I’ve resisted writing about the TV show Friday Night Lights for two reasons: first, no self-respecting porcher will admit to watching TV, much less singing its praises; and, second, I’ve been waiting to see how the story plays itself out. From its very promising first season, through the trainwreck of season two and the redemption of season three, the show has captured, or at least tried to, something about the persons with whom all of us interact. Season Five has, so far, been superb.
The show has been uneven in its efforts to capture the contours of life in small-town America, a teenage wasteland of narcissism brought on, in no small part, by the utter failure of the town’s adults. In the middle of the chaos and confusion, however, are genuine moments of tenderness, grace, enlightenment, and the effort to construct a real community. For all the ways they fail one another, the citizens of Dillon still manage, on occasion, to come through for one another, and in any case realize their mutual dependence. They may dream beyond Dillon, but they live completely within it. Brimming over with shortcomings, but enjoying those brief instances where their better selves actually shine through, the people of Dillon provide something of a mirror to American life.
The latest New York Times Magazine has a nice little comparison of FNL with the widely watched Glee (which I confess I haven’t seen). The author gets at some of the important elements of the show, even if a New Yorker will never truly get what a show like this is about.