Dear Friday Night Lights, I Will Always Love You
I am a fan of realistic television. Not reality television (although I love Top Chef, and have watched a few episodes here and there of Kitchen Nightmares, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.. and yeah, a few minutes of Jersey Shore), but the shaky cam, make you sob like a baby kind. Friday Night Lights does this better than almost anybody. And Wednesday, on Direct TV, it takes it’s final bow.
Fall 2006. I’m living in Queens, recently unemployed, and television is taking me away. Heroes premiered around then, but the show I was most excited about, being from Texas, was the one about high school football with the constant commercials set to Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name.”
(Fan edited video..)
Yes, I remember all of this. I was pumped. I watched the premiere and could not have been more hooked.
The show had his flaws, they retconned the characters to make several of them younger, they’ve gotten rid of some characters without much fanfare and introduced a few that they haven’t followed up on, they have had some ridiculous plot lines, and let’s not even get started on the murder in Season 2. But at its core, Friday Night Lights was simply one of the best shows that will ever be on television.
It’s a shame that it never caught on, ABC Family started to rerun it from the beginning and pulled it because the ratings were horrific (and when ratings are below expectations for a syndication show airing at 6pm.. I don’t even know what to say), and I can’t even begin to explain how it could have been marketed better or what should have been done to find an audience.
But this show has presented me with some of the greatest television memories I will ever have. Think of Saracen at the funeral. Riggins and Street in New York City. Smash’s smiling face in his last episode. Landry’s field goal. Texas forever. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Vince asking Coach not to go. Matt chasing Julie’s car in Chicago. The Riggins Bros, Street and Herc flipping the house. I’ve already mentioned the Fort Minor commercial, but think of the promos with My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” or Tony Lucca’s “Devil Town.” Tell me that you can ever hear “Devil Town” and not think of FNL. And beyond the promos, the use of Explosions in the Sky, Spoon, Iron & Wine, White Rabbits, Sufjan Stevens and Avett Brothers. SERIOUSLY. I just looked her name up, but I’ll be damned if Liza Richardson is not the best music supervisor in the business.
And the theme song? Gives me chills. I have rarely fast-forwarded through the credits on this show.
The show could not have gotten more things right. Small town Texas, school problems, relationship issues, first loves, racism, asshole men and women, steroids, recruiting issues, the desire to just GET OUT of where you grew up, the need to prove yourself, respect, trust, loyalty and Kyle Chandler’s almond eyes.
I have not, since the days of Sports Night, been more attached to a set of characters. And at this point in time, I think that Mr and Mrs Taylor, Tim Riggins, and Matt Saracen are some of the best TV characters that have ever been written. The thought that after Wednesday, Coach Taylor and his merry band of Dillon Panthers/East Dillon Lions are off of my TV screen forever, is almost sadder than every episode ever combined.
I hope that five years from now, everyone I know has seen it. That it becomes one of those shows that everyone watches after the fact. An Arrested Development or The Wire. Because one of the hardest things about it is not ever having anybody to discuss it with. It’s like having this shiny secret jewel that you want to split into pieces with everyone in the world and nobody even noticing it’s there. Horrible analogy aside, I’m glad that Direct TV stepped in and saved the day, that they are getting to end the show they want, complete with a goodbye parade of old favorites. Mostly, I’m glad that I got five seasons of bliss.