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A Masterclass In Secondary Characters (Or Why Trent Crimm Matters In TED LASSO)

Trent Crimm in Ted Lasso

Trent Crimm is one of my favourite queer characters of the last five years or so. He has an incredible arc for a secondary character!

So imagine my surprise – and indignation – when I saw Twitter pontificating Trent ‘serves no real purpose’ in Ted Lasso! (Yes, yes the finale was superb … we all know this, everybody loved it, now: RANT INCOMING!).

The fact that anyone – least of all wannabe screenwriters! LE GASP – think Trent is ‘pointless’ shows how little people understand the purpose of secondary characters in screenwriting.

Sure, they *think* they know the purpose of secondary characters … but 9/10 in their own spec screenplays, they just have a colourful cast of random characters orbiting the protagonist or antagonist randomly.

Hell, some of those random characters may even be interesting, fun, or whatever. But they really do serve no purpose in pushing the story forward.

This is NOT the case with Trent Crimm in Ted Lasso.

This is what Secondary Characters DO

The short version: a secondary character’s job is to HELP or HINDER the main character. Sometimes people call secondary characters ‘supporting characters’. I like this, because it reminds us that secondaries should never, ever, take over.

I also like to think of secondary characters as being ‘Team Protag’ or ‘Team Antag’ because it helps writers pinpoint the main point of their secondary character.

Trent Crimm in Ted Lasso is very unusual because he does both!

He starts off as ‘Team Antag’, representing the toxic side of the gutter press. He is clearly an educated man but he’s superior, a little up his own arse. Most importantly, he is itching for Ted to screw up.

We know he has been like this for a good while, maybe even decades. Even though Ted is willing to live and let live with Trent, we discover Roy absolutely loathes him. We don’t know why, but can guess Trent has written lots of shitty things about the team and its players.

This is finally brought home to us during s3. Ted allows Trent access to the team to write his book. Roy then grabs Trent and pulls him into the showers with him, showing a newspaper cut-out of an article Trent wrote about Roy as a very young player.

As many of us may have guessed, it is a real slam-piece: Trent basically says Roy might be a wild card, but he is talentless.

We expect Trent to plead with Roy and ask for bygones to bygones. He does not.

Instead, Trent shows his growth as a person when he apologises to Roy and takes responsibility for his previous toxicity … showing he is now TEAM PROTAG!

Trent has an incredible arc for a secondary character

Trent not only learns from Ted, he ENACTS it, changing his entire life.

Over the course of the seasons, he goes from rooting for Ted to fail to literally coming over to his side. He leaves his job at the press. He’s no longer ‘Trent Crimm, Independent’.

Trent makes up for his previous toxicity by writing a book about Ted and ‘The Lasso Way’ (even re-titling it at Ted’s request).

He hangs out with them physically, but also spiritually as well.

We also see him enacting ‘The Lasso Way’ with Colin.

We worry at first when we see him start following him … will Trent revert to his previous toxic self and publish a sensationalist piece about Richmond’s first gay player???

But of course he doesn’t. Ted has made Trent get back in touch with himself and practice compassion and understanding. He would not revert to type and go against everything he’s learned.

We also discover that Trent is gay. There were little hints before s3 – not least that Dolly Parton tee shirt – but it’s finally confirmed here.

We also hear how he came out late in life, as he had both a wife and children but he had to be true to himself.

It was wonderful how little fanfare this was given, too: he was Trent before we knew he was gay, after all. It was incredibly meaningful he remained himself AFTER we knew, as well.

He counsels Colin on how he needs to accept his own homosexuality and to hell with the macho world of football. This is why we see Colin kissing his boyfriend on the pitch in the finale – it’s directly because of Trent.

“Trent Crimm, Independent”

Of all the newspapers they could have chosen, The Independent was perfect in terms of name. At the beginning of his arc, Trent IS ‘independent’ – he is a lone wolf, yet also a man’s man … The way he ‘ought’ to be.

As the seasons continue, we see Ted chip away at Trent’s armour. He responds and eventually, Ted breaks through and Trent is Team Ted all the way.

We can see this journey reflected in the fact there is a NEW Trent at The Independent to replace the old Trent. They literally thought of everything!

So YES, Trent had fabulous hair but he was not ONLY that. He very much served a purpose in Ted Lasso.

If you’re a wannabe screenwriter, that show is a masterclass in character arc and set up/pay off.

As Roy Kent would say: study the fuck out of Ted Lasso or GET FUCKED.

Good Luck!


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