‘Ted Lasso’ Dedicated an Episode to a Journalist Who Helped the Show Solve Trent Crimm

The late Grant Wahl gave the show some tips on what it's like for a sportswriter to spend a season with a team.
Ted Lasso Trent Crimm
James Lance in "Ted Lasso"
Colin Hutton

This week’s “Ted Lasso” ends with a tribute. As the credits roll, the first words that appear are “In memory of Grant Wahl.”

Wahl, the beloved soccer writer who passed away suddenly last December at the age of 49 while covering the 2022 World Cup, was a presence in this season’s opening chapters. In “Big Week,” Season 3’s fourth episode, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) carries Wahl’s 2009 book “The Beckham Experiment.” Aside from the book being a sensible fit for a show about soccer, the story behind Wahl’s profile of a team helped “Ted Lasso” sort through some of its own questions about their own press-conference-star-turned-book-writing-reporter Trent Crimm (James Lance).

“As we were putting together the storyline of Trent embedding himself with the team, that’s exactly what Grant did with LA Galaxy. So we reached out to him with a few questions, hoping he might have some time to give us some quick answers. He gave us voluminous responses to every single question that were so helpful. Putting the Trent story together, he was just so generous with his time. It’s a really, really terrible loss,” Hunt told IndieWire.

Wahl’s help was part of the writing staff’s larger search for how to integrate Trent into the volatile atmosphere of a team dealing with its own ups and downs, including the arrival of a new enigmatic star.

“It wasn’t just sport. We used the David Simon book ‘Homicide’ and any of these stories where it’s a reporter embedded in a world trying to understand it,” series writer and co-star Brett Goldstein said. “At what point do they start trusting you or letting down their guard? What’s interesting with Trent is that Roy and most of the team don’t like this guy to start with. So he’s coming in at a negative. That’s kind of an interesting place for a character to be. It’s quantum physics. As soon as you observe the thing, that thing changes.”

The origins of Roy’s animus toward Trent ultimately stems from some negative words in a Crimm column from when the two were both much younger. From a certain viewpoint, it’s not hard to imagine the conversation as a kind of proxy for some of the criticism “Ted Lasso” itself faced during a tumultuous Season 2. According to Hunt, that Roy-Trent confrontation that smooths things over in Season 3 was something that had an inspiration in some of the first scripts and wasn’t a stand-in for response to the show.

“The thought never crossed our minds, really. It’s just organic from what we know,” Hunt said. “The breadcrumbs, we accidentally planted in Season 1. The first time Roy sees Trent, he says, ‘Trent, you’re a prick. You always have been.’ And then later on, we went, ‘OK, well why does he think that?’ He should probably still think that and it should be a problem. But let’s figure out the why and just go from there.”

“Ted Lasso” Season 3 continues with new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+.

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