I just finished watching the first season of Friday Night Lights on nbc.com and can I just say it is not in the least bit over hyped by all those critics who’ve been swearing by its brilliance for a year. I’m the last person to ever watch something about football. I’m the last person to watch something set in Texas, I’m the last person to watch something shot in a dark and gritty style and I’m the last person to ever watch a show based on a Billy Bob Thorton movie. I am, however, someone who will give anything the critics love a chance.
After the pilot I liked it. After mid season I really liked it. After the season 1 finale I LOVE it- I love it to the extent that it’s made the Facebook Favourite TV shows list. The characters are so well developed through both writing and performance that it makes me wonder how 1) these young actors are only being discovered now, 2) Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler have, until now, been bit players and guest stars, 3) I wasn’t watching this before and 4) no one else is watching at all. Every single character is so multidimensional that even the ones I started out hating turned out to be characters I really cared about.
Coach Taylor and his wife are the most believable and wonderful couple Ive seen on screen since Paul and Jamie left us (Mad About You). They are kind, compassionate and caring while plagued with an array of flaws that I recognise in my own parents. Julie, who I initially couldn’t stand, has turned into a wonderful character whose plight I really invest in (and her relationship is so lovely to watch blossoming), Tim Riggins went from the loser parody of a typically conflicted character to one of the sweetest yet (as the Grey’s characters would say “dark and twisty”) characters ever. Tyra, similarly, deepened with every minute of screen time she got and is now one of my favourites. Now mind you Miss Lyla’s not a character I’ll ever really love but she has a few moments of pathos too. Jason Street makes my heart ache- the scene when he set about passing on his knowledge to Matt made me cheer out loud. Matt is typically lovely (though you knew that from the beginning) and while Smash started out as a parody and still has his moments of being completely annoying, his late season scenes with his family and with Waiverly (particularly the one outside the diner) make him spectacular in my eyes.
This show is not about football. It’s about people and life and love and everything. Football is a backdrop, a metaphor for what’s going on on a deeper level. Matt’s growing confidence in himself is reflected in his leadership as QB1. Every time Riggins takes a hit to protect Smash on the field it represents their growing friendship and race relations within the team. The way they take to heart what coach Taylor says reflects their characters. when the coach runs a play Matt developed it shows not only his confidence in the boy as a leader and as QB1 but it shows that he trusts him in his relationship with his daughter.
It wont get a third season without a huge jump in viewership. It shows NBC’s dedication to content that it (and 30 Rock for that matter) are still on at all. We owe it to the network to prove to them that we notice when they give us something other than what’s economically smart. In picking Friday Night Lights up for a second season, the network chose what was right over what was right for their team (something coach Taylor struggles with on a weekly basis) and for that they deserve at least a PVR recording every week.
Watch it- not only will it contribute to the salvation of intelligent scripted television but there’s so much you can learn from these fascinating and complicated characters.
So, say it with me y’all….
“clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”