This is the 12th installment in SHOOT’s 16-part weekly The Road To Emmy Series of feature stories. The features will explore the field of Emmy contenders, and then nominees spanning such disciplines as directing, writing, producing, showrunning, cinematography, editing, production design, music, sound and visual effects. The Road To Emmy series will then be followed by coverage of the Creative Arts Emmy winners in September, and then the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony on September 19 broadcast live on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

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