Saturday, November 12, 2016

Friday Night Lights - Five Year's Later

I'm late to this party. Not the first time I missed a show that was something of a small cultural phenomenon only to jump on board years after the fact. I'll probably give in and at some point do it with Mad Men. We'll see on that one. Anyway, a few months back I started Friday Night Lights. I watched the movie when it came out. I never thought it would translate to a TV show. I don't think I would have understood or enjoyed the show as much years ago either. I'm not binging it the way I did The Wire, or a few other shows I watched this year, but it is the type of show that may be best off in a slow, cool burn. At this point, I'm mid-way through Season 4, the time when the show was given a strange form of life support on DirecTV, and I think I have seen enough to share my thoughts.

The show has been excellent, in a most different way. They did such a great job of writing enough excellent characters that are easy to get behind, care about and be invested in. The opening entry into the show, with star QB Jasoin Street being paralyzed, mirrored the movie, but everything else that has veered away from the movie has been a joy.

The best show that I have ever seen was The Wire, a show that shined a light on a world that their viewers were very largely not a part of or never would want to be caught in. Similarly, Friday Night Lights did the same to rural Texas, to small town America, to all the places we on the Coasts easily forget about. They brilliantly showed this town where everyone knew everyone, where football was the fabric that sowed a community together, that religion and faith played such a large part. Few shows have ever shown so much open faith and religion, including memorable scenes in churches.

The football itself alternates from fabulous realism in the practices, the boosterism, the shady dealings, the life of a locker room, to the insane - most of the on-field football itself is a bit ridiculous. But the show is about so much more than football, even if the best seasons and storylines are very connected. The core of the team in the first season, with Matt Saracen put into a role he never wanted, to Smash Williams who saw the team as just a stepping stone, to Tim Riggins, who could not imagine life away from Dillon, to the Coach who has to control all of these things. Characters make dramas for me, and while there may not be the outward magnetism of a Walter White or a Stringer Bell, the cool, calm, introspection of the key characters were perfect.

There are some criticisms of the show, for sure. The second season was a bit of a mess as it tried to get a little too conventional, with stupid plotlines and way too little football. And the show was way too liberal with key characters' ages in an effort to keep them in high school (there is no way Riggins, Lyla and Tyra were all sophomores in the firs tseason). But all of that can be looked past for the pure moments of brilliance.

The show at its best was a small family drama, and with that the show may have shown the best marriage ever on network TV. For years, people claimed writing a happy marriage was boring. Friday Night Lights changed that. The Taylors were perfect. The fought, but made up. They argued, but consoled. They were a perfect marriage to show on TV. Never wavering, but differing. Friday Night Lights at its best could be multiple things: a sports show, a family drama, a pointed look a blue-collar, middle-America. It could wear all those hots in a way better fashion than I could have ever imagined.

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.