MDP ON TV: Friday Night Lights

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!

Friday Night Lights has been on my radar for a while, recommended to me by very good friends. Sometimes it takes a while for the time to be right to embark on immersing yourself into a fictional world, and with FNL I’ve been waiting for that prefect moment.

Trusting your unconscious to signal when that right time be has worked pretty well for me in the past. I believe its the intuitive part of the story-telling hindbrain that pops up and says, time to view.

Anyway, this is a long way around saying that I’m glad I waited. Why? I had a sporting related trip to the US in May this year and met a bunch of basketball coaches, went to a heap of colleges, and experienced first-hand the awe of the 80K football stadiums. Coming to this series after those experiences, makes my viewing of this series much more enriched. I totally get it, in a way I just wouldn’t have before. Australia is reknown for being a sport-obsessed nation, but there is a magnitude of belief and culture around sports in the US that doesn’t compare, even to here.

I’ve only watched the best part of two series but I’ve been impressed on SO many levels; the acting, the script, the story arcs, the delicate balance between heartbreak and joy. I believe some of the power in the story comes from the way it’s delivered. The show’s wiki states that the whole thing was filmed without blocking and rehearsal, so there’s a lot of hand-held follow around filiming and raw ad-libbing. The actors were encouraged to use their initiative. The EP’s quoted as saying, “no rehearsal, no blocking, just three cameras and we shoot.”

Deep into series two now, I’m finding only a few tiny instances of straying into melodrama, but many more of intelligent, soulful story-telling and social commentary. I feel terribly connected to all the characters – even Buddy Garrity! If I had to single a couple out, Taylor Kitsch is pretty much to-die-for in the role of bad boy, Tim Riggins, and Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor is quite superb. Of the female cast, the characters Lyla Garrity, Tyra Collette, Corinna Williams and Tami Taylor worked best for me ( and LOVE LOVE LOVE Lorraine “Grandma” Saracen).

The anatomy of Eric and Tami’s marriage with the arrival of a new baby and their separation due to work commitments is beautifully portrayed, as is the Jason (6) Street’s journey from athlete to quadraplegic, Smash, Saracen and Riggin’s different struggles into manhood and Tyra’s desperate attempt to break the family mold. So much is going on in this show and its organic feel contributes to creating the illusion that you’re listening and watching and being a part of your own friends and family’s lives.

Not sure if it was my own personal experiences with sport, but the game scenes NEVER failed to give me goose pimples. What makes me sad is that it didn’t reach a wider audience – as it seems viewers were put off by a notion that this was a story about football, when in fact it’s a complex narrative about how our choices define us.

Love it and trying not to watch it too fast!


  • Keith Stevenson

    One of my favourite shows :)

  • Thanks Keith, glad to hear that. What do you like most about it?

  • Keith Stevenson

    Well it’s got to be Coach Taylor. He stuffs up, he p***es off his wife and his daughter, but when things go bad for his family or his players he’s there with some solid advice. He always does the right thing in the end. With the Coach as my wingman, I know I’d be in good hands

  • He’s very convincing in the role. And inspiring :)


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