Friday Night Lights is Back!

It’s true (at least for those of us who have DirecTV!). Television’s most undervalued show began its third season last night on the 101 channel on DirecTV. Fear not, it will be on NBC as well… just not until sometime in early 2009. I admit it: I pretty much bought DirecTV so I could watch the first run of FNL’s new season. That’s how much I like this show.

The season premiere last night picked up about 9 months after season 2 abruptly ended (curse you, WGA strike!), with the Dillon Panthers beginning a new season of football and Tami Taylor (the wonderful Connie Britton) assuming the role of principal of Dillon High. What a smart move on the part of the writers! Put Tami even more front and center. She is the best asset of a uniformly outstanding cast.

I won’t go into any other plot details (for those who want to wait and experience it fresh on NBC in a few months), but I will say that it looks to be more of a “back to basics” season, which is welcome after last season’s slightly off-kilter melodrama (murder! Cover-up!). After all, this show—unlike most other hour-long dramas on TV—is not about plot twists and cliffhangers. Its greatness comes from how mundane it is—how it captures subtle beauty in the everyday occurrences of this sleepy little Texas town.

And whereas TV’s other great drama (Mad Men) can sometimes feel too nihilistic for its own good, FNL is guardedly optimistic about life. It finds the goodness in its characters and roots for them to fight off their personal demons. Other shows seem to take devious pleasure in documenting their characters’ downfalls; FNL acknowledges that yes, sometimes we are our own worst enemies, but the real drama in life is not when we fall—but when we gradually get up again, with the help of our loved ones and community.

And ultimately, Friday Night Lights is about community. The show is remarkably in tune with the mythos of American small town life (in a respectful, rather than condescending, manner). Every time I watch it I feel like I’m back in Oklahoma, fifteen years ago, when I was a kid at the local high school’s Friday night football games. It reminds me of the sorts of towns I grew up in, which maybe explains why I’m such a huge fan.

But I also think anyone can relate to the show. The family dynamics of the Taylor clan are enough to hook anyone with a soul. If you haven’t already, please watch Season 1 on DVD. You’ll see what I–and pretty much every other American critic–is going on and on about.

9 responses to “Friday Night Lights is Back!

  1. I loved Season 1, but was a little disappointed in Season 2, as per the out of place melodrama you mentioned, and haven’t actually finished it yet. Looking forward to seeing what Season 3 has in store. Go Panthers!

  2. Maybe I need Direct TV too – I’m jealous!

  3. “Every time I watch it I feel like I’m back in Oklahoma, fifteen years ago, when I was a kid at the local high school’s Friday night football games. It reminds me of the sorts of towns I grew up in”

    This is what I’ve always expected FNL was like.

    And 100% the reason I’ll never watch it.

  4. I’m jealous too!

    I grew up in Orange County and wish so very much that I hadn’t. FNL licks my wounds.

    And Connie Britton is fantastic!

  5. I love your review of this. Very good points. I hated the WGA strike, too, but in FNL’s case maybe it was a good thing? Thw shoe got off track last season and now we get to skip ahead and start fresh…I mean, they tried to make it seem like most of what happened last season didn’t ever happen at all. I think the new season feels much more like FNL at its best rather than what it had started to become, so huzzah for that. More of my thoughts are on my blog if you wanna read ’em:

  6. Regrettably, I don’t have DirecTV, let alone cable. So i was afraid i would miss out on my fav. show (by far!). Thankfully, however, there are a few sites out there where it can be streamed:

    Hopefully its legal.

    The first episode was indeed back to season one. And once again the production, cinematography, and acting were subtly amazing. Thats one thing i love about FNL: its subtle.

  7. The show is totally under-appreciated and it’s amazing!!! I don’t have Direct TV so knowing that it’s on and not being able to watch it really sucks right now.

  8. i’ve always watched FNL and still do. what sucks is i dont have directtv thats why i goto to watch all of them and new episodes for season 3

  9. Pingback: Friday Night Lights Season Four Kicks Off « The Search

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