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Friday Night Lights says goodbye

friday-night-lights

I’m writing this post for the readers out there that haven’t watched Friday Night Lights.

Everyone who already watched the series finale Friday night on NBC or earlier on DirecTV doesn’t need convincing.  Diehards have been treated this week to a lot of great look backs at the show from an oral history on Grantland.com to a huge sendoff from NPR.

That’s a lot of attention for a program that barely anyone watched.  MDS has a voracious appetite for quality television and is obviously a huge football nut.  He’s never seen the show. I didn’t finally start watching until they were in the middle of season three, well after Bill Simmons pleaded to his readers to save the show.

The journey Friday Night Lights took through five seasons on various nights on NBC to an eventual home on DirecTv (with repeats on NBC) in many ways mirrored the travails of its lead character, coach Eric Taylor played by Kyle Chandler.

Chandler may have created the most indelible character in the history of network dramas.  Really.  I can’t think of a character that expressed more by saying less.  He nailed what a high school coach and football can mean to young men, without ignoring the personal and professional challenges of the gig.

Ultimately, the reasons no one watched the show is far less interesting than the show itself.  Chandler and Connie Britton (who played Tami Taylor)  absolutely nailed what a good marriage can be.  I can’t think of a better or more realistic marriage on TV. It nailed the importance of football to a small town, how the sport infects everything around it.  (For good and bad.)

The music, directing, and editing were incredible. In some many ways, the relationships felt real.  More than any show I can think of, it made its fans care about the characters.  (Even through an uneven second season.) It’s the show that my wife and I have loved the most equally, and I’ve heard numerous couples say the same thing.

Friday Night Lights was nominated for its first Best Drama Emmy this year, in addition to repeat noms for Chandler and Britton.  While Emmy love isn’t proof of greatness — The Wire was always ignored — the nod for FNL’s terrific fifth season is typical for the show.

It’s a show people have found out about slowly.  Like The Wire, its impact will only grow with time.  Texas Forever.

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45 Responses to “Friday Night Lights says goodbye”
  1. Drew Silva says: Jul 16, 2011 7:39 PM

    Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.

  2. bleedgreen4life says: Jul 16, 2011 7:47 PM

    Been watching this show since season one. More people should have watched it but you can’t expect to get great ratings when you switch the airing time to 8pm on friday nights. Great show though. I recommend it to any football fan.

  3. chaz1975 says: Jul 16, 2011 7:51 PM

    One of my favorite shows right from the beginning. I think a lot of people didn’t watch it because they thought it was a show about football. Those that watched it know it was much more than that, The sport they played in the show almost didn’t matter because the show was about the relationships between the coach and his team and with his family and everyone else involved. The acting was very good and had a real feel to it. It was about so much more than football but unfortunately only those that saw the show knew that. Here’s to a great show!

  4. dccowboy says: Jul 16, 2011 7:52 PM

    All my Exes live in Texas, and Texas is the place I want to be…

  5. cw3214 says: Jul 16, 2011 7:52 PM

    You are really going to compare The Wire to Friday Night Lights?

  6. pftbillsfan says: Jul 16, 2011 7:56 PM

    whose letting weepy Greg write the posts, so dramatic.

  7. ianwhetstone says: Jul 16, 2011 7:58 PM

    I’ve not watched a single episode of Friday Night Lights, but you’re absolutely right about The Wire. In retrospect, it’s almost impossible to believe that the hands-down best show in the history of television never got anything but a courtesy nomination in its final season for any major awards.

  8. theecowardlylion says: Jul 16, 2011 8:03 PM

    People are Fu@cking idiots. I know better than to count on them to recognize quality. Justin Beiber, McDonalds, Miller Lite, Dancing With The Stars, Transformer movies, Pontiac automobiles… These are pillars of our society. Losing quality products because we’re too stupid tosupport them…. That sucks.

    I’ve been glued to Peter Berg’s masterpiece for 5 seasons until my local NBC affiliate decided the lemmings would rather watch a car chase two Fridays ago.

    Thanks my fellow Amerimorons.

  9. melonnhead says: Jul 16, 2011 8:09 PM

    God Bless Texas, and God Bless Texas football.

  10. dbick says: Jul 16, 2011 8:34 PM

    great, great show. One of the best of the last decade. If you haven’t seen it I definitely recommend it, however feel free to skip season 2. The show basically abandons any storyline that happened in it.

  11. citizenstrange says: Jul 16, 2011 8:34 PM

    My high school home games were on Saturday afternoon because there were too many fights at Friday night games.

    On the road against out bitterest rivals we had to put our gear bags up against the bus windows as we left because we would get bricked.

    I went to the same high school as Charlie Batch, Steel Valley High School in Pittsburgh, but in the 70s.

    Our colors were maroon & gold and our uniforms looked just like USC.

  12. superdave4good says: Jul 16, 2011 8:39 PM

    I’ve been a fan of FNLs from the beginning as well. Already stated, the cast, the acting, production, everything was absolutely GREAT. This show was definitely about so much more than football but high school football in Texas was the obvious anchor. It was about life, family, friendships, growing up, & so many other important life issues. The show truly was a masterpiece considering all the crappy TV spits out. I would highly recommend people who haven’t watched to go rent the seasons. You will be touched & perhaps even become a better person not to mention have a better understanding of how much high school football means to communities. Such a great show.
    Speaking of great football stories, I would also recommend a really well written John Gresham book called Bleachers…it too is so good.

  13. tfbuckfutter says: Jul 16, 2011 8:41 PM

    “bleedgreen4life says: Jul 16, 2011 7:47 PM
    Been watching this show since season one. More people should have watched it but you can’t expect to get great ratings when you switch the airing time to 8pm on friday nights. Great show though. I recommend it to any football fan.”

    They did the exact same scheduling crap with Freaks and Geeks and now Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segal just can’t stop crapping out money. (And to a lesser extent Martin Starr, Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips and Lizzy Caplin)…..

    Friday Night Lights was excellent from day one and continued to be (I do still have to catch up on this season though) through it’s entire haphazardly arranged run.

  14. citizenstrange says: Jul 16, 2011 8:46 PM

    Add to previous: We were the Steel Valley Ironmen. Can you deal with that?

  15. NFLJunkie says: Jul 16, 2011 9:10 PM

    Watched it since day 1 and will miss it, but felt like it ended before it had a chance to get old and tired. Quality work from all involved, including the cinematographers and music directors who helped give it such a unique atmosphere. Not often you get network TV that impressive, and if DirecTV is why it made it a few extra seasons with their “share” arrangement with NBC, then a big thanks to them, too.

    Texas forever, indeed.

  16. brettb3 says: Jul 16, 2011 9:12 PM

    “You are really going to compare The Wire to Friday Night Lights?”

    Yes. I think the Wire is slightly better, but FNL is damn close.

  17. dolfan28 says: Jul 16, 2011 9:15 PM

    I’ve also been watching this show from its debut. This has been hands down one of the GREATEST series I have ever seen. Sad to see it go. Especially when I see all the crap that keeps getting renewed every season.

  18. truwarier90 says: Jul 16, 2011 9:22 PM

    If Roger Goodell had any common sense, he would put this show on the nfl network, this show could be a potential gold mine, the cross promotion this show and the nfl could produce could be countless, nfl network already is based in los angeles, so they have the contacts, plus you could have nfl players, coaches, office personnel make cameos on the show.

  19. Deb says: Jul 16, 2011 9:45 PM

    Have never missed an episode, but still haven’t watched the DVR of the the finale–hate saying good-bye to a such a beautifully crafted series. Definitely a program for those who love the game, although it was about much more than football. Still, one of my favorite moments was newly fired Texas Tech coach Mike Leach appearing at a gas pump and counseling fictional Coach Taylor that he just needed to find his inner pirate again. I’ll echo the sentiment for Dillon … Texas Forever.

  20. hatesycophants says: Jul 16, 2011 10:54 PM

    Excellent show. Thank you.

  21. nfl25 says: Jul 16, 2011 11:04 PM

    i just discovered this show three weeks ago. i only watched the first season and a half so far but this is one of the best tv shows i have ever seen. even my girl loves it, so its not just for dudes that like football. if u havent seen it u need to rent it

  22. schmitty2 says: Jul 16, 2011 11:11 PM

    Maybe the show will come back with a new CBA??

  23. firejimcadwell says: Jul 16, 2011 11:15 PM

    Can @Jimirsay hire Eric Taylor to coach the Colts and fire that bumbling fool that he has in place?

  24. edonovan23 says: Jul 16, 2011 11:55 PM

    By far my favorite show of all time. Everything about it was great. I really wish it was not over.

  25. metalhead65 says: Jul 17, 2011 12:14 AM

    while on the subject of great shows what about 2 of the best on tv that get no emmy love? I am talking about Justified and the incredible Sons Of Anarchy. nothing to do with football but great shows you should be watching if you are not already.

  26. cowboysfaninpatriotsland says: Jul 17, 2011 12:56 AM

    NBC went the cheap route. They used The Cotton Bowl as the host stadium. The magnitude of the game in relationship to Texas would have been better had they used Cowboys Stadium!

  27. beauregard says: Jul 17, 2011 1:22 AM

    ESPN Classics is running season 1 right now. Three episodes per night. I hope they run seasons 2-5 in succession.
    Also the movie Friday Night Lights was very good, and even it was based on the book. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_Night_Lights:_A_Town,_a_Team,_and_a_Dream

  28. dontouchmyjunk says: Jul 17, 2011 1:30 AM

    At the very end of the NPR interview, Peter Berg hinted that this may NOT be the end of Friday Night Lights. Something is in the works, but he didn’t want to jinx it or tip his hand.

    It would be amazing to see this continue in some way shape or form. Are you listening HBO, or Showtime?

  29. Ryan Drescher says: Jul 17, 2011 1:43 AM

    Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose!

  30. *Legion* says: Jul 17, 2011 2:08 AM

    The thing that made FNL special is the flaws that every character had, and the depth those flaws gave them.

    Every character had realistic shortcomings that made them believable. And even more importantly, they weren’t consistent. They didn’t just follow the “here’s how this character would obviously react in this situation” script. Real people aren’t consistent. We’re very inconsistent, and TV characters who are similarly inconsistent are hard to write, but make for amazingly real feeling people when done right.

    The best things about FNL had nothing to do with football. TV fans who snubbed it because it was about something sports related screwed themselves out of an all-time great TV show.

  31. drjoshcaldwell says: Jul 17, 2011 2:52 AM

    I know that Friday night is a bad time to put a great show on, but come on. I haven’t met one person that watched this show and didn’t fall in love with it. I never watch any primetime shows and this one was so compelling, I couldn’t wait for the next episode. Why would they discontinue a show that was reveared so highly and replace it with a show about the big bad wolf, cause we don’t have enough vampire and werewolf shows already. I am just at a loss. My entire family, from my nephews to my girlfriend to my friends to my parents, all contest that it’s the best show they have ever seen. I am convinced that NBC made a huge mistake on this one. and they can make it up by picking up where they left off. Tammy can be disappointed with her job and miss wearing cowgirl boots, the Panthers can be disappointed with their coach and beg coach Taylor back and we can start it up again. Do the right thing NBC or I’ll never watch anything but the NFL on your chanel. I’m through.

  32. drjoshcaldwell says: Jul 17, 2011 2:53 AM

    Oh Yeah, Texas For Ever!

  33. reptar24 says: Jul 17, 2011 4:48 AM

    Tim Riggins = coolest fullback name, ever. Jason Street would have been the next Peyton Manning, Vince Howard was gonna be the next Michael Vick, and Luke Hafferty was the next Clay Matthews (maybe). Amazing show, one of my favorites, it will be missed.

  34. ncoolong says: Jul 17, 2011 8:02 AM

    “…Thanks my fellow Amerimorons.”

    No, thank YOU for automatically qualifying something you like with something of high quality. I chose not to watch this show after seeing the first few episodes because it was poorly acted, poorly written and overall, it didn’t hold a candle to previous products in the franchise (you know, the best-selling book?). Even the movie was 100 times better than the show, and at least it was original. What was the difference between the show and one of any of the dozens of teenie dramas on TV today? I didn’t see one.

    When something’s on for five years, and despite having multiple outlets from which to watch, and still no one does, don’t blame the masses.

  35. bjsippy1962 says: Jul 17, 2011 8:15 AM

    I had to buy it after i watched it! Great show!

  36. tfbuckfutter says: Jul 17, 2011 8:23 AM

    “metalhead65 says: Jul 17, 2011 12:14 AM
    while on the subject of great shows what about 2 of the best on tv that get no emmy love? I am talking about Justified and the incredible Sons Of Anarchy. nothing to do with football but great shows you should be watching if you are not already.”

    First, I agree SOA and Justified are both awesome.

    However, both Timothy Olyphant and Walter Goggins are nominated.

  37. ramcountry says: Jul 17, 2011 11:31 AM

    Watched a few episodes in season 1, could never get into it. Smugness is not a good quality, and it seemed every teenager on this show had it in spades.

  38. theecowardlylion says: Jul 17, 2011 11:40 AM

    “No, thank YOU for automatically qualifying something you like with something of high quality.”

    You’re welcome!

    “I chose not to watch this show after seeing the first few episodes.”

    Could’t compete with Two And A Half Men for your viewing interest, huh? Have a Miller Lite and a smile Beiber.

  39. androk23 says: Jul 17, 2011 12:13 PM

    Check out the band ‘Explosions In The Sky’.

    They did a lot of the music for FNL. I just found this out yesterday. FNL shall live on, via my iPod.

  40. Deb says: Jul 17, 2011 1:20 PM

    @metalhead65 …

    Justified has been the methadone helping me survive withdrawal from 24. Nothing replaces Jack Bauer, but it’s a brilliant show.

    @ncoolong …

    To each his own, but FNL is hardly a teenie drama. I’ve recommended it to friends parenting teens. Maybe if you’d stuck with it, you’d have learned to appreciate the adult material. Or maybe not. And Bissinger’s book was nonfiction. It inspired the series, but they’re two separate entities.

  41. bleedgreen4life says: Jul 17, 2011 4:01 PM

    cowboysfaninpatriotsland says:
    Jul 17, 2011 12:56 AM
    NBC went the cheap route. They used The Cotton Bowl as the host stadium. The magnitude of the game in relationship to Texas would have been better had they used Cowboys Stadium!

    ——————————————————

    I’m not sure if I am right here so correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the Dillon Panthers win state in Cowboy Stadium in one of the first two seasons?

  42. theecowardlylion says: Jul 17, 2011 4:30 PM

    “Check out the band ‘Explosions In The Sky’.

    They did a lot of the music for FNL. I just found this out yesterday. FNL shall live on, via my iPod.”

    Great band. Instrumental and thus not for everyone but great!

  43. homelanddefense says: Jul 18, 2011 10:41 AM

    I dont think any show in recent memory did a better job of making you relate to the characters. Such a great show, its too bad so many people missed the boat on this one.

  44. asublimeday says: Jul 18, 2011 5:09 PM

    Saracen and Julie’s relationship is about as realistic as a high school-to-adulthood relationship as it gets.

  45. bobfox4 says: Jul 21, 2011 1:31 PM

    The executives of the network should have their heads examined for canceling Fri Night Lights. I’m not sure how they do their surveys for who watches, but this program was one of the best, especially compared to the stupid reality shows now playing. You didn’t have to be a fan of football to stay interested. The many side stories is what really made the show. I hope another network decides to pick it up and maintain the format exactly as it was. Hopefully all the same actors will still be available.

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