The cast of hit comedy series “Ted Lasso” was meeting President Joe Biden on Monday to promote mental health awareness, but the actors’ message was briefly eclipsed by a disgruntled journalist’s live-television outburst in the White House briefing room.
Jason Sudeikis, who stars as Ted Lasso, a baffled American football coach at a dysfunctional English soccer club, led fellow actors onto the daily briefing room podium alongside Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter who you voted for, we all probably — I assume we all know someone… that’s struggled, that’s felt isolated, that’s felt anxious, that’s felt alone,” Sudeikis told reporters.
That caring message — building off the mental health challenges that the Lasso character faces in the series — was, however, derailed briefly when a journalist began heckling.
The reporter for online outlet Today News Africa broke the storied briefing room’s unwritten rules by loudly repeating that he was not picked by Jean-Pierre to ask questions as often as he wanted, sparking uproar from other journalists as he refused to stop shouting.
A grim-faced Jean-Pierre, still standing next to the “Ted Lasso” actors, eventually threatened to call off the briefing and the heckler fell quiet.
Noting that verbal jousting was a norm for the briefing room, and had been for decades, Jean-Pierre said: “What I will not appreciate is disrespecting your colleagues and disrespecting guests who are here to talk — were here to talk — about an incredibly important issue, which is mental health.”
The Apple TV+ series, the third season of which premiered March 15, delves into various characters’ mental health, with storylines tackling issues with bullying, anger, relationships and self-esteem, as well as panic attacks.
“‘Ted Lasso’ has inspired the world through its universal themes around optimism, kindness and determination, and the Lasso philosophy to ‘believe,'” Apple TV+ said in a statement, as reported by entertainment news outlet Deadline.
Biden on Sunday tweeted a photo of the Oval Office with a sign reading “BELIEVE” taped above the door — a reference to Lasso’s mantra.
The Biden administration said it has expanded mental health resources for young people and provided nearly $500 million to help states transition to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Anyone experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis can access confidential counseling by calling or texting 988 in the United States to reach the hotline.
“Ted Lasso” won Emmys in 2022 and 2021 for best comedy, best lead actor in a comedy for Sudeikis and best supporting actor in a comedy for Brett Goldstein, among other wins.
After winning in 2021, Sudeikis said the show was about family, mentors and teachers, and teammates.
“And I wouldn’t be here without those three things in my life,” he said.