Of all the shows on television, and all the theme songs that introduce all the shows on television, I can’t think of a single one that has an effect on me quite like the one that introduces Friday Night Lights. Each time I hear it, without fail, I get goosebumps. There’s something inexplicably harmonious about the way the light, twangy guitars combine with the slow-motion close-ups and action shots of each of the characters, and it’s beautiful. And that’s just the opening credits that play each time an episode airs. The rest of the show is even more incredible.
I fell in love with this show during its very first, heart-breaking episode, and its second (albiet briefer) season continued this love affair. Granted, things got a bit soapier, but the show still maintains its sweeping, genuine depiction of the good people of Dillon, Texas, and it’s hard to tear yourself away from them. A noticeable strength of the show is its pure devotion to storyline; despite being on a major network like NBC, with all of its rules and stipulations, the show maintains artistic integrity. There are episodes that do not contain major characters, and it’s not noticeable like it is when, say, Tracy Morgan took a medical leave from 30 Rock or Alyson Hannigan had another baby during HIMYM. On Friday Night Lights, the structure is so meticulously planned and so realistic because, as in real life, sometimes life is boring. Sometimes, people aren’t doing anything worth noting. That’s why we have breaks from Matt Saracen and Jason Street and Lyla Garrity. Sometimes, their stories aren’t worth telling, and the attention is focused on someone else. That’s democratic television if I ever saw it.
I want to address the fact that I mentioned the word “soapy.” It’s true. This season contained a weird love triangle/murder plot between the lovable Landry (Jesse Plemons) and the statuesque Tyra (Adrianne Palicki) and a weird-looking dreadlocked girl, a selfish love triangle between Saracen (Zach Gilford) and a hot nurse (Daniella Alonso) and a hot cheerleader, a nearly season-long temper tantrum thrown by Julie (Aimee Teegarden), a new baby, a life-threatening surgery for Jason Street (Scott Porter), more Smash Williams (Gaius Charles) egomania, and more sexual tension between Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and Lyla (Minka Kelly). At times, it was a bit much. I hated seeing these kids make bad decisions, especially after such a momentous first season that seemed to give them more than enough life experiences. But I guess these kids make bad decisions again and again because they are kids. They’re supposed to be in high school, and I forget that because the actors are talented but a bit too old.
That being said, there were some tremendous performances this season, both from the main billed actors and from the awesome guest stars. I particularly enjoyed Buddy Garrity’s (Brad Leland) storyline this season, how he rose from the ashes of his failed marriage to take in an at-risk football talent. I thought the mother-daughter hatred between Tami (Connie Britton) and Julie was almost too realistic; watching them fight was probably just as painful as the scuffle that it was inevitably based on. The babies that sat in for Baby Grace were adorable, so mad props to them when they’re old enough to receive props. But my favorite character, Tim Riggins, was absolutely mesmerizing this season. He makes all these little transformations, and he’s one of those guys who really is better when there’s a girl around. I can’t wait to see what happens to this character. And let’s not forget about the guest stars! Jessalyn Gilsig really does look like Tami’s sister, Matt Czuchry could be a christian preacher, Daniella Alonso has a great accent… and they all proved that they’re more than their claims-to-fame. Dillon has a way of transforming its characters, and therefore its actors, into something greater than its parts. If you haven’t started Friday Night Lights yet, jump on the wagon.