Friday Night Lights Puts Friday in the Spotlight

You don’t have to be a big fan of high school football, or even know very much about football, to enjoy Friday Night Lights. Yes, the show is about football, in particular the huge role high school football teams plays in small towns like Dillon, Texas. The Panther football team just provides the framework against which a variety of stories can be told. I missed this show last season because I wasn’t that interested in a “sports show,” but so many people raved about it that I decided to get the DVDs and see what it was all about.

I was hooked right away. First of all, I have to say that I have the biggest, inappropriate crush on Matt Saracen. What a nice, good kid, taking care of his grandma. Aw, I just love him. Although he is my favorite character on the show, the town of Dillon is populated with nice, regular, good people. Yes, they have their conflicts and flaws, but their problems are normal problems; the realism of this show is a nice contrast to other shows on TV today. Compare Connie Britton’s Tami to any of the Botoxed, couture clad Desperate Housewives. Or the show’s teens to the martini-swilling junior socialites on Gossip Girl. Many of the scenes in the first season took place at the local Applebee’s, for crying out loud. What is more mundane than that?

All this normality shouldn’t make for good television, but it does. The problems faced by the characters on this show are so easy to relate to. They talk and act like normal people, and you can see your friends and neighbors (or yourself) reacting the same ways as the characters to the issues they face.

Season two premiered last Friday. NBC moved the show to Fridays, because they were afraid that because the show had the word “Friday” in the title and aired on Tuesdays was confusing for the viewers. This seems like kind of a silly way to handle a show with writing that doesn’t pander to or talk down to its audience. It also seems like a good way to alienate viewers who are big fans of high school football, presumably they’ll be at the weekly game when it is on. I’m OK with the move, though, because I think Friday’s less crowded schedule might give the show a chance to find more new viewers.

It looks like we can expect more realistic drama this season. Julie and Matt are drifting apart (is she crazy?); Tami has given birth, but may be suffering from postpartum depression. I’m very concerned about one plot element, though: Landry and Tyra’s confrontation with the man who assaulted her last season, which resulted in Landry bludgeoning him to death, and the two of them tossing the body off a bridge. This is a distinct departure from the realism of season one. The writers will need to follow this storyline throughout the season, and I hope they handle it well. Landry’s crush on Tyra is awfully sweet, so there is potential there for a nice relationship to develop between the two of them. If they otherwise stay away from far-fetched storylines, I think the show can maintain its tone. I only hope nobody gets attacked by a cougar during fall sweeps.

* * *

Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.