Friday Night Lights

Blogging has been a little light because I’ve been obsessed with the TV show, Friday Night Lights. I’ve been watching through the first four seasons on Netflix. I am truly in awe of this show. I’ve never actually seen a TV show capture Southern culture with any real authenticity, much less be able to capture its pervasive evangelical religiosity without caricature. The characters are as genuine and interesting as anything on Lost, but you don’t have to worry about time warps and parallel universes driving the plot in later seasons. The second through fourth seasons are particularly realistic, including a fair number of depressing episodes. The courage to present stark tragedy is a risky move in the television industry, which is partly why FNL has received a lot of critical acclaim and awards but only modest ratings.

I’ve finally made it to the infamous abortion episode in the fourth season. Yes, as you could expect, I was a bit pissed. Adoption was never really considered as an option, and the moral pragmatism throughout is profoundly disappointing since genuine moral struggles and resolutions had heretofore driven much of the show’s drama. Matthew Anderson wrote a great blog post highlighting this contradiction in the show’s moral fabric. All the same, this is still an amazing show, well worth owning or streaming through Netflix.



  1. We don’t have this show “down under”, Kevin.
    Sounds intriguing, but those who buy American shows for Australian TV probably consider it too “left field”. Might have to check Netflix [whatever that is :0)]

    American TV is usually trashed by the “culturally superioir” critics down here, but I’m continually impressed by the strength of the scripts, the direction and the acting – of what I get to see anyway.

    Btw, I grew up in and have returned to what is usually considered the Australian equivalent of the “Deep South”, the state of Queensland, which is kind of like Texas, Florida and Alabama rolled into one (it’s about 5 times teh size of Texas to begin with).

    • I think you’ll be impressed by FNL. I don’t know if there’s a Netflix equivalent in Australia, but you can at least buy the first season of FNL for fairly cheap ($13 on Amazon right now). The first season was the best season and the longest with 22 episodes at 45-minutes each.

      As for the quality of television, I’ve been really impressed for the last several years. The movie industry is horrible. If you want brilliant writing and acting, you have to watch TV series: Band of Brothers, Lost, Battlestar Gallactica, Mad Men, Fringe, Terriers, to name some notable ones.

      I just watched the recent summer hit, Sherlock Holmes, and it epitomized everything I hate about Hollywood in the last decade: incredible production value substituting for a story. It was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I actually couldn’t even finish watching. I stopped it about 20 minutes before it was over.

      Every country needs a “Deep South,” so I’m glad that Australia has one. 🙂

  2. Kevin,

    I wholeheartedly agree! The film industry has been so awful in recent years, I’ve started seeing a film only when it receives an 75% or above on rotten tomatoes. But the quality of TV shows has been impressive.

    FNL in particular has had my attention since ’06. As a native Texan who played high school football, the authenticity of the show has been one of the best surprises. Especially when seen in light of wannabe attempts like “Varsity Blues.”

    • Yeah, ‘Varsity Blues’ was rather silly. I use rotten tomatoes too, except that I still don’t understand all the praise for Pixar/DreamWorks movies. The first Toy Story was alright (nothing great), but everything since then has been massively over-rated, e.g., those terrible Shrek movies that the critics love. I really don’t get it.

  3. Band of Brothers was just about the best TV I have seen.
    I wasn’t as impressed with Pacific, which was filmed down here, btw.
    Couldn’t agree more about Sherlock Holmes, but my teenage boys loved it, and I guess that’s what it’s all about with Hollywood.

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