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Classic Television Rundown: Why Everyone Should Watch "Friday Night Lights"


In an effort to do the internet equivalent of covering up my ears and going "LALALALA I'M NOT LISTENING!" to last night's season finale of Mad Men, as Brigitte and I are three episodes behind, I will instead blog about a different season finale.

Namely, the season finale that we watched last night of the superb, superb, SUPERB NBC sports drama, Friday Night Lights. No, I mean, the teen drama, Friday Night Lights. No, wait, the family drama, Friday Night Lights. Wait, no, I mean, all of those things.

So, because I'm guessing you, the reader, do not watch Friday Night Lights, and I judge that based on its historically lousy ratings, which are so low that even ABC Family appeared to have cancelled its rerun airings, here are five great reasons for you to watch.

1. It features a lot of Explosions in the Sky and a lot of beautiful cinematography.
On a purely aesthetic level, there is a lot to love about this show, especially for those of us who love things like films by Terrence Malick and music by Explosions in the Sky. The 2004 movie of the same name featured actual new compositions by Explosions in the Sky, and the television show features a very Explosions-like score by W.G. Snuffy Walden (I love that dude's name!) and, in later episodes of season one, features actual Explosions songs. Meanwhile, most of the establishing shots in the series are handheld cam shots of rural Dillon, TX, set to said ambient instrumental rock. Even if you hate everything else associated with the series, you'll want to watch this show just for the superb score and cinematography.

2. It is full of great sports action.
Then again, a show that features high school football should also show some high school football. And Friday Night Lights delivers in sports action. In fact, it has such good sports action that it got Brigitte interested in sports in real life (sort of.)

3. It is full of hotties, if you're not into sports action. (Or, it's a bonus if you're into both hotties and sports action.)
Even if you don't love sports action (and I know you do love sports action, DoktorPeace, which is who this bullet point is mainly addressed to,) this show is chock full of hotties. Like, Minka Kelly as Lyla Garrity, the more-complicated-than-you-think-at-first head cheerleader of the Dillon Panthers. Or, Adrianne Palicki as Tyra, the more-complicated-than-you-think-at-first town whore (said in the way Ralph Cifaretto says it on The Sopranos..."hooooahh.") And for the ladies, Taylor Kitsch as the more-complicated-than-you-think-at-first tough guy alcoholic fullback Tim Riggins. But especially, the hottest of the hotties has got to be Coach's tough-as-nails but tender-lovin'-hot wife Tami Taylor, played by Connie Britton. Yowwwwwwwza, I'd like to be guidance-counseled by her!

4. It is very well-acted and very well-written.
Seriously, though, while the characters on the show are, like most television shows, more attractive than the average person, said actors are, first and foremost, terrific actors. I've always read about how Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are always snubbed by the Emmys, and prior to watching this show, always thought that was a bunch of hooey. Well, it ain't. Their two performances, and specifically their performances and interactions together, are astoundingly great. Showrunner Jason Katims (he of Parenthood and Roswell) guided a show in its first season to great heights by writing great real characters like the Taylors. And the series is honestly The Wire-like in its breadth and depth of characters. Obviously, the issues dealt with in the first season are not as intense as those in The Wire -- natch, because at its heart this is a family drama -- but the scope of its characters is such that characters like the Taylors, Smash Parker, Jason Street, Tim Riggins, Tyra, Tyra's mom, Buddy Garrity, etc., are as familiar and well-loved to us as Bubbles, Omar, etc.

What's the word snobs use to describe that? Oh yeah, Dickensian. It's truly Dickensian in its scope.

5. It makes you feel.
Friday Night Lights' first season is to emotions what Lost's first season is to emotions (and planes crashing in possibly supernatural airplanes while being chased by monsters made of smoke.) Friday Night Lights makes one feel emotions deeper than one has ever realized. Friday Night Lights has it all -- funny (like smart geek high schooler Landry constantly talking about pheromones, or Riggins trying to make jokes at the annual team roast,) sad (like Jason Street getting injured and people bein' all sad about it, or Matt Saracen's grandma having alzheimers) happy (like the Dillon Panthers winning a big game,) happy and sad (like when Riggins confronts his deadbeat dad,) disappointed (like the Dillon Panthers losing a big game,) sweet (like when Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor start dating adorably,) and full of joy (like when Coach brings his wife Tami and his daughter Julie into a loving embrace and tells them how much he loves them.) As one watches each episode of Friday Night Lights season one, one experiences a full range of emotions. Not unlike the emotional first season of Lost. Except, instead of smoke monsters, it's, y'know, based in reality.

Now stop reading this blog, go to Netflix Instant Streaming, and start season one of Friday Night Lights immediately.
"Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He is going to fight and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is at the midst of that battle he does not lose himself. This game is not over, this battle is not over." -Coach Eric Taylor, or, Coach Taylor, or, just, Coach.

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 12:55 PM |  

    Already started last week. I almost cried during the pilot, even though I knew the tragic twist - Minka is going to marry Derek Jeter wahhhhhhhhhh.

  2. Blogger qualler | 1:17 PM |  

    Yeah srrsly, what a horrible twist.

  3. Blogger Old Man Duggan | 2:30 AM |  

    As I'm sure you already know, I watch the shit out of FNL and have DirecTV in part because of 101's production of the show.

  4. Blogger elahmo | 9:24 AM |  

    You aren't kidding about how the show makes one feel. This damn show has me in tears every other episode (by the end of the pilot I was a blubbering mess, then continued to cry uncontrollably through the next episode), jumping up and down in my lounge room cheering the team, heart swelling with pride or melting at the general adorableness and awesomeness of the Taylors... and I love this show almost as much as I love my family. Im not even kidding.

    I've been trying to convert people for the last three years, and noticed more and more people are coming to this series late. I have a feeling it'll go the way of Arrested Development, and gain reverence and re-newed life on DVD. I can't complain; the fact it would have had five, wonderful, amazing seasons is an achievement in and of itself.

    Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

  5. Blogger qualler | 11:40 AM |  

    OMD, I'm frantically attempting to catch up to Season 5 before it begins, but I don't have DirecTV so I will have to either wait for it to air on NBC next summer or find other means to watch it.

    Elahmo, I totally echo your sentiments about the experience of watching it. Brigitte and I were hugging and high-fiving when the Dillon Panthers *SPOILER* won the state championship in season one and tearing up at Coach Taylor's amazing halftime speech that was edited to show the faces of those who supported the team in the crowd.*END SPOILER* I really do hope it gets that Arrested Development / Wire-like DVD following.

  6. Blogger Old Man Duggan | 2:20 PM |  

    Qualler,

    Everyone I know without DirecTV still finds a way to watch it. You will too. I've written about this before, but living in Austin, it's weird watching the show because it feels like its about your hometown. I would see cast members so frequently that it felt like they were my neighbors when I'd watch the show.

  7. Blogger qualler | 8:55 AM |  

    Cool. I'm excited to keep going through it. I just watched the S2 premiere last night, and aside from the huge plot twist that does not fit on the show whatsoever, liked it quite a bit.

  8. Blogger Old Man Duggan | 4:38 AM |  

    Don't let that plot line deter you. Stay on the righteous path and you will be rewarded.

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