Friday Night Lights' Heartwarming Realism

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You'd think the most original depiction of the modern American family since The Sopranos would reel in countless viewers and a big sack full of Emmys.

Not so for Friday Night Lights.

Despite developing into the most dynamic, heartwearming drama on the small screen and garnering glowing praise from swooning critics and passionate fans alike, this gem still hasn't attracted the ratings or awards it deserves.

However, for what it's worth, Friday Night Lights has won's Buffy Award, the fourth annual, given to the most underrated show out there (past winners are The Wire, Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica).

But don't take their word for it - or ours. Ask anyone who watches Friday Night Lights and you'll see it in their eyes how madly in love they are.

While so many programs mutate into the realm of perky, overstyled, bantering professionals - a shiny, idealized picture that either feels too giddily happy or too heavy, Friday Night Lights shows real Americans living real lives.

Week after week, they endure the indignities of frustrating jobs, grapple with narrow minded co-workers or neighbors, usher up laughter in spite of family arguments, and do the best with what they have.

Three Stars

While the Dillon High School Panthers football team wins or loses, the true heart of the story lingers, like life so often does, somewhere in between.

Whether it's Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki), a teenager battling her own low expectations, even as she sees what that did for her bitter single mother, or Jason Street (Scott Porter), the handicapped star quarterback trying to find a life that makes sense now that his dreams have died, the characters of Friday Night Lights are made to face their weaknesses.

These kids have to dig deep. They may frustrate or anger us, but we always find ourselves cheering them on in the end.

Of course, Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) and Head Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) are absolutely mesmerizing in their embodiment of the eye-rolling annoyances and gentle teasing of the modern marriage.

Those two bring so much warmth, humor and realism to every interaction that you can't pry your eyes away from them.

But what's impossible to express, what can only be experienced by watching a handful of episodes, is that Friday Night Lights has so much pure heart and sweetness, so much love for normal people with big dreams, that it has the power to give you a lump in your throat every single week.

This is not just a cynical invention, or a hopelessly slick, expertly marketed and fleshed-out formula. There are plenty of well-made shows on TV today; this is that rare show that just feels right.

When you watch it, you get a sense that everyone involved in its production lives through this story, believe in it, care about it.

They respect these characters, and are committed to bringing something honest and beautiful to your TV screen. Friday Night Lights has tons of soul, and it deserves to be around for a long, long time.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Friday Night Lights Quotes

Answer me this, Timmy. What happened to Texas forever, huh? What happened to livin' large, what happened to that eternal bond that you used to love to throw around when I was still healthy and headed towards the NFL, huh? I NEED you here, Tim! I need you.

Jason Street

You are a teacher first, and you are a molder of men.


Friday Night Lights Music

  Song Artist
Muzzle of bees Muzzle of Bees Wilco iTunes
Song Evergreen The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Song Bang a Gong (Get it On) T. Rex