Three episodes into its third — and possibly final — season, the sports comedy TV series Ted Lasso just revealed that one of its regular characters is gay and closeted. Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of Season 3, entitled “4-5-1.”
The AppleTV+ comedy follows the foibles of Jason Sudeikis’s titular character, an American football coach hired to lead the English Premier League soccer team AFC Richmond, despite knowing nothing about the sport. Up until now, the hit series hasn’t introduced any LGBTQ+ characters. But that all changed in the latest episode, which premiered on Wednesday.
The episode’s cold open finds the team’s left-back Colin (Billy Harris) waking up alone in bed. He then heads downstairs where he shares a kiss with a new character, Michael, played by Sam Liu.
Later in the episode, Colin brings Michael to a dinner with the rest of the team and introduces him as “my pal Michael – world’s greatest wingman.” Michael plays along, joking about what a drag it is to run interference while Colin chats up women.
In the episode’s final moments, journalist Trent Crimm (James Lance) spots the couple making out in a nearby alley, setting up what Ted Lasso showrunner Brendan Hunt has implied will be a coming-out arc for the character.
“We’ve known for a while that Colin was gay,” Hunt told the U.K.’s RadioTimes. “It was just a matter of when we were going to finally get to that.”
Hunt said that he and the show’s writers always intended to introduce a gay character on the show’s fictional team, but opted to have an existing character come out rather than casting someone new.
“We thought, ‘Oh no, actually, it’ll be better if that person’s already on the team and we’re not acknowledging it and they’re hiding it so well, but there’s been no hint of it so far.’ That helps demonstrate what this person is going through,” Hunt said.
They even toyed with the idea of revealing that Colin was gay and closeted in Season 2, but instead merely seeded the idea with a line in which the character mentions Grindr.
“When people go back and watch the show now after this revelation, they’ll be like, ‘Wow, he was hiding that for so long,” Hunt said. “Colin has to go that long not being who he is.’ I think that helps tell the story better.”
Hunt said that the slow reveal is meant to reflect the persistent “taboo” against real athletes coming out.
“There was Josh Cavallo in Australia last year, Jakub Jankto in Czech Republic this year, and Jake Daniels at Blackpool,” he said. “It’s just part of what’s happening in football. We may be a fake football club, but we’re trying to show a little bit of football reality here.”