For those of you that don’t know about FNL – the acronym stands for Friday Night Lights, the TV show. I’m the kind of person that primarily watches content regarding the supernatural – think BTVS (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Roswell, Angel, Supernatural, Grimm, and TVD (The Vampire Diaries). Having never watched the movie that spawned the TV show, I decided to give FNL a chance. Here’s some fun trivia, though. I actually chose to watch because of Jesse Plemons. I started watching the show the day the series finale premiered. Over the course of a few months, I devoured Breaking Bad and ended the show around President’s Day weekend. I recall checking out Plemons filmography on IMDB because he was on the last season of Breaking Bad. FNL was there. Prior to watching Breaking Bad, I had started watching Parenthood (okay, so I do watch a few shows that are grounded in reality but I don’t look for these shows on my own; it’s always a recommendation from a friend) and there were many people from Parenthood that had previously been on FNL. What the hell? I thought. What did I have to lose other than time?
I gotta tell ya, the first shot of the pilot did not grab me. Being an optimist, I kept watching. The third act grabbed me. No, scratch that – the last five minutes of the pilot actually. For those of you who haven’t watched the show ever, we follow Coach Taylor who coaches the Dillon Panthers in Dillon, Texas. We are introduced to all our main characters, especially Jason Street, the QB, who (spoiler alert) gets knocked out on the field and is rushed to the hospital. The QB 2 – Matt Saracen – finishes the game and that’s all she wrote. We already know that Matt will become a huge player on the show and poor Jason and his future in football. All of this happens in the pilot and I was rooting for Matt, but again, that episode didn’t pull me in. The second episode shows the aftermath of Jason’s injury and Lyla (the beautiful cheerleader girlfriend) who is doing her bestest to keep it together for him, even though a part of her doesn’t believe the hype. This story line made me stay and I’ll never regret the time invested in this show.
The reason I’m writing about FNL at this moment in time is because this show provided me a source of comfort. I don’t know how folks are watching TV today but moving images have always been my friend since I was a child. I watching moving pictures when I’m sad, lonely, or even upset. I recently moved to SF from NYC almost two years ago (in August) and am still seeking a tribe in this town. It’s tough for anyone to make new friends in a new city. I uncovered FNL in time when I was seeking solace and speaking to my friends from the east coast wasn’t enough. I watched FNL to show me how people who love and care about each other treat each other. With each episode, scene, and moment, each character on that show hugged me and showed me everything was going to be all right. Specifically, the trifecta heart of the show (for me) were Tim Riggins (played by eye candy/gentleman/lost man/sacrifices his life for his family/silent resilience/hardworking Taylor Kitsch), Coach Taylor (played by the charismatic leading man/dad/coach/mentor/etc Kyle Chandler) and Tami Taylor (his rock, the ying to his yang, his wife/friend/lover/mother of his children/principal/counselor/superwoman Connie Britton). I watched this show because of them. I’m not ignoring the ensemble cast either (Julie, Matt, Landry, Tyra, Smash, Buddy, Lyla, Vince, Tink, Luke, Jess, Becky, Billy, Mindy) because they also added so much to the world created in Dillon and East Dillon, Texas. This show made me appreciate organized sports as well. FNL illustrated how organized sports isn’t just about the physicality but the values like teamwork and sportsmanship that are created through this bond with their teammates. I’ve never been a sports person in my life; I didn’t even grow up paying much attention to sports but this show made me want to. I understood the game of football simply from watching each compelling play on the screen in an episode.
Peter Berg converted me and also in a way, saved me. He showed humanity, pure humanity, with no glitz or glamour and touched my soul in a way I’ll never forget.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.
Thank you, Friday Night Lights. You had a damn fine run and I’m so glad present technology allowed me to watch years after the show was over. Cheers!