The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.
Before I watched S2 E05 of Ted Lasso, I saw this tweet thread from a friend:
I only really had Apple+ for Ted Lasso, but I’m just really not feeling it this series… Two people just did a piece to camera, out of nowhere. Sat in the football crowd, speaking to the camera — I thought they’d reveal a person where the camera was, but no. Just an out of nowhere PTC.
I was intrigued. When I watched the episode, I realised that the scene in question was a tribute to the interviews from When Harry Met Sally (one of many rom-com references in the episode).
This is what Film Crit Hulk said about it in his recap:
When they went to the fans and did the When Harry Met Sally interview right to the camera I was dying. Once again, they are just totally unapologetic in the rule breaking. I love it.
Of course, both of their reactions are valid. If you got the reference: what a treat! But if you didn’t, then it’s a really bizarre, out-of-place scene that makes no sense whatsoever.
As you can probably guess, I’m the kind of person who loves a good pop-culture reference. (As someone who struggles a lot with belonging, my soul is actively on the lookout for any evidence that I might be part of some group. You know that thing? I know that thing too!!)
So this got me wondering: if you’re going to do them, what’s the best way to do them?
And that, in turn, made me think of The Simpsons.
• • •
I started watching that show when I was around ten, long before I developed any real pop-culture knowledge.1 And yet, I never once watched an episode and thought: what was that about?
And I think that’s because most of their references fell into these two categories:
So while I loved it, that’s maybe why the Ted Lasso scene wasn’t as effective: it didn’t make sense if you weren’t familiar with When Harry Met Sally (and was possibly even actively confusing), and it might have lasted for a bit too long (it was around thirty seconds or so).
In other words: if we’re going to include references, they have to work for everyone on some level.