Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why Friday Night Lights is an incredible TV show.



Often times when I tell people the initial bare-bones premise of this TV show, I feel the need to immediately make excuses as to why they should watch it despite the fact that the setting may not be something of initial interest to them.  The show takes place in Dillon Texas, a small town where most everyone knows the business and gossip of one another because of the cozy size.  The main setting of the show: a football field.  The Dillon Panthers are a high school football team.  And as viewers, we start out with a birds eye view of the games and characters, but we are quickly plunged into the depths of their lives, their triumphs, challenges and their characters.

This show gives one a feeling of nostalgic romance for high school and the carefree feelings of youth.  It conjures images of swirling fall leaves as the first day of school approaches, teenage crushes and romances, fights with one's parents about how late they can stay out with friends, the school bell echoing throughout the hallway, and the feeling of rebellion and excitement that's coupled with that first high school party.



Despite the differences between all of the characters, one thing they all share is heart.  This show is yet another reminder of humanity, and the fact that nothing is black and white.  Human life is filled with challenges, messiness and wonder.  This show reminds us of the beauty that lies in feeling the passion for life.

Yes, the high school cheerleader is privileged, a bit snobby, sometimes too peppy and "has it all."  Yet her fear and loneliness over the significant loss of someone she loves deeply eventually drives her into the arms of a man that causes her tragic judgments and jeers at school.  Yet, we almost cannot blame her as we continue to watch the emotional challenges she faces and the feelings we see she has for these two people to whom she is quite close.  We see it is not quite so simple and that snap judgments are rarely accurate.  This young woman has impressive moments of strength and bravery, as well as emotionally touching moments of vulnerability.

Another character, tragic in nature, struggles with severe alcohol abuse and breaks the heart of his best friend, betraying him in a terrible way.  Yet as the show goes on, we also see moments of breathtaking love and loyalty in this same young man.  We see he is a troubled person who often makes bad choices, but who ultimately has a kind and giving heart.

We see another young man, barely old enough to properly parent someone himself, struggling to be a guardian and caretaker to his younger brother.  Both of these men having been left by their parents long ago.  Yet, he can never seem to get the hang of it in doing right by his brother.  It's clear he loves his little brother deeply, yet he manages to cause his brother much more harm than good.

The young woman, initially shallow, hiding behind a wall of anger and insecurity mascarading as confidence and forced sexiness, making terrible choices in relation to men and education, essentially selling herself almost as short as a young woman could.  And yet, she is one of the more impressive character transformations on the show.  We watch her evolve before our eyes into an motivated, intelligent woman.  After being a flaky and toxic friend for too long, we watch her slowly grow into a loyal, compassionate and loving friend.

There are a number of other impressive and memorable characters, all of whom you will come to know as you watch.

Surprisingly as the viewer, the football games become exciting without one even knowing it's happening.  It creeps up on you.  As you come to care for the players and their plights, you feel excitement during the football games, rooting for not only the team but for the characters you have come to know and feel for as well.



The Coach and his wife, Tammy have an impressive and believe-able marriage.  In fact, I think their marriage is one of the few solid, very emotionally healthy, loving and yet still realistic marriages that has been portrayed on television in years.  Their marriage is filled with love, a deep friendship with lots of talking and connection, much compromise, laughter, and yet disagreements here and there about navigating through life in general, which they always manage to do with their respect and deep love for one another intact.



I cannot recommend this show enough.  It is exciting, it's relatable, the characters are wonderfully drawn and realistic, the setting is a town and community one can imagine being a part of and almost feels like they are after watching the show.  You will be sad to leave Dillon, Texas when the show ends.

Here is a link to another excellent Friday Night Lights review I read.  It's short, well-written and interesting.  I recommend reading it.  It's titled "Why Friday Night Lights is one of the best US shows in recent years."

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