Ted Season 1: Meet the swear bear

By Gen Terblanche13 February 2024

Ted Season 1: Meet the swear bear

In this prequel series to the Ted movie, Ted (voiced by series and movie creator Seth MacFarlane) – a toy bear who was brought to life thanks to a wish that his best friend John (Max Burkholder) made as a child – is headed to school.  

It’s the mid-1990s, John is now 16, and Ted is forced to navigate high school bullies and cliques alongside him. Ted’s main ambition is to try to get expelled so he can stay home and watch TV instead. And the little bear would be the first to admit that he’s a bad influence on John. Along the way their misadventures are summarised by series narrator Sir Ian McKellen. 

Binge Ted Season 1 on Showmax now »

5 things to know before you watch Ted 

1: A bear is for life 

Ted the series is a prequel to the 2012 movie of the same name. The movie follows the adventures of the 35-year-old John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and his foul mouthed, alcoholic, party animal teddy bear, Ted (CGI animated, and voiced by Seth MacFarlane). Determined to marry his long-time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), John tries to get Ted to move out of their shared apartment and become independent. The film reveals that eight-year-old John brought Ted to life in 1985 by wishing on a star (a scene replayed in the series’ opening sequence, with Colton Shires and Bretton Manley playing the young John). We find out that John and Ted were minor celebrities when they were younger and Ted even has a stalker, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi). 

In the sequel, Ted 2 (released in 2015), Ted marries his girlfriend from the first film, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). The bulk of the film revolves around Ted’s fight to be recognised as an autonomous person (and not John’s property), when Ted and Tami-Lynn decide they want to adopt a child together. And Donny returns to kidnap Ted on behalf of a toy company. 

2: Ted is a swear bear 

Ted is on Showmax

Ted gets away with a lot during the series because he’s so unbearably cute and even innocent in a way, but that bear is pushing it! He offers a constant bad example and even worse advice, and most of his best quips are too spicy to repeat in mixed company. He’s not kid friendly, so do not let him loose in the toy aisle! As he admits to John at one point, “I Have Failed In My Role As A Sort Of Jiminy Cricket Figure.”  

3: Ted is an “edgy” comedy 

In terms of Seth MacFarlane’s work as a writer, Ted is in line with his boundary and taboo-trampling animated series like American Dad! and Family Guy, rather than with his critically acclaimed sci-fi comedy series The Orville. While there’s kind of a storyline, Ted is more about setting up funny scenarios and having them play out through a single episode.  

The vibe throughout the show is like a raunchy teenage sex comedy from the early 2000s. John and Ted are obsessed with watching pornography together (as Ted points out, that’s either creepy or tragic) and, in John’s case, losing his virginity. In the spare time they have left from that, they’re trying to get their hands on drugs and fake IDs.  

The show revels in “edgy” punch-down humour since John’s home life revolves around his selfish, insecure, and outspokenly bigoted dad Matty (Scott Grimes). Matty operates as Seth’s “naughty” puppet in that he allows him and his writers to say the worst things they can imagine, and to then turn around and spank the “puppet” for voicing them. The characters doing the “spanking” both verbally and by example on screen include Matty’s wife, John’s mom Susan (Alanna Ubach), who is his opposite – a gentle, soft spoken stay-at-home mom who tries her best to be kind and to pump the brakes on Matty’s behaviour. John’s university-aged cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham), who lives with the family, tries to help and protect John while challenging Matty at every turn through the power of gay feminism. And having a talking bear really pulls the spotlight off dad. Thank goodness for Ted.  

4: Ted is warm and fuzzy 

Ted is brought to life so effectively through CGI that you tend to forget that he was never really physically present with the cast. He feels real, down to his lived-in, textured fur. And because Seth actually recorded his voice performance as Ted live on set during filming, there’s a back-and-forth and liveliness that often isn’t there when actors are just talking to air. 

Aside from this, series co-executive producers and writers Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh worked as executive producers and writers for hit family comedy series Modern Family. So along with Ted being a cute, fuzzy little guy, the series’ rough-edged humour is softened by the warm (but never soppy) and relatable family relationships between John and his family (even Matty) as they navigate a bizarre series of teachable moments that end with a sitcom hug-it-out at the end of each episode. 

5: It was the 90s 

Ted S1 is on Showmax

Ted is set during the early 1990s, starting in 1993. Anyone lived through the era will spot multiple anachronisms – some of which are just there for fun because it’s not that serious. But here are 10 things from 1993 that are a little different: 

  1. Nobody has cellphones, (although the Nokia 2110 will release this year) so families depend on landlines or use public payphones.  
  2. Nobody has laptops and families generally share a bulky personal computer, so kids are handwriting their school homework. 
  3. The internet launches publically for the first time in 1993. There are only 50 servers worldwide, and it’s so new and crazy that you can email the new US President, Bill Clinton, on his personal address at the White House.  
  4. There are no music streaming services. You have to buy physical albums (at this stage, mostly on CD) or record tracks off the radio to make mix tapes. Musically, it’s the grunge and rap era. 2Pac and Biggie are BFFs not beefing, people love Nirvana, Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Salt-N-Pepa, and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. Prince changes his name, and Michael Jackson is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.  
  5. At the movies, audiences see the first-ever Jurassic Park film, Robin Williams kills it as the genie in Aladdin, Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks draws attention to the Aids crisis, and it’s the year that River Phoenix dies.  
  6. There are no streaming services, so people watch the same shows at the same time across the country on TV, or rent videos. Young kids are Power Rangers obsessed while their older siblings are hooked on The Simpsons and Beavis and Butt-Head, sci-fi fans love The X-Files, families are watching The Nanny, Roseanne and Seinfeld, and dads everywhere are obsessing over NYPD Blue.  
  7. Popular new video, computer and console games include Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, Dragon Quest, Dragon Ball Z, Super Mario Kart and Virtua Racing.  
  8. By March everyone is talking about cults thanks to the siege in Waco in Texas, and Rodney King testifies about police brutality. The OJ Simpson murder trials only happens in 1994.  
  9. The Olsen Twins lead kiddy fashion, rappers and grunge musicians set the tone for youth style with overalls, flannel shirts and Docs, and acid-wash mom jeans are having a moment. Catwalks are dominated by the supermodel trinity: Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell. 
  10. Online shopping will only launch as an idea in 1994 so everything you want has to be ordered from physical catalogues that come in the mail, or bought from local shops.  

Welcome to Ted’s world! 

Binge Ted Season 1 on Showmax now »

Also watch 

Looking for crazy animated creatures and their live-action human friends? Try the Peacemaker series, Looney Tunes Back in Action, Hop, Peter Rabbit, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, The Golden Compass, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, all on Showmax. 

And read more about dangerous creature features on Showmax including the crazy Cocaine Bear

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