Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Friday Night Lights" is back in the game

No. I will not do it.
I simply won't.
I refuse to follow the lead of every other TV writer/blogger who has written about the renewal of NBC's excellent, yet low-rated drama "Friday Night Lights." I absolutely won't make some sort of clever play on the series' motto "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can't Lose" in this piece. That would be cliched and hackneyed. I am above that.
However, I will say that I was absolutely thrilled when NBC and DirecTV announced this week that they'd be picking up "FNL" for not one, but two more seasons. Though I was a late comer to the series, I've loved it ever since I started watching it during the middle of season one. It's remarkable for a number of reasons. One, it's among the few shows to capture the way that real teenagers speak and act. Yes, there are unrealistic moments, like Landry committing murder in season two (nope, still not over that) and Street getting a job with a high-powered sports agency just by wanting it really badly. But there are moments that make up for all that, like the one this season when Tyra finally realized how bad Cowboy Cash was for her. It was dark and painful and scary -- just as it would be for a real teenager.
Two, the show portrays possibly the most realistic marriage on TV, between Coach Taylor (played flawlessly by Kyle Chandler) and "Mrs. Coach" Tami Taylor (an equally excellent Connie Britton). Yes, they fight. But, unlike most TV couples, they are genuinely loving and affectionate.
Three, "FNL" gives us possibly the most realistic teenage girl on TV right now in Julie Taylor (Aimee Teagarden, in yet another of the show's pitch perfect performances). She's sometimes a spoiled brat, but so are a lot of teenaged girls. Julie is constantly trying to find her place in the world, even if it means butting heads with her parents (the scenes among Britton, Chandler and Teagarden are among the show's best).
Four, Tim Riggins. Need I say more?
True, Riggins, Matt and a lot of the show's other main characters are set to graduate at the end of this season, which -- along with the show's poor ratings -- made a fourth season seem unlikely. Having already seen the third season in its entirety on DirecTV last year (it's currently airing on NBC), I can confirm that many characters' arcs seem to be coming to an end. But the season finale does set up some juicy story lines for potential new seasons.
So I'm looking forward to those two new seasons. After all, clear eyes, full hearts...oh damn.

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