Ted Lasso's Brendan Hunt explains power of gay footballer storyline
The show's co-creator and Coach Beard actor on why this reveal reflects the reality of what’s happening in football.
**Warning – contains spoilers for Ted Lasso season 3 episode 3**
Ted Lasso's third episode begins with Welsh AFC Richmond player Colin Hughes (Billy Harris) waking up and getting ready for the day. As he goes downstairs to the kitchen, we learn that’s he not alone.
A man (played by newcomer Sam Liu) offers him coffee and as Colin leaves, he asks, "Text me when you get back from Dubai?" and the pair kiss. As Colin drives away, he reassures himself in the car: "I am a strong and capable man."
Later in the episode, Colin introduces his love interest as a friend to the rest of the AFC Richmond team at Sam Obisanya's (Toheeb Jimoh) restaurant by saying, "This is my pal Michael – world's greatest wingman."
At the end of the episode, journalist Trent Crimm (James Lance), who's writing a book about the team's journey, sees Colin and Michael kissing in an alley, leaving us wondering what he'll do with this information, as Colin isn't openly out.
Brendan Hunt, who co-created Ted Lasso and plays Coach Beard, spoke to RadioTimes.com exclusively about the storyline. "We've known for a while that Colin was gay," he said. "It was just a matter of when we were going to finally get to that. It's still a taboo in football, but there are more active players who are coming out.
"There was Josh Cavallo in Australia last year, Jakub Jankto in Czech Republic this year, and Jake Daniels at Blackpool. 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."
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Was that something that was always on the cards for the series? "We knew we would have a gay player on the team," Hunt said. “Before season 2, it was like, 'OK, well, should we cast that someone?'
"And then 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."
He added: "When people go back and watch the show now after this revelation, they'll be like, 'Wow, he was hiding that for so long. Colin has to go that long not being who he is.' I think that helps tell the story better."
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The fan theory that Colin might be gay or bisexual has been circulating since season 2, episode 3, where Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) spells out Bantr, the fictional dating app featured in Ted Lasso, which eventually becomes Richmond's sponsor.
Colin chips in that the spelling is similar to Grindr, a dating app serving the LGBTQ+ community. Co-creator Bill Lawrence never confirmed the theory, but liked various fan tweets speculating about Colin's rumoured sexuality.
Billy Harris, who plays Colin, was one of the last people to know – the fact that Colin is gay was only hinted to Harris at the end of season 2, Hunt said.
"We didn't want him to know too much too soon, because then he might be playing that and the whole idea is that Colin isn't playing that. Colin is a chameleon and he's very, very good at hiding this. Billy's been really amazing in this part."
Ted Lasso has been praised for depicting the opposite of toxic masculinity – for normalising therapy, talking about your feelings, having a good cry and dealing with emotions in a healthy way.
"To some degree, male vulnerability is still a bit of a taboo, especially in sports," Hunt added. "If you’re not being vulnerable, if you're not connecting with your emotions, then you're not quite being 100% the person that you can be.
"If you've got stuff happening that's gonna bring you some feelings, don't run away from the feelings, just have them. You can still go to the pub afterwards – but don't go to the pub instead."
As the series continues, we hope Colin feels comfortable enough to reveal his true self to his teammates (perhaps even to the public) and that he’s treated – in true Ted Lasso form – with kindness.
Ted Lasso seasons 1-2 are streaming now on Apple TV+ and season 3, episode 3 arrives today, Wednesday 29th March, with new episodes weekly — you can sign up to Apple TV+ here.