Monday, 18 July 2011

I'll Miss You, 'Friday Night Lights'

After watching the series finale of my favorite show on TV Friday Night Lights (in a blubbery, teary mess, I may add), I feel satisfied with the way things ended. The series finale that I've been dreading for over a year managed to bring the kind of dramatic closure that seemed nearly impossible to me. [SPOILERS!!] There's a strong sense that several of these characters are going to have a rough road ahead (Vince's relationship with his father is still fractured; Matt and Julie are too young to get married; Luke joined up during wartime; as far as we know, Tim still doesn't have many marketable skills), but we also believe that because these lives were touched by Eric and Tami, these people were given the tools they need to persevere. It was a hopeful ending to a show that never got cynical. Perfect.

The wonderful thing about this show from season one was its ability to depict real relationships and real marriages, while following a satisfying dramatic arch. Eric is the best kind of dramatic hero: an honorable, good man; a "molder of men" and mentor; an imperfect human being, willing to admit his faults to do what's right; an old-fashioned leader in the tradition of Will Kane, Andy Taylor, and Charles Ingalls (yeah, I went there). There aren't many heroes like this on TV, and there aren't many actors that can pull it off with the gravitas of Kyle Chandler.

I'm going to miss this show like mad. I can't complain about its brilliant five-year run, though. Its only real misstep in five seasons was the much panned Landry-Tyra "murder subplot", but every show's allowed to lose itself for a minute as long as it finds its center again. I can't praise this show enough, but Ken Tucker reads it much more eloquently:

"Right from the start, we had two plots that formed the bivalve heart of Friday Night Lights: marriage (family) and football (friendship, spirit). Many of us have said that the reason FNL was never a ratings hit was because it was too real, not escapist enough, for a viewer who just wanted to sit back and be amused. But I think the real reason was because the two elements that made this a great, unique series had not been yoked together in this way before on TV. Purist sports fans found the depictions of the games too brief and technically not very believable. Family-TV seekers were put off by the moral complexity of the show. And, overriding all of this: FNL never had the aura of being cool or gritty or groundbreaking; it didn’t court a cult following like Lost or Buffy did; it didn’t often try to test the limits of TV standards and storytelling the way The Shield or name-your-favorite-HBO-show did. Season after season, it fell between the genre cracks, admired only by those of us who loved – loved – its lack of irony and sarcasm and hip knowingness."

A great show. Nominations are now being considered for my favorite TV drama currently running.