Friday Night Lights—the show that ran on NBC for five seasons from 2006 to 2011 and starred Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as a high school football coach and his wife—is about so much more than high school football. It’s a brilliant drama that asks questions like: How do the lives of individuals impact the trajectory of a community? What does it mean to be equal partners in a marriage? How do groups of people with few resources engage with the world around them, and what brings them together?
In particular, it’s the dark, brooding, alcoholic, and inexplicably high school-aged Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch)—who craves goodness but has trouble making it happen—that personifies the show’s morality. He’s a good person who does bad things but ultimately makes sacrifices that better the lives of his family and friends. In the pilot, Tim Riggins says (of his playing style), “I just like to hurt people,” and it’s a delight to find out, over the subsequent five seasons, that this may not truly be the case. This is all to credit Kitsch, who embodies this character and is able to convey more by staying stony and silent than many other actors can by opening their mouths. Sometimes an actor and a character just fit.
Other highlights include sweet, excitable Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), endearing albino nerd Landry “Lance” Clarke (Jesse Plemons), and ultra-talent Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan), who carries the final two seasons when the show introduces an almost entirely new high school cast.
Friday Night Lights humanizes real people in small-town America and is the text that I turn to when I’m feeling blue or need to remind myself that the Americans who live in places like Dillon, Texas are human beings who, at the very least, deserve to have people like me consider how collapsing industry, lack of economic and social mobility, and suffocatingly small communities may have shaped their point of view.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!
Have a lovely day, everybody!