I don’t like sports. I especially don’t like football. It is the most boring of sports. And I don’t particularly like rednecks. And I really don’t like redneck football culture. So, a television show about football players at a Texas high school, on the surface, as appealing to me as oral surgery.
Well bring on the Novocain because Friday Night Lights, the wonderful, incredible, moving, fascinating television show that is ostensibly about a high school football team in a fictional West Texas town, is one of my favorite shows.
Of course, FNL, is about football like America’s Next Top Model is about actual modeling, which is to say, not a lot. In FNL, the football is a backdrop for small-town American life, but not the clichéd version we see play out every time there’s a presidential election. (Also, the show has the best representation of how religion plays out in American life.) It’s also about family. Coach and Tami and Julie are at the center of it, but, at least as of last season, there was the crazy messed up Riggins brothers and Matty Saracen and his loopy grandmother and the Garritys! And Tyra and her messed up mom and stripper sister. And Smash and his mama. None of them caricatures. All of them real. I love them all. Even Tyra who I used to hate.
When I watched the pilot episode of this show, I don’t know what I was thinking or expecting or even why I tuned in, other than I heard enough smart people tell me that this show was amazing and it was free and on the Interwebs. But I’m not sure I breathed that entire hour. It was that good. It has stayed that good, for the most part, for three seasons. There have been missteps, for sure, a couple of lame soap operatic turns in Season 2 that we’re all better off forgetting. And now, the show is doing something truly remarkable: graduating all its seniors and booting them off the show.
We’re heading into Season 4, uncharted waters with Coach Eric at a new school and presumably a whole new batch of rabble rousing kids to kick into shape. I can’t wait to meet them, to see where the show goes next, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. It’s a bit of a Hail Mary Pass (look at me using football terms, wrongly) that the show is even back; it looked like it was headed for the trash heap of good shows that die (See: Freaks and Geeks). But it was saved through some sort of cost-sharing deal between NBC and DirecTV. But this season, apparently Friday Night Lights is only airing on DirecTV, which I don’t have. I don’t even have cable. I’m hoping I’ll still be able to watch it online because otherwise, this amazing show, which too few people watched because they, like me, probably thought it was a football show and therefore of no interest to them, will be denied of one of the best shows on television. Meanwhile, America’s Next Top Model marches on.
A big thanks to Gayle Forman for taking the time to write about her celluloid love. Hopefully many of you are inspired to track down season one and start watching this weekend. If you are someone who's fallen in love with it, I encourage you to post about it on your own blog and spread the word. Everyone needs FNL in their life.