Hulu Just Totally Copied ‘Ted Lasso’ with Its ‘Chad Powers’ Series Order

No one loves Eli Manning as much as I do. Somewhere, I have a book on Manning inscribed, “To the only Giants fan who never booed Eli.” (Accurate.) There are the jerseys, cards, the autographs, the bobbleheads. I was at Eli’s first game, his retirement ceremony game, and so many in between. One time, I interviewed Manning while he was ostensibly promoting Frank’s RedHot Original sauce just so I could relive the glory days he never knew we shared. But I know a ripoff when I see one, and Hulu’s new series “Chad Powers” is a direct attempt to capitalize on the gigantic success of Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso.”

Before “Ted Lasso” was a show, Ted Lasso was a heightened fish-out-of-water original character created solely to promote a major media company’s sports brand. It was to be a one-and-done comedy skit. Before “Chad Powers” was a show, Chad Powers was, well, exactly that. (Also before Chad Powers there was Dreaj Foge: Jared Goff and Red Bull would probably like a word here.)

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Lasso was created and played by Jason Sudeikis to plug NBC Sports’ international soccer (“football” there) coverage. Chad Powers is a football player created and played by Eli Manning within his “Eli’s Places” web series for ESPN+. (ESPN is owned by Disney, which now wholly owns Hulu, the streamer that just turned “Chad Powers” into a sitcom.)

Both source-material sketches went viral on YouTube, and now both are streaming comedy series. Also, the title characters both have mustaches.

Imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery, we guess.

Look, you could do worse than copying “Ted Lasso” — especially if “Ted Lasso’s” Emmys follow. The truth is, we’ve all been saying that Hollywood is out of new ideas for probably decades. Now, it might be official.

Another comedic art form, stand-up comedy, has proven time and time again that not all apparent joke theft is actual theft. Much of it is merely like-minded thinking on a finite number of available topics. Our lives are one big shared premise.

And sometimes original material from Comic X gets absorbed on a subconscious level by Comic Y, who later regurgitates it as his or her own. It’s the Robin Williams defense, and is probably entirely legitimate in at least Williams’ case.

Plus, in lieu of more “Ted Lasso,” we need another “Ted Lasso.” In other words, we’re willing to forgive this heist — so long as “Chad Powers” is funny.

It helps, of course, that Chad Powers is funny.

On the coming 20th Television series, Eli will not be playing Powers. He’s no actor and has aged out of the concept anyway. Instead, Glen Powell will get the honors, and boy is it an honor to H_NGM_N.

“We’re both diehard college football fans. When we saw Eli as Chad Powers, we knew that was the way into a big, fun story about this world,” Powell said in a joint statement with his “Chad Powers” co-creator Michael Waldron. “We’re excited to be part of this team, and can’t wait to get Chad in the game. Think fast, run fast.”

Powell co-wrote the “Chad Powers” pilot and will executive produce the series; he also co-wrote his upcoming Netflix film “Hit Man,” already a hit at festivals.

“The love for Chad Powers has surprised me in spectacular ways,” Eli Manning added. “I played 16 years in the NFL, but now when I’m in a restaurant or walking through an airport, it’s not uncommon for fans to scream, ‘Hey Chad!’ I’m so excited to team up with my friends Glen Powell, Michael Waldron and Omaha Productions to continue to tell the Chad Powers story and see what he does next.”

Do better, “fans.” Do so much better.

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 3: Eli Manning #10 and head coach Tom Coughlin of New York Giants players celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants won the game 17-14. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Eli Manning; Tom Coughlin
Eli Manning celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008Getty Images

Like the “Ted Lasso” adaptation, the “Chad Powers” one has key differences from its own digital shorts. (The original Ted Lasso was dumber — and kind of a d*ck.)

This “Chad Powers” follows “hotshot” quarterback Russ Holliday, who, after bad behavior torpedos his college career, “disguises himself and walks onto a struggling Southern football team as the talented, affable Chad Powers.”

For what it’s worth, that’s a better premise than “Ted Lasso.”

Eli Manning and his brother Peyton Manning will executive produce under their Omaha Productions banner; Omaha did the “Eli’s Places” sketch with NFL Films. Jamie Horowitz, who cofounded Omaha Productions with the Manning brothers, also executive produces “Chad Powers.” Horowitz was vice president of ESPN’s original programming and production from 2012-2014, but that predated “Eli’s Places.”

Waldron and Adam Fasullo will produce for Anomaly Pictures.

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