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.