In March 2023, Anne-Sophie and I (Sarah) jointly published a visualization on Ted Lasso and his pop culture references in Season 1 and 2. As such, this blogpost is co-written by the both of us to share our collaboration process & highlight the reasons that contributed to the success of this Viz. (Sarah’s Viz link, Anne-Sophie’s Viz link)
“I think things come into our lives to help us get from one place to a better one.”(Ted Lasso S2 E1)
At the heart of the success of this viz is collaboration. Anne-Sophie and Sarah met in the Spring of 2022 through Nicole Klassen’s #VizCollab initiative, a program that connects individuals who wish to collaborate on data viz projects.
So where did we begin?
Our collaboration kicked off with a zoom call, during which we chose the topic of our visualization: the TV series Ted Lasso. We noticed the show’s dialog is rich with pop culture references, and wondered what these references tell us about his character, upbringing, and passions?
The zoom calls quickly became a weekly occurrence. Not only did this cadence help to keep us on track, but it facilitated brainstorming & idea generation that truly gave the project some momentum.
We established a need to build our own data set by re-watching Seasons 1 (Sarah) and 2 (Anne-Sophie). There are a few articles and videos listing the show’s pop culture references but none of these provided an exhaustive list, not even in the IMDB connections pages (which have been so helpful for Anne-Sophie’s Buffy project).
Re-watching the episodes was super-fun and easy, but the real work came when it was time to build out the metadata to include country & year for each reference, as well as categorize them by topic. A shared Google spreadsheet was an essential tool that allowed us to collect the data in a standardized format. To ensure accuracy, we sourced the actual dialog from an online transcript website. Wikipedia was our go-to resource for researching the significance of each reference, thereby uncovering the witty & cleverness of the show’s writing staff, plus a few were a tad bit obscure! As you can imagine, this metadata collection process took a great deal of time, and we were relieved when Season 3’s release date was postponed.
As work progressed, we explored some possible chart types in Tableau Desktop, and shared those using Tableau Public’s Hidden Viz feature.
To guide our design & colour choices, we decided to tap into the Ted Lasso brand by incorporating key visual elements from the show. For example, the opening sequence with the blue & red stadium seats gave us the idea to visualize each reference as one stadium seat, with the interactivity of the viz changing the seat colour.
We also played around with the concept of Ted Lasso’s yellow “Believe” poster and committed to that design element when a teaser for Season 3 featuring the poster was released.
The blue, red, & yellow colour choice was a no-brainer (on brand) and yet challenging at the same time (balancing three strong colors). As such, we toned down the red, and used the yellow background only on the intro & outro sections.
With our data set complete & ready, now came the question: what to do with 200 stadium seats?
Inspiration & Feedback from the #datafam
Inspiration struck when Anne-Sophie shared Simon Rowe’s Titanic Viz. Brilliant! We would recreate the opening sequence, hence the animation in both the placement of the seats and the colours. We also gleaned inspiration for changing background images from this same viz, and the technique to do so from Will Sutton’s tutorial. Additional techniques learned from WorkoutWednesday were utilized (hello, dynamic zone visibility and parameter actions). Together these components satisfied one of our main goals: a fun, story-telling exploration of the topic.
But wait, there’s more! Great vizzes incorporate feedback from Tableau Ambassadors and seasoned developers alike, so we tapped into the #datafam resources such as #VizOfficeHours with Michelle Frayman and Nicole Klassen, and reached out to individuals we admire & respect (looking at you, Bridget Cogley and Kim Unger). This feedback took our viz from good to great, and we appreciate their time immensely.
A mutual desire to do great work
For both of us, taking time to add the finishing touches was an important step in the process. This involved incorporating various techniques including: hiding Tableau’s “blue highlighting” when you cannot float a blank on top, using a highlight action to make a chart “unclickable”, and creating a parameter with a hierarchy, all tips & tricks we’ve learned from the #datafam.
Essential to this workflow process was our “to do list”. As you can imagine, a viz of this scope encompasses a million little details, so this tab in our shared Google spreadsheet became our place to capture notes, link online resources, and assign tasks….right down to the smallest of details such as fixing typos.
Final notes & lessons
You may have heard that collective sigh of relief on March 6th when we both pressed “publish workbook” and officially shared our viz on Tableau Public. But our collaboration did not end there! We coordinated the timing & content of our social media posts and discovered a delightful bonus – our collaboration extended our reach to a wider audience. Self promoting your work can seem cringe worthy, so collaborate: you will be cheering for somebody else and with somebody else! It truly doubled the joy & satisfaction.
Our Ted Lasso Viz is a testament to the fact that success comes from hard work and a lot of luck. We had the same level of expectations & willingness to do the work to craft a viz we would be proud of. And our skill sets were complimentary in such a way that it enhanced the viz immensely, making the process a true collaboration. As far as luck goes, our pairing through the #VizCollab program was indeed lucky, or as Ted Lasso said himself,
“I feel like we fell out of a lucky tree, hit every branch on the way down, ended up in a pool full of cash and Sour Patch Kids.”(Ted Lasso S1 E6)