This post contains disclosure for “Ted Lasso” season 3, episode 7 “The Strings That Bind Us.”
One of the happiest luck character in “Ted Lasso” is Sam Obisanya, AFC Richmond midfielder and Nigerian restaurateur played by Toheeb Jimoh (“The Power”). Even when a billionaire called him a “middle talent” and swore at him, Sam could still strut his stuff. In “The Strings That Bind Us,” however, Sam’s jovial, unshakable demeanor finally cracks when he finds himself and his restaurant suffering from racism and vandalism. It all started when he gave some polite responses on social media to the UK Home Secretary’s anti-refugee stance. Sam was quickly shouted down and asked to “Shut up and dribble”, a message that would also sabotage the graffiti vandals inside his restaurant.
In the locker room, Sam explodes at the evils of the world, and it’s the first time we’ve really seen things come up for him on “Ted Lasso.” However, his story is faced with problems faced by real English players like Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka, and it does so without leaving Black vulnerable in Sam’s defining moment, in the way exploitative entertainment often does. In an interview with GQJimoh says:
“I think everything we did with Sam was handled really sensitively. He was extremely politically active and a lot of the plot, even went back to Dubai Air in season 2 and didn’t want to. got the little soldier guy in season 1, which shows that’s an important part of him.But like you said, we see a lot of times on TV with Black or African characters. [a focus on trauma]. The writers really want to prioritize fun and they want to prioritize Sam looking for family and finding love because it’s a relatively small part of Sam’s story.”
The price of doing the right thing
As Toheeb Jimoh commented, “Ted Lasso” season 3 is not the first time Sam has dabbled in political issues. In season 2 episode, “Do the Right-est Thing”, Sam stopped advertising for Dubai Air after learning from his father that the oil company behind it was responsible for the pollution in Nigeria. This means he has to put himself in jeopardy as Dubai Air is the sponsor of AFC Richmond. However, Sam had the full support of the other players and they even covered the Dubai Air logo on his uniform with tape when he went on the field before Sam spoke out against the airline and the government. Nigeria in a press conference.
In that case, Sam’s criticism directed outward at the two foreign entities. It was when he dared to step out of line and criticize the UK Home Secretary, that he became the target of hate crimes in the UK. Jimoh continued GQ:
“I’m glad we shed some light on sometimes being a Black football player, you know. When people love you and you score goals, that’s great. But as soon as you do it. something stands out, and then suddenly you’re seen as Black in a predominantly white country. just be a happy kid.”
Thankfully, AFC Richmond backs up Sam once again, as we see when he arrives at his restaurant and finds his teammates all contributing to the cleanup effort. In that moment, it was enough to restore one’s faith in humanity, in line with The “Believe” theme of “Ted Lasso.”
New episodes of “Ted Lasso” season 3 stream every Wednesday on Apple TV+.
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