Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Cheesy as it may sound, that is my new life motto because I am officially obsessed with Friday Night Lights. It’s SUCH a great show that I burned through all 22 episodes of season one in days and immediately went out and bought season two – which I can’t wait to start.
Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about the show before I tell you more about it.
- It is NOT all about football. I know it seems that way, but trust me. People told me that before I started watching and I was all like “Yeah yeah, sure”, but in my head I was all like “Like hell it’s not, it is about a FOOTBALL team in TEXAS. Everything in Texas is about football.” And yeah, the show is about football. But it’s about other stuff too, so don’t not watch Friday Night Lights because you don’t like football, because that is not required to enjoy the show.
- It is not all about high school. When I told my boyfriend the show was good and offered to lend him the first disc so he could check it out, he was hesitant. I was surprised – he likes sports, so I thought it would be right up his alley. Turns out he didn’t think teen dramas were his thing. Well, there is a lot more to the show that teen angst and drama. After all, the main character is the coach.
- It is not cheesy. Does it have somewhat cheesy moments? Sure, sort of. There are values portrayed, and team dynamics are important – you know, leadership, cooperation, hard work. All that good stuff. But it is a truly good show. It’s well-written, well -acted and character driven.
OK, let’s talk characters.
Eric Taylor is the new high school football coach in Dillon, Texas. In the first episode you see just how fanatical people in small town Texas get over high school football. The players are elevated to celebrity status and there is a lot of pressure on Coach Taylor to take the Dillon Panthers to state. His wife, Tami, is the high school’s guidance counselor and his 15 year old daughter Julie attends the school.
What I love about this family is Eric and Tami’s marriage. It is probably one of the most functional and realistic marriage on TV. They communicate with each other, they argue, they have differing views on matters but respect each other’s opinions.
Matt is a great character. As the new quarterback for the Dillon panthers, there is a lot of pressure on him to perform well. But he also faces a lot of other responsibilities, the biggest that he lives with his senile grandmother. His mother left when he was young and his emotionally distant, army man father is away in Iraq, leaving him to take care of his grandmother, himself and the house. He’s shy, stammers a lot and has a huge crush on the coach’s daughter Julie.
Lyla Garrity, Buddy Garrity and Jason Street
Jason Street is a former star quarterback who dates popular cheerleader Lyla Garrity. Without giving too much away, they face a lot of obstacles in their relationship throughout the first season. Lyla’s father, Buddy, is the owner of a local car dealership and an influential booster (people who give money to the football team). He’s overly involved in the football team and is often a thorn in Coach Taylor’s side.
Tim is one of my favorite characters. Like Matt, he doesn’t have any parents in his life, but he handles it much worse. Tim lives with his older brother and has a drinking problem. He screws up a lot and could be a better player if he focused more on football and less on partying and girls. Still, throughout the season you see that he really is a good kid and he grows on you.
Smash is your typical star football player – he thinks a lot of himself, talks abut himself in the third person, and puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform. I didn’t like him at first, but throughout the season he grew on me. Like many other characters, as you get to know the story of Smash’s home life you begin to understand the layers of his character and he becomes more sympathetic.
Tyra is probably my favorite character in season one. She’s originally portrayed as the town tramp, but as the season goes on you get to see she’s much more than that. Her mother dates bad guy after bad guy, her sister works as a stripper, and she is the only person in her family who tries to make something of herself.
Although a lot of season one revolves around whether the Dillon Panthers will make it to State Championships, there is a lot more to the story arc than that. So much rides on going to state – Coach Taylor’s job, the players’ chances of getting to attend university – that even if you don’t care about football, you care about the Dillon Panthers. Each character’s story unfolds slowly, which is why so many of my first impressions of characters changed. What the show is truly about is the life of Coach Taylor and his family, and the lives of the students and their families as well. Whether or not you like football stories, high school stories, or inspirational stories, this show is so well done that it will suck you in.