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Why Swagger Is Apple TV’s New Ted Lasso Replacement

Apple TV+’s new Kevin Durant-helmed Swagger may just fill the void for Ted Lasso fans, with the two series sharing a lot of common narrative ground.

Apple TV already has a new Ted Lasso replacement lined up in the form of Swagger. The new sports drama series from NBA legend Kevin Durant and director Reggie Rock Blythewood will premiere this week on Apple’s burgeoning streaming service almost four years after its inception. Early Swagger previews have drawn inevitable comparisons with another Apple TV+ original series, Ted Lasso, which also centers around an underdog team attempting to find their feet socially and professionally in a cut-throat professional sports landscape.

Kevin Durant’s Swagger explores the world of youth basketball while focusing on the players, their families, and coaches who “walk the fine line between dreams and ambition, and opportunism and corruption.” Despite a dedicated production team, Swagger’s release has been long overdue owed to a series of unlucky setbacks that significantly delayed filming. Former leading man Winston Duke had to be recast in February 2020 after suffering an injury on set, being replaced after a lengthy second casting spell by O’Shea Jackson Jr., before the coronavirus pandemic conspired to halt filming for a further 10 months. Despite a laundry list of delays, filming for Swagger wrapped in April 2021, giving the production a true underdog story feel as it overcame significant adversity at its most critical early stages.

It is unsurprising, then, that Swagger is already being touted as the next Ted Lasso from Apple TV+, with the two series appearing to share a similar message and tone. Swagger’s storyline on a tertiary level fits all of the hallmarks of Ted Lasso’s widespread appeal, albeit ported over to another sporting world while delivering a forthright message of unity for the sporting universe. Like Lasso before it, Swagger is also imbued with real-world parallels thanks to the biographical details from Kevin Durant’s life added to the series, prompting further parallels between the two shows.

In the aftermath of Ted Lasso’s shocking season 2 finale, Swagger can fill the sporting drama void left by the Jason Sudeikis-led series. Swagger’s previews promise an emotionally charged journey from youth basketball to NBA hopeful for Jace (Isiah Hill), who must contend with external pressures and a steep learning curve on the court in order to succeed. This path mirrors coach Lasso’s early narrative, who was forced to win hearts and minds at AFC Richmond after transferring into the dog-eat-dog world of Association Football in the U.K.

As much as Ted Lasso and Swagger’s sporting drama will always excite and delight, where Swagger can really step into its predecessor’s shoes for Apple TV is with its overall message. Ted Lasso’s success is built upon the idea that perseverance and a forthright approach in the world will always deliver deserved results at any level, whether in the Premier League, AFC Richmond football club’s boardroom, or out in the wider world. This is a mantra repeated by Swagger’s trailers, with their latest Apple TV+ preview accompanied by the poignant tagline “Talent is given. Greatness is made.” The real-life nous and experiences that Kevin Durant looks to have imparted on Swagger’s narrative also feels similar to Ted Lasso, whose first season, in particular, drew high praise for its accurate portrayal of the Football Association pyramid. In this way, Swagger is set up to take the sporting drama baton from Ted Lasso and successfully run with it for the foreseeable future.

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