I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but ‘American Idol’ is back. And ‘The Office’ finally returns from a holiday hiatus tonight. And, ‘Lost’’s season premiere is next week! It’s like Christmas all over again! As much as I love (love love) them, each of these shows has their fair share of viewers. Another show is finally returning to mainstream prime time this week, and it deserves all our attention. I’m speaking, of course, of ‘Friday Night Lights.’
Love the sport or hate it, just like the book (and way moreso than the movie) the show isn’t about football. It’s about a town and its relationships. Husband and wife, mothers and daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends, football coach and booster president, divorcing parents and their children, brothers, moms and sons, guidance counselor and students. And it's awesome.
Too general for you? Here are just three things that I love about Friday Night Lights:
Tami: The coach’s wife and high school guidance counselor (upgrading to Principal in this new season) is one of the most fiercely realistic women on television today. Realistic because she’s this super supportive wife and mom who also keeps her family firmly in check and aware of her expectations. She’s this sweet, tough woman, and she is played with amazing subtlety by Connie Britton.
Smash & his Mom: Smash is the running back on the football team, and, after fallen quarterback Jason Street, the one with the most God-given ability and best chance of going far. He’s been told his whole life how amazing he is, and he’s hardheaded and cocky – in an incredibly lovable way. When things go wrong – a knee injury, a team suspension, race issues – he’s likely to have a [voluntary or forced] conversation with his mom, who breaks it all down for him and makes the world make sense again, in a way that makes me cry pretty much every time.
And you want to talk about moving scenes? Tami as Corinna’s patient at the clinic, finding out she’s pregnant.
Having been a senior at the end of last season, Smash won’t be a character for much longer – and I am going to miss these two.
Tyra: I'm not all that attached to Tyra in particular, especially not compared to Riggins, Saracen or even Street, but Tyra is a great representation of why, collectively, I love all these characters so much; She has relationships with everyone: Ex-girlfriend of Riggins, close friend to Julie, frenemies with Lyla, love interest of Landry, pet project of Tami. We know how much I love all things ensemble, and it’s probably not a coincidence that, just like ‘Lost’ and ‘The Office,’ the characters on ‘Friday Night Lights’ are at their best when interacting with one another in new and unexpected ways.
‘Friday Night Lights’ tries to do a lot of things, and it succeeds at pretty much all of them. It’s about teenagers without being cheesy. It’s about a sports team without being predictable. It’s about a relationship that’s actually realistic (Talking about Tammie and Eric here, because even I can’t get fully behind the logic of Lyla and Riggins giving it a real shot.). It’s consistently among the best television available and you should watch it. Got it?