The following is a review for Friday Night Lights (2006-2011).
Friday Night Lights tells the story of a small fictional Texas town and their love for football. The show centers around The Dillon Panthers, a local high school football team. In Texas, football is everything and this is no different. We see everything through the eyes of the coaches, the players, and their families.
Friday Night Lights is a family drama, sports thriller and a clear-eyed examination of the nature of the American dream all packed into one. The show focuses on the stress the town puts on it's players and coaches to win and the hope and joy this team can bring to the town.
Similar to The Wire, the town of Dillon is the main character. Some characters stay and some fade away. The only constant is the town and head coach Eric Taylor, played perfectly by Kyle Chandler (in an Emmy winning performance). Taylor is a true leader and mentor and does everything he can to help these kids to not only reach their potential in football but in life as well.
Friday Night Lights drops us into this small town and make us feel what it's like to live there. It's one of the most believable and heartfelt high school dramas in recent memory. We understand these characters and feel their pain. Injuries, love, breakups, and success... we're there for it all. It deals with true human emotion that you don't see much on TV these days.
Still, the show is not without it's problems. The issues mostly deal with the structure of the show above anything else. The first season is 22 episodes. But the 2nd season was cut show at 16 episodes due to the writers strike. So it's a little frustrating that it doesn't have an ending. After this 2nd season, the show was inexplicably canceled by NBC (Really guys?). The show was eventually picked up by DirecTV and seasons 3-5 come in at 13 episodes.
This causes the flow of the show to be interrupted and some story lines to go nowhere. In the later seasons, we see a severe decline in the football scenes because they need to pack all the family drama in the season as well. While still present, it's not nearly as prevalent as season 1. I would have loved to see how the show would have played out if NBC had stuck with it all the way.
While minor, another thing that bothers me is the inconsistencies. It's a high school show, so the characters should only be in school for 4 years. Yet, sometimes, it appears the characters stick around for 5 years or are even dropped a grade without explanation. Yes, we love these characters and we'd hate to see them go, let's be realistic here. Still the show created fan favorite characters in Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), Tm Riggins (Taylor Kitsch), and Jason Street (Scott Porter).
Above all, Friday Night Lights is still a great show. While other TV dramas like Breaking Bad, The Wire, and The Sopranos focus on the dark side of humanity, Friday Night Lights gives us hope, optimism.
While not on the same level as these other shows, it's still belongs among the greats. Friday Night Lights is a great sports drama and one of the best shows of it's kind. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose!
*Standout seasons include Season 1, Season 3, and Season 5*