During Season 2, Episode 11 of the hit Apple TV+ original Ted Lasso, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) name-drops University of British Columbia Professor Suzanne Simard, an expert on forestry and the environment, and her work after Coach Nate (Nick Mohammed) complains about never getting any credit as a strategist.
Coach Beard says:
You know, we used to believe that trees competed with each other for light. Suzanne Simard’s field work challenged that perception, and we now realize that the forest is a socialist community. Trees work in harmony to share the sunlight.
Simard’s inbox saw an onslaught of congratulatory emails after the episode aired, but the UBC professor and forestry expert had never even heard of Ted Lasso — reports CBC.
“I started getting all these emails going, ‘You just got mentioned by Ted Lasso and his TV show,’ and I’m like, ‘Who’s Ted Lasso?’ And people started sending me the clip and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ Everybody seemed so excited about it,” she said.
Simard was never contacted by the show’s creators about being mentioned in the episode, and she doesn’t even know how the writers came across her work in the field. She suspects it has something to do with her most recent book, Finding the Mother Tree, though.
Finding the Mother Tree made it onto the New York Times bestseller list, and one of the writers probably ended up reading it.
Simard has been studying forests for the entirety of her 40-year career, and also leads the Mother Tree Project at the University of British Columbia.
The Ted Lasso quote from Coach Beard summarizes her findings of how trees in forests thrive by working together and sharing resources, not by out-competing others.
“I discovered that trees have like an internet below ground and that they communicate and share resources and collaborate through these vast mycelial fungal networks,” said Simard.
“I discovered that forests are social communities — that’s why he said socialist or whatever — whereas until now we thought forests are just a bunch of trees competing with each other.”
Simard went on to say that having a more public persona is “nice”, but she hopes that, more than anything, the show mentioning her and her work garners more public attention to climate change and the environment.
“I feel like … this is what we need, this kind of publicity over science. And so I’m happy about that.”
Ted Lasso has been a hot commodity for Apple TV+ ever since it debuted, with the first episode of its second season marking the platform’s biggest premiere day ever. The series won 7 Emmy awards last month, as well as Program of the Year at the 2021 Television Critics Association Awards.