'90210' Exclusive: The REAL story behind Teddy's big gay awakening

kyle-riabkoImage Credit: Michael Desmond/The CW; Steve Granitz/WireImage.comIt went from being the best kept to the worst kept secret in less than a month: 90210‘s Teddy—the moneyed tennis pro played by Trevor Donovan—will tiptoe out of the closet this fall. In the following exclusive interview, exec producer Rebecca Sinclair reveals when she realized Teddy preferred guys over gals, previews his first same-sex romance, and recalls Donovan’s initial reaction upon learning that he’d be playing gay.

Why did you wait a whole season before starting to unravel the story of Teddy’s sexuality?
[We wanted] to play a coming out story that features a kid we already knew. Instead of his sexuality being the first and defining characteristic, we’ve already gotten a chance to know Teddy before he explores his sexuality. Teddy’s an athlete, he’s a famous guy’s son, he’s blonde and hunky and yes, he also has a sexual orientation and that’s a huge part of his life. In a lot of ways I think that’s more interesting than Teddy is a gay athlete, a gay famous guy’s son and a blonde and hunky gay gentleman.

Did you know Teddy would be gay when he was first introduced?
SINCLAIR: No. We thought he was just a womanizer. But then—and this often happens with characters—we started to wonder about the deeper life of the character. Was he a womanizer, or was he really covering for something?

How will Teddy’s coming out story be different from Adrianna’s?
SINCLAIR: There are obviously an infinite number of ways that teenagers can experience the realization that they are attracted to members of the same sex. And I guess our ultimate goal would be to tell a whole range of stories that depict different facets of the issue of gayness—or non-straightness, you might say. Adrianna’s was a much lighter story. For Adrianna, having bisexual feelings was confusing but it didn’t rattle her too deeply. She realized that for her, gender was less important than the individual in terms of finding someone she wanted to date. Frankly, for Adrianna as long as her significant other dotes on her, tells her she’s amazing, and that her hair looks pretty, she doesn’t care what gender they are. With Teddy, we’re attempting to tell a much more dramatic story about a something that rattles him to his core. Though, thankfully, we live in an age where lots of teens are comfortable with their sexual orientation and are able to come out when they’re in high school or even before, we didn’t want to ignore the reality that for lots of kids the road to self-acceptance for a gay teenager isn’t easy. This is going to be a dramatic, at times painful, but hopefully ultimately cathartic journey for him.

How will the story unfold? Does Teddy have an epiphany?
SINCLAIR: As a top-tier athlete and the son of a famous—and famously womanizing—actor, Teddy has always felt the need to keep up appearances. He’s had trouble reconciling the image that the world has of him with his own true sense of self. And he’s worked hard to repress whatever homosexual feelings he’s had. But early on in this season, something shakes up the structure of his life. With stability and routine out the window, he has trouble repressing who he really is. He acts impulsively and ends up hooking up with a guy. So it’s less of an epiphany than an impulsive act that sets things in motion.

Let’s talk about that guy (played by Kyle Riabko, inset above).
SINCLAIR: Kyle is absolutely terrific, charming and talented. He plays Ian, a self-confident, funny guy who is very much out and comfortable with his gayness.

Is there an immediate attraction?
SINCLAIR: I think there is an immediate attraction. But Teddy is very uncomfortable with the feelings he has and is certainly not up for the kind of mature normal relationship that Ian has had in the past and would expect from a boyfriend.

How long will Kyle be around for?
SINCLAIR: Hopefully he will be around for a long time. Certainly for season 3.

90210 doesn’t shy away from allowing its straight characters to express their sexuality. Will the show be as frank in its depiction of Teddy’s romantic relationships?
SINCLAIR: I hope so.

When did you inform Trevor that his character was going to be gay? How did that conversation go?
SINCLAIR: [Fellow EP] Jennie Urman and I called Trevor and told him the story we wanted to tell. I think he was surprised and maybe a bit taken aback initially. But as we discussed it with him and told him the kind of stories we wanted to tell, he got excited. I think he recognized that it was a good opportunity as an actor and he was excited by the idea of telling the story of a character’s journey that would mean a lot to gay teenagers and other teenagers who are learning to be honest about who they are and what they feel.


Comments (113 total) Add your comment
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  • Patrick

    This being a good distraction from the fact Teddy is like the Andrea Zuckerman of 30-year-old high school students.

    • Jersey Jeff

      I never watch this show, so I don’t care. But he is cute!

      • Erin

        Cute in the most boring, generic way

      • South Jersey

        He’s freaking hot and his body makes me quiver.

      • East Coast

        I like Trevor, too bad this show’s lame. Interested in seeing this though

    • Regan

      Ha ha, nice one.

      • SinCity Club

        I watch with my girlfriends and gay or str8 Teddy is our fave! As long as we get to see that body we’ll let it slide LOL

    • EWsMom

      LOL! Excellent point!

    • Zach

      Yes, the irony is not lost on me that this Teddy character is played by a 30-year-old and his comfortably out new boyfriend is really 23.

    • Ian’s rage

      I already thought Liam was gay and Navid “yawn” I’ll give this a shot.

    • lorna

      i dont watch the show and no problem with gays, but he’s too hot to be gay on a tv show. i would be mad if i watched,

      • daflux

        You can’t be serious, do you know how ridiculous you sound? Since when is someone too hot to be gay? and what gives you the right to be mad because someone is portrayed as gay. Thank god commercial tv is finally adding gay male story lines, finally theres a bit of variety.

      • singer

        Blaine on glee? what about Erik on gossip girl? both very good looking and both gay. the hottest guy i have ever met in my life was gay.
        so there.

    • Lia

      If I ignore that Teddy looks SO OLD compared to the other kids on the show, I’m not loving that they cast a guy who is a dead ringer for Annie’s creepy recent ex Jasper to be his new love interest. It’ll be interesting to see how Silver reacts to it (they better not kill her or do something equally stupid with her. She was my fave before she became all pathetic- FIX HER ALREADY)

    • john smith

      Am I the only person that thinks Teddy looks like everyone’s grandfather?!! It doesn’t make sense! He’s like 40!!!

  • sol

    horrible plot

    • Miss Talk

      Church. I’m yawning already. Cancellation in sight!

    • sandy

      do we have to watch this for a whole season???? booooooohhhhh….. very imaginative writers…

  • lost4life

    sounds like they are handing it in a mature non CW way

    • Regan

      Yup, I’m yawning already. By the end of the season he’s probably gonna fall into Silver’s arms all over again and realize he’s conveniently bi, cause that’s just how easily explained sexuality is on the CW.

      • ML

        way to jump to conclusions! you have no idea how this wll develop. have a little faith…

  • Zoe

    Reminds me of the current Riley/Zane subplot on Degrassi: TNG. Both good-looking athletes that share an attraction, except one has been consciously in the closet for some time and the other is out and proud. (OK, I see that the new guy is not described as an athlete, but Teddy is.) Now all 90210 needs is a transgender character!

    • Erik

      I thought Rumer Willis was a transgendered character.

      • Mike

        That’s not cool. They made Rumor look like an ugly guy in the show. Watch Sorority Row for intstance, shes hot in that.

      • Zach

        it’s Rumer Willis; she’s NEVER hot

      • sandy

        lol :D

      • Brody

        harsh. she’s not a bad-looking girl, people. give her a break.

    • Jan

      He looks like Brad Pitt

    • ani

      1) Rumer Willis is not attractive 2) I would have pegged Navid as the gay one 3) Degrassi does EVERYTHING better than all other teen soaps, especially gay male characters.

      • Allison

        agree on the Degrassi comment..And, Teddy is suddenly gay…really?! That’s so ridiculous because he was totally into women for the first season or so. What a way to include the requisite gay character in the teen drama.

  • teendramawhore

    Had little to no faith in Sinclair to begin with and now it’s even less than non-existent. Her credibility has been shot to hell. Why not an interview with her about all the things that will supposedly happen but then never do? How about challenging questions than just contributing to the hype machine?

    • teendramawhore

      How about I re-read my comments to ensure clarity before pressing post? Ugh. Too enraged. You get my overall point.

    • Kris

      Yeah, given the way they handled Adrianna’s story last year, I have my doubts that this will be as true-to-life and mature as she is making it seem.

      • teendramawhore

        Exactly, Kris. Re-read Ausiello’s interview with Sinclair from before the Ade story started. And then think about how the Ade story turned out. And then shake your head at this new interview in disgust (or at least with a skeptical eye).

    • Shayli

      teendramawhore, instead of constantly complaining in every 90210 related article on any given website, just don’t cover the show.

      • Shayli

        BTW I agree with your opinions most of the time, including this one, but it’s humerous that you can’t stand the show yet force yourself to watch it for a group of readers that I’m sure would understand if you moved on from it

      • teendramawhore

        I’ve guessed you’ve overlooked the fact that I am a Lannie fan. There ARE reasons that I watch. Don’t assume there’s not.

  • Sarah

    I have hope that this story will be both interesting and realistic considering Rebecca Kirshner was a writer on Buffy during the Willow/Tara years. Hopefully, this will be better than the coming out stories on previous CW/WB shows like Dawson’s Creek and Gossip Girl.

    • Liz

      To say the least about how awful the coming out stories on the CW are, I have been a Gossip Girl fan from day 1 and could not for the life of me think who the gay character is.

      • jennrae

        It’s Eric, right?

      • Sarah

        Yeah, Eric. His coming-out story was ok initially, but since the character has been recurring since (which I realize was the actor’s choice) has lessened the impact of the story.
        Apart from Willow and Jack on DC, I can’t think of another major gay character on the WB/CW.

      • Steven

        Eric was always a recurring character. They offered him a regular role for season 3, but the actor said no because he wanted to keep his options open. Eric’s coming out was very moving.

      • jbj

        I had to think about who the gay character was, too. Actually, I think that is more or less a testament to how much of a non-issue Eric’s sexuality is. He’s had a few love interests since coming out, and they’ve been handled fairly realistically…which is more than I can say for the rest of the show’s characters’ love lives.

    • Michael

      You must not watch a lot of TV outside of the CW because there have been some awful coming out stories. The comings out of Jack McFee and Eric Van Der Woodsen weren’t exceptional but they weren’t bad either. Eric is arguably the moral compass of the show. In a throng of skanky whores, I’m glad that he’s the gay one.

      • Brody

        Jack was groundbreaking at the time, IIRC. I remember that being a pretty big deal.

      • Sarah

        I wasn’t talking about coming-out stories on TV in general, but rather on the teen-focused WB/CW. That’s why I think the Teddy story has the potential to be a bit more meaningful.

        Jack was pretty groundbreaking at the time, but it wasn’t handled well thereafter.

  • ggny

    Teddy was a horrible addition to the show last year anyways just get rid of him

    • Tyler

      Agreed. I could have seen this story better portrayed and acted by the guy who played Ethan, who was unnecessarily cut from the show.

      • Renny

        Ethan was an awful bore. Teddy is controversial and interesting. I hated him at first but now can’t get enough.

  • Jessica

    Thanks for the front page spoiler title. I saw yesterday the title “90210 character coming out is….” and had the option not to read if I didn’t want to find out (I didn’t). So much for that today.

    • Till

      Someone had to tell it!
      Thank you so much M.Ausiello for that big spoiler in the title! I didn’t want to know too!

      • ImStillToni

        make it +2
        Geezus EW did you really have a spoiler a plot point with the title so people who have been diligently avoiding spoilers had ZERO chance of missing this one?

      • CSS

        Agreeing as well. I don’t even watch the show – just have had so many *spoiled* by EW wanting to boost clicks by putting Ausiello news on the homepage that I keep moving away from the homepage. At least in the magazine I can avoid his page.

  • jacie

    Great! Another pretty boy to make the plain ones feel like they’re less than sh**.

    • DW

      Perhaps you’ve never flipped to the CW, or any TV network, but “plain” people don’t really exist.

  • Erin

    Rebecca Kirshner is an idiot. The last couple of sentences in her first answer makes no sense.

  • Andy G.

    If they think THIS is going to save the show from cancellation, they are SO wrong…
    Okay seriously? Kyle Riabko? That guy’s SO tinny, he can’t do the dirty with ANY of the guys from 90210, if any of them hugged him, he would be crushed….

    • Till

      Don’t judge a book by its cover…

    • yours

      Well is obvious he is going to play “the woman” of the realationship.

      • Michael

        There isn’t a “woman” in a gay male relationship. Don’t be such a moron.

      • yours

        @Michael.There is a such thing as “the woman”..somebody got to lay down.

      • Isabella

        There is no women in a gay relationship; they’re both men. That doesn’t make any sense.

      • Michael

        @yours…apparently, you only know one or two sexual positions and very little about the sexual dynamics in gay relationships.

      • yours

        @Michael..sex dynamics???yeah I am glad I dont.@Isabella-there is a such thing the more feminine guy is the “the women” the guy that has to submit.

      • JMB in FL

        @yours: The fact that you think someone “submits” during sex says a lot about your view of sexual relationships.

      • Trea

        I AM the woman in a hetero relationship and I don’t SUBMIT to anyone!!! Virgins really shouldn’t talk about sex, their ignorance is too obvious! ;)

    • googliezoo

      He’s awesome. I saw him in Hair on Broadway last Spring. He was fantastic.

  • Jen

    I don’t know why this is such a shock. I thought that guy was gay from day one!

  • secret

    Why Teddy, he’s too hot to be gay, I was hoping it was going to be Navid.

    • NameIt

      MY TEDDY!!!! But he’s going to still be manly right?

      • Michael

        What an idiotic question. You obviously don’t know many gay people outside of Will and Grace.

    • Brody

      Too hot to be gay? Have you MET any gay guys? Because… seriously.

      • Trea

        Rock Hudson…look him up….Manly AND gay. I know there are many others but that was the only one that came to mind at the moment. lol

  • Snarf

    “Hopefully he’ll be around for a long time”.

    Unless ratings suck, in which case he’ll be written out and Teddy will decide he’s suddenly bi.

  • James S.

    Wow. Went to Google and had a hard time finding a pic of this guy with his clothes on. Not that I’m complaining.

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