Review of Friday Night Lights: (TV Show)
Summary: The trials and tribulations of small town Texas football players, their friends, family, and coaching staff.
It’s been a year since the lights went out over Hermann Field and Friday Night Lights reached its finale after five hard won and critically acclaimed seasons. However it’s my mission with this review to get you to go back and watch.
At first glance you’d think the show is strictly about football but you’d be wrong. It’s a family drama that uses football as its backdrop and mechanism to pull the characters together. Friday Night Lights has many varied unique and colorful characters. It deals with real life issues and manages to be heartfelt and poignant without being schmaltzy and annoying.
The thing that drew me even more than Taylor Kitsch’s very good looks was the fact that I felt I knew these people and could relate to them. After a main character gets paralyzed in the pilot I had to come back and see what happened to these people. Even though the hook the writers used was so obvious and a bit cruel it didn’t come off as contrived. Thanks I think in great part to Eric Taylor’s pilot ending speech.
I cared what happened to these characters. I wanted Jason to find his way, I longed for Tim to find happiness that wasn’t dependent on Lyla or anyone else. I sincerely hoped that Tyra reached all of her dreams. I was constantly humbled by Matt Saracen’s selflessness and maturity. I was happy that Smash reached his goals despite all of his hurdles getting there.
I most identified with Julie and wanted her to find her own place in the world.
Eric & Tami Taylor’s marriage is one of the most realistic ones on TV and it gives you something to aspire too and hope you’ll find.
You feel the team’s victories and failures as though they are your own.
For me FNL is more than a High school drama with football thrown in. It’s about love, friendship, forgiveness and failing with grace. It’s about reaching dreams. It’s about those places and people that make you who you are.
The real and only downfall of the show? Is the shortness of the last three seasons. Sometimes the characters would get short changed due to time constraints.
As a Julie fan I often felt the writers didn’t know what to do with her or Aimee Teegarden’s talents so she would come off as more confused or impetuous than she actually was. I wanted Julie to find her place without Matt or anyone else and it never happened. Also, the very sweet Tim/Julie storyline in season two was on the bubble a lot of fans liked it but it was dropped in season in favor of other pairings.
The lead pipe murder storyline will make the most diehard fan roll their eyes. Just take it with a grain of salt and remember that Tyra/Landry couldn’t have happened any other way and you’ll love the pairing I promise.
Other than that the show is very nearly perfect.
FNL was my favorite way to spend a Friday night and I hope you watch it and come to love it as I have.
Tim Riggins – played by Taylor Kitsch is town bad boy, teen drunk and talented full back being raised by his older brother. Tim is laid back and known for bad decisions but has a heart of gold. Life seems to forever knock down Riggs but he always gets back up. Taylor Kitsch’s performances are by turns humorous and riveting. Watch him. He’s my favorite character on the show.
Must see scenes – wind sprints season 1, El Accidente, S1, There Goes The Neighborhood S2, leaving his cleats on the field in season 3, the end of new York new York S3, Thanksgiving season 4, the scene with Mindy, and the parole hearing season 5.
Julie Taylor – As played by Aimee Teagarden is the Taylors’ oldest daughter. Julie is smart and always trying find where she belongs. She befriends the town bad girl Tyra and does the unthinkable by her own standards and falls in love with QB1 Matt Saracen.
Must See Scenes – The car conversations with Eric in season 2 and Tami in season 4, the college admissions office scene in season 4.
Jason Street – Played by Scott Porter is the QB destined for greatness before a sloppy tackle paralyzes him. It is often said that Jason Street is the heart of the show but to me he was the conscience of FNL. This character could have been cliché but it wasn’t he was so gracefully portrayed and realistically written. No matter how hard he struggled to find the new Jason he always tried to do the right thing and lead with his heart. I promise you, you will love Jason Street!
Must see Scenes – The accident in the pilot, the punch scene in season one episode 8, the awkward date with the girl who’s into pee in season 2, the scene in New York with Erin in season 4. El accidente season 1
Eric Taylor - Is the Head Coach of the Dillon Panthers and later the East Dillon Lions. He doesn’t speak often but when he does people listen. He is patient and caring and is father to more than just Julie and Gracie Belle. He’s father figure and role model to his players. He is played by the Emmy award winning Kyle Chandler.
Must See Scenes – The end of the pilot, the scene in the car with Julie at the bar in season 2, the hospital scene in season 1 with Jason!
Tyra Collette – the town bad girl with big dreams who turns it all around and learns that anything is possible and that it’s ok to trust people. Is played by Adrienne Palicki.
Must see scenes – the scenes with Tami in S1, her college essay and acceptance to UT in S3, series finale scene with Tim in Season 5.
Matt Saracen – the shy second string quarterback forced into greatness, is really just a kid who takes care of his grandmother who has dementia. He’s an artist who never stops loving Julie Taylor is beautifully played by Zach Gilford.
Must see scenes – all of season 1, the everybody leaves shower scene in S2, the nursing home bit in season 3 funeral episode in season 4.
Writing & Cinematography: The writing is organic and touching, it’s so real and often funny in great part to the Writers’ ability to give the actors freedom with their dialogue. Tim’s catchphrases were all mostly ad-libbed by Taylor Kitsch. Coach’s speeches were often given outlines but Kyle Chandler filled in most of them. He was also to have said “I want to say less.” Often. The writing is flawless and lovely.
Cinematography: FNL used three hand held cameras to shoot the show. Which lead to unique and realistic shots. The lighting is beautiful and thanks to using real locations you felt as though you were right there.
How it relates to the book: The movie relates the team and people book that the TV show doesn’t. Though the show told the story of a town its people and the socio economic placement of a town better than the movie.
The book is about a specific Texas town and team in the 1980’s it’s not a bad book but isn’t filled with drama like you’d expect it reads more Autobiographical than novel. It was a nice read but not a re-read.
I have to say it guys! Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can’t Lose.