Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike at https://musiccitymike.net
Friday Night Lights
Back in the 1960s when I attended high school in New Jersey, high school football was important, but as I would later realize when I moved to Texas in the 1970s, maybe just not that important. While we went to all the games and rooted for our friends on the field, outside of a pretty lame pep rally at school on Friday afternoon, there wasn’t that much more to it. And if you looked hard the next day, you probably could find the box score in the Sports pages of the local morning paper.
Although I was warned, I still could not believe it until I saw it myself, that in Texas, the local TV stations showed filmed highlights of high school football on game nights. It also seemed that locals talked more about their favorite high school team than they did about the Cowboys or the Oilers. Then there were these large football fields all over town where on Friday nights in the fall and winter you would get stuck in traffic and yes, see those stadium lights!
This Texas phenomenon was dubbed Friday Night Lights and first memorialized in a 1990 non-fiction book that chronicled a small-town team in Odessa, Texas. In 2004, it was adapted for the big screen and was later made into the fictionalized television series that ran five seasons from 2006-2011. After the television version captured my heart on several levels, I went back and watched the movie only to quit after about 15 minutes. It was no match for the television series, and I just could not let it spoil my love for what I had seen on the small screen.
It goes without saying that having a love for football will make Friday Night Lights a more enjoyable experience, but the show does more than just portray Texas high school football. It features one of the best television families of all time with Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton playing parents to both their own child as well as the high schoolers they coach and counsel, respectively.
The show includes just about everything those high school years were about in addition to football. You see all the ups and downs of being a teenager in the 1980s brought on by social pressures and challenging relationships and of course the inevitable interference from sex, drugs, and alcohol. In addition to the coach’s family, there are several other family dynamics in play with storylines to follow.
Then there’s the football! As far as fictionized sports go, the drama of each season as well as of individual games is expertly depicted creating both the excitement of victory and the heartbreak of defeat. The show also works in all the behind-the-scenes stuff very well including the interfering influence of the local community and the pressure felt by the players, some of whom dreamed of playing in college and beyond.
Like any good show, Friday Night Lights is packed with emotion and runs us through cycles of bringing us down with setbacks later lifting our spirits through redemption. It’s a roller coaster ride for sure and features many great young actors who shine throughout the series. The show also deserves acclaim for its filming technique where most scenes were shot in a single take giving it a more natural feel.
Although it never scored a touchdown in the ratings, Friday Night Lights was a critical success, and it eventually received some Emmy nods in its final two seasons. The show is a must if you like football but don’t mind remembering how tough it was to go through school. I’m glad I gave it a try because it was well worth it despite bringing back some old memories I’d rather forget.
PS – There is one quick personal story that is too memorable for me not to share. While in the middle of obsessively streaming this show on-line, I took a respite from the annual East Nashville Tomatofest event on a hot summer’s afternoon to watch an episode in a coffee shop. Can you imagine my surprise when I walked out the door and immediately came upon actress Connie Britton, then star of the Nashville TV series, walking by pushing a baby stroller!