I’ve decided that the unholy alliance of Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity should be illegal, because these two make such an attractive pair as to make the rest of us seem so bland that we’re just nonexistent.
I mean, come on, Hollywood. Teenagers don’t look like Taylor Kitsch and Minka Kelly. It’s ridiculous. But whatever, I’ll suspend my disbelief just so I can stare in awe at their beauty and superb acting abilities. Of course, they’re just two of many on this show who can act larger-than-lifeiness into small-town Dillon, Texas’ characters. Honestly, I think the weakest actress is Aimee Teegarden, and even she plays subdued teenage angst very well.
This season was a vast improvement on the last one, which got way too soapy. I think the network realized the show’s superiority and decided to give it a break from the 22-episode format that plagues most other primetime dramas. Friday Night Lights, probably by virtue of its being awesome, got away with something that most shows rarely get away with on, say, NBC: a beautiful, sweeping, careful 13-episode season. That’s the way TV should be done.
I like that we checked in with Smash Williams and Jason Street at the start of the season, but I like even more that they sort of faded into the background, and eventually altogether into their own lives. That’s what happens, especially with susperstars in a small town. They get out, and they stay out, and it makes for poetic, realistic television. Also, I was getting kind of sick of those two. (Whereas I cannot get enough of Riggins and Matt Saracen…) Then again, I’m also getting sick of Buddy Garrity, played by the indeterminately annoying (but great) Brad Leland, and I’m sure as hell that he’s not going anywhere.
This season was a perfect segue between the blue era and, even though I haven’t seen it I totally know it’s going to happen because spoilers exist, the red era. JD McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter) is one of many new characters I’m hoping to get to know next season, and I have a feeling this show did the whole transitioning-a-new-cast thing really well (hint, Glee!). Back to the present, though: In this season, we saw Saracen (the brilliant Zach Gilford) score touchdowns instead of throw them, a plus; we also saw him fold at the last minute and give up his art-school dreams to stay home with his infuriating grandmother, a huge negative. We saw Tami Taylor (the effervescent Connie Britton) rise to school principal and her husband’s boss. We saw Tyra Collette (I enjoy Adrianne Palicki’s accent the most) make plenty of huge mistakes, and then not make any huge mistakes. We saw Coach Taylor deal with an over-agressive father but saw the hints of his own fading glory as the leader of the football pack. Papa Garrity wasted all of Lyla’s college money away. In short, a lot of shit happened to these Dillon folks, and when it’s condensed like I just condensed it, it probably seems like it was still soapy and dramatic as ever, but it really wasn’t. The show manages to stay minimalist and raw, even with all of these crazy things happening to its characters. Friday Night Lights is an exercise in subtle, graceful television.
I only wish I felt the same way about the season finale. I mean, I know they have to wrap things up while simultaneously providing some sort of huge cliffhanger, but it seemed a little overblown, what with the six-months-later and the wedding, and Tyra and Landry being all in love, and Matt saying no to college. It felt like TV, which is rare for FNL, since it often feels like a documentary about really nice people. I was sort of disappointed in the show for ending it on such a dramatic-twisty note, but I have no doubt it will come back strong, whenever I get around to watching that fourth and penultimate season. Y’all.