Ted Lasso S3E9: La Locker Room Aux Folles

“Roy Kent is the voice of reason. What a world!”

It’s another very special Ted Lasso™ and I’m here for it. First off, as unique as this show’s format is, the show is a student of the history of television. Ted Lasso loves to pay hommage to the vast past of the small screen. And we’ll keep the French spelling of hommage since midfielder Richard Montlaur has been the butt of half the jokes of the last two episodes.

More importantly, senitmentality done right isTed Lasso‘s calling card. The show is unabashedly corny. If you’re not down with that, well, you probably are not still watching as we hit the stretch run of season three. This particular episode centers around Hughes’ struggle with whether he’s ready to come out to his teammates. However, his timeline is a bit more rushed after Isaac McAdoo inadvertantly saw pictures after grabbing his phone to delete nudes he thought would be women.

It was a bit disheartening at the beginning of the episode to see McAdoo’s attitude towards Hughes after his discovery. It was even more baffling given it happened smack dab in the middle of his well-meaning, if overly violent, progressive stance about treating women with respect after Keeley Jones was the target of revenge porn. For all his gruff exterior, Richmond’s captain seems to have a kind, if zealous soul. Most importantly, he’s shown a respect for other people’s life choices.

However, Isaac refuses to even acknowledge Colin’s attempts at any conversation. When leading the pre-game pep routine, McAdoo even blanches and swiftly repositions himself when their hands touch. Is McAdoo a bad friend and/or a homophobe? It’s not looking good. However, what’s absolutely clear is he’s being an absolute wanker of a captain for AFC Richmond.

And his sloppy rage (and Hughes’ confusion) spill onto the field for their match against Brighton & Hove Albion. Or as Coach Ted rightfully calls them “the law firm of football teams.” Richmond are now on a roll and highly favored. However, they are off in the first half. And when Hughes’ misfire leads to a Brighton goal, McAdoo goes ham on his friend.

It all comes to a head as the team walks off the field, down 1-nil. An obnoxious chav of a fan is hurling stock insults at his favorite team for the absolute crime of… underperforming? I’m a huge sports fan, but I’ll never get some of the white hot anger fans direct at their beloved teams and players. Sorry, Chris Powell, I meant “yellow hot.” The toxic fan cycles through his rolodex of shoutable insults until he gets to that one. The “F” word. And, no, Jamie, the other “F” word. The one that would be the spark to set off the dynamite that was Isaac’s knowledge of Colin’s secret.

And in a flash of fisticuffs, McAdoo hops into the stands and we begin to see that Isaac’s reticence was not what it might have seemed to be. His apparent rejection of Hughes was not because of any homophobia. We’ll find out later that it was Isaac who was feeling a bit rejected. However, after Isaac is red carded and ejected from the game, the coaches and his teammates are lost as to why and question their purported captain. McAdoo launches into a righteous rage, essentially saying that footballers, especially gay ones, are going through enough and should not have to deal with slurs from supposed supporters.

Of course, as enlightened as the Richmond locker room can be at times, it’s not enlightened enough to not jump to the easiest of conclusions. Isaac McAdoo is furious because he himself is gay, they presume. While no one seems remotely put out, it’s still a lazy assumption. Colin, realizing his friend had stood up for him on the pitch, knows what he must do. We don’t see Colin coming out, as after he stands up and says “Isaac’s not gay,” we cut to Roy Kent comforting McAdoo, then back to post-speech Colin as his players accept him, saying he doesn’t care.

That leads Coach Ted to do what he do and launch into a speech about why they should actually care. It’s a sweet and valid point. Unfortunately, his clumsy comparison of Denver Broncos fandom to living as a gay man in a still intolerant world slightly undercuts it. Whatever the case, it’s the second funniest use of that American football team in TV comedy.

That said, I don’t want to gloss over Roy Kent’s growth in this episode. It’s subtle but immense. One could say Roy Kent’s heart grew two and a half sizes this day. But I won’t. Roy Kent is called out by Rebecca for blowing off her request to sub in for Ted in a presser. It’s probably partially a matchmaking move by the Richmond owner in lieu of Keeley’s being in the dumps post-dumping by Jack. Oh, fuck Jack, btw. I never cared much for Jack, but when she slut shamed Keeley for her private sexual video, she was dead to me. Keelent 4 Life! Or Keelartt maybe. Or she can find a better woman than Jack if that’s her choice. But fuck Jack.

Where were we? Oh right, Roy Kent. He earns a gold badge for empathy as he gently comforts Isaac, then kills it at the press conference. In between coming up with fitting, if often cutting names for the press pool, he tells a story from his past about his dealings with anger and about how we never truly know what is driving a person. Roy Kent comes off terrible for his actions in his tale, but it has the effect of pulling Isaac straight out from his position under the bus. It’s truly sweet and sets up the saccharine, but honestly heartfelt and effective make-up between Isaac and Colin.

As this is all going on, Nate Shelley is continuing to crush his redemption arc. Rupert catches Jade delivering food and kisses to his Wonder Kid’s office. It’s always impossible to tell what the slithery Rebecca ex, West Ham owner, and worst father figure is up to. Having said that, it’s safe to say his motives are rarely benevolent. He focuses his smarmy charm on Jade who is polite, but clearly unamused. In fairness, though, Jade’s default is resting quiet disdain face.

Rupert’s machinations vex Nate more when Snidely Bitchlash invites him to a “boys’ night out.” He’s honored to be invited at first, and is cool enough to be open with Jade, and she supportive of him. They truly are a lovely couple. Who would have guessed?! (I did, me… I did). Nate is stunned, however, when Rupert is chatting up two leggy women and asks the barkeep for his private room. If it’s a weird, creepy trap set by Rupert, Nate comes supercorrect. It’s hardly a tiny move of courage for Nate to muster up the strength to stand up to his controlling boss. Nate makes the right choice, bows out, and chooses Jade over random sex with models, as well as the plans of his mercurial boss.

Between revelations, powerful speeches, massive character growth, and so many lessons learned about how to be a good person on 2023 Earth, we have it. It’s Ted Lasso‘s latest very special episode. It’s also one of the good-natured, yet often dark program’s most satisfying to date.

Stray Goals:

  • Sam Obinsaya is clearly the right choice for interim captain. Jamie Tartt has made strides over the course of three season. But when McAdoo loses his cool after Hughes’ error, Jamie Tartt looks befuddled and lost while Sam ably and swiftly calms McAdoo. On that note, McAdoo, while proving to be ultimately an upstanding and progressive bloke, might be a bit too mercurial for the role going forward. Ideally, next week, McAdoo lets the weight off his shoulders and lets Sam keep the sash.
  • Sam’s forgetting he is now captain is another reason he should be captain. While Tartt’s sweetly stealing the count off while Sam’s mind wanders is a sign he’s growing into a great teammate. But he’s also not ready to be captain.
  • Trent Crimm’s smile as he puts the coda on Colin’s coming out is telling. It’s both one of a friendly soul comisserating with a like mind and the look of a writer who realizes his hunch that AFC Richmond’s season would be an interesting subject is paying off beyond his wildest dreams. Everything’s coming up Trent Crimm!
  • However, like anyone in the NFL not named Damar Hamlin returning to form post-injury or falloff, Crimm’s a long shot to win Comeback Character of the Season. Barring a massive moral breakdown, Wonder Boy Nate will win that. While he atones for all the PoS actions of season two and early season three by being simply a good person off the field, he’s clearly not in over his head coaching West Ham. All they seem to do is win.
  • Speaking of West Ham, I have no idea what to make of Rupert. For all his control freak, I’m-your-daddy personality, he seems surprised but not angry when Nate defies his prostitution plan. He genuinely seems a bit proud of the Boy Wonder for standing up to him.
  • The Office [US] gets its second call out of the season. Coach Lasso delivers Michael Scott’s catchphrase from Zava’s spirit guide half-hour comedy. It’s both the most awkward and most endearing utterance of “that’s what she said” in history. It’s even more fitting given both Scott and Lasso are both people who are ill-suited for their managerial positions yet survive. Or, well, at least Lasso came in as a square peg for a UK position. They are both well-intentioned at heart, in any case.
  • Chris Powell is the secret all-star of the seres. The former player Tottenham executive, and real life announcer has spiced up the action scenes. Powell’s a great sport, as he offers oblivious but brilliant interplay with fellow real life UK football announcer Arlo White. Powell reminds us that seagulls are sneaky and that red-hot is actually not as hot as yellow-hot.
  • Coach Beard’s strongly held musical opinions rear their perfectly legit head. First he compares the 22 men having fun together on grass to a jam band jam. He name checks Grateful Dead, Black Crowes and Phish in the joke. We’re not sure of the math, but… why not? But Beard loses it in his impromptu press conferences, getting into a knock-down, drag-out fight with the press pool over Jimmy Page vs. Joe Walsh.
  • On that note, it’s another spectacular week for the team that assembles the soundtrack. I’d never heard of the British indie folk troupe Bear’s Den. Their 2021 single “All That You Are” serves as theme for both Nate’s rom-com-esque run to Jade and Hughes and McAdoo’s embrace as friends again. It works flawlessly; I’ll have to check them out.
  • The 1983 Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles — made into the hit movie The Birdcage by Mike Nichols 13 years later — told the story of a middle aged gay drag queen (not redundant, h/t Maddie Morphosis) who is compelled to hide his true sexuality when his son comes to town with his right-wing fiancee in tow. At the end of Act I, the hero hits his breaking point and comes out singing “I Am What I Am.” While not a chart hit, the song would become a popular anthem for declaring self-identity in the 1980s. Is there a more perfect score for Colin’s coming out episode? It’s tender, rousing, and says, well, what it says, with zero apologies. So let’s end this with that most famous musical survivor and her popular cover of the song. Oh, and can I just say the lyric “I deal my own deck, sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces,” is one of the greatest in music history.