Monday, February 09, 2009

Why I Love Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights is like nothing I've ever seen. 

This week's episode, entitled "Hello, Goodbye" was a perfect example of everything that makes this show so remarkable. No one slept with their best friend's brother or keeled over from a heart attack; there was no brain surgery, no malicious plotting, no robots, no aliens and no perfectly-timed, unrealistically witty jokes. In fact there was nothing in this episode that I hadn't seen before, not on my TV but in life. 

The stories of Friday Night Lights resonate far more clearly than anything else on TV because they don't, by status quo standards, belong there. A main plot this week was a girl choosing her new boyfriend over caring for her loyal friend who'd just gotten his wisdom teeth taken out- that was the entire story; her guilt, his sense of abandonment and the fact that the audience could undoubtedly relate to one or both of them, that was the drama. 

The real world quality of these stories may make Friday Night Lights seem small but it's the show's ability to find the big drama in small things that gives it it's gravity. 
Few stories on TV are as dramatic as Matt Saracen's quiet struggle to care for his grandmother and none are more inspiring than Smash Williams' pursuit of his college dreams (a storyline that was wrapped up perfectly this week and will be truly missed; Gaius Charles was one of the show's brightest gems). And the inherent passion that sports inspires gives the show a dramatic center to fall back on; what's more exciting than Arizona's big comeback touchdown that put the Superbowl on the line or more dramatic than a Red Sox ninth inning rally? 

But the real reason that Friday Night Lights flourishes with such small, human stories is that the characters within them are supremely human. They're jeans and t-shirt wearing, high school sports playing, mistake making, not always particularly eloquent people who spend far too much of their time at the local Applebees. But I care about them; in all their unimpressive splendor, the residents of Dillon Texas are so inspiring that I am on the edge of my seat when one of them goes in to get his wisdom teeth removed. 

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