I haven’t done an actual #CurrentlyWatching post over a year (I am not joking, the last one was back in 2018), so this should prove to you how important this show is to me. While I very much enjoy the short-opinion paragraphs I offer you in my “What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching” feature, I simply could not resist writing a proper full length post about Friday Night Lights. Yes, it was THAT good!
Friday Night Lights is a Football-centric sports drama series set in Texas that ran from 2006 until 2011 on NBC. Even before the show, there was a movie with the same title in 2004, however, the show is not a continuation, but the story told anew (names are different, etc.). I very much realise that I am super late to the party, but I don’t think the show ever aired in my own country and honestly, Football wasn’t much of a priority of mine until recently.
Friday Night Lights follows Football team at a Texan High School, with a special focus on the coach, Eric Taylor, his wife, daughter and a select number of players. The show highlights the struggles each and every member of this tight-knit community has to face.
I am not sure I have the vocabulary to describe how this show made me feel. A lot of people think that Friday Night Lights is a piece of flawless work of television, I do not agree with that statement. Do I think it is utterly brilliant? Compelling and emotional and addicting? Absolutely! But … it is not perfect and that is okay. Some characters fell victim to bad timing and writer’s strikes, some storylines never got resolved properly, but regardless, Friday Night Lights manages to reel you in, create an emotional connection and make this an unforgettable experience. I am not surprised that it has become a TV classic at all.
At first, I was unsure about the style. There’s mostly use of hand-held camera and extreme close ups that give the entire show a certain documentary-esque look. But after having gotten used to it, I found that these specific cinematographic choices added to the feeling of really being with the characters and in the moment yourself. After some time, you could almost think you are living in Dillon, Texas, yourself.
One of the massive strengths of Friday Night Lights is managing to create a universal appeal, despite a very specific setting and situation. I really am not a Football buff, but I was so invested in the outcome of these games. I literally jumped up and cheered or flailed in agony at a loss (to the dismay of the people around me) whenever the team played.
This show is about so much more than Football though. It’s also so much more than the artistic choices taken. It’s first and foremost about people. People you root and care for. Great storytelling that involves aspects of life that feel authentic and relevant. Not everyone is nice all the time, not everyone is perfect and not every conflict gets a satisfying resolution, but that is life. And life is messy and beautiful.
So, there are some seasons that are better than others, but if you look at the show as a whole, it’s really a piece of television art. I didn’t need them to pair everyone up all neat and nicely, but I did appreciate that we got a look at what was in store. At how the lives of everyone changed and how they were impacted by the relationships they formed in that small town in Texas.
Now, there are very many characters to love. Picking just one honestly feels a little bit like a crime. Obviously, Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is an iconic character and so is his wife, as portrayed by Connie Britton. Both carried a heavy portion of this show on their backs and respect that to no end. They were the adult voices of reason and are 100% the kind of educators and support system I wish every child would receive in their academic career. Then there are so many fantastic characters on and off the field that brought me laughter and tears alike. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case anyone still wants to check it out or hasn’t seen it, but it all comes down to one thing: Looking at the five glorious seasons that I have just watched, the standout character for me remains Tim Riggins (portrayed by Taylor Kitsch).
While the team constantly changed and not even all adults stuck around, you get to follow Tim Riggins’ journey through all seasons. You meet him as a bit of a mess and watch him grow and change, while one thing remains – he cares so much about everyone around him! He was never after glory or recognition and I will never forget the one ultimate sacrifice he pulled, because IT. BROKE. MY. HEART. And yes, I went so far as to draw that very moment, because I am that extra.
Everyone sort of used Tim as their personal punching bags. He was called “useless”, “disgusting”, “unwanted”, “lazy”, “mediocre” and many more ugly words, while all I saw was a very lost boy. Kitsch was probably in his 20s when this was filmed, but all I could see was the fragility of abandoned youth. Someone who put everyone’s needs above his own. He wasn’t a perfect gentleman or anything like that, he made plenty of mistake and probably drank way too much, but he also had a certain nobility about him and he loved those around him unconditionally. Every time he was on screen, my heart broke just a little bit and while many wanted more out of the finale (which I kind of get but also not), I thought Tim was exactly where he was supposed to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do.
I can honestly say that I feel like this show has spoiled me for almost all other TV. I am nursing a huge hangover now, after I decided to watch the final episode on this very Friday. There’s just something poetic about ending it all on this day.
So, there is only one thing to say to finish this post:
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.
Have you watched FNL? Do you want to? What is a show that has completely grabbed you lately?