REVIEW: Friday Night Lights

When I think of great television three words come to mind: Friday. Night. Lights.

For those of you unfortunate enough to have never experienced this little gem of a television show, I’ll give some background: Friday Night Lights is set in the fictional Texan town of Dillon, a football-loving community where its inhabitants pack the stadium of the Dillon Panthers each and every Friday night. Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is brought to Dillon to be the new head coach of the Panthers, uprooting his wife, Tami (Connie Britton), and daughter, Julie (Aimee Teegarden). Coach Taylor leads the Panthers to a state championship his first year, then things go downhill from there. Injuries happen on and off the field. Simply put, FNL is not just a “sports show.” Football definitely takes precedent, but it creates lessons to be learned even after the stadium lights dim. FNL is simplistic, gritty and real. A perfect combination.

I can only think of a few reasons why FNL isn’t a television phenomenon like Glee or Gossip Girl. Many television shows claim to mimic lives teenagers lead today and a vast majority of them absolutely do not. The football team at my high school never busted out Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” on the field mid-play. But we did go 13-0 and won state my junior year despite having low pre-season rankings. Stars emerged from that team and went on to become staples in many college teams. FNL gets it right. High school is not glamorous in any way.

Second, the majority of the FNL cast is average looking at best. It’s sad but inevitable that a teenage girl would rather gawk at a Chace Crawford look-a-like than a Zach Gilford any day. But when was the last time Chace pulled off an Emmy-worthy performance like Zach does every episode? I love me some eye-candy, but FNL has a way of keeping me interested without six-packs and floppy hair.

Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton were among this year’s Emmy nominees for Best Performance in a Drama. To say that the nominations are well-deserved and a long-time coming is an understatement. The acting on FNL has always been consistently awesome. FNL has been overlooked for Emmy noms since the show’s inception, which is a shame. The show has handled issues such as abortion / teen pregnancy in such powerful ways that are brilliantly acted and not overly-preachy.

The fifth and final season of FNL is being filmed and will begin airing on DirecTV this fall and on NBC in 2011. ABC Family is also planning to start reruns of FNL from the beginning this fall. Former series regulars Scott Porter, Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki and Zach Gilford are already set to make appearances during FNL’s swan song. If you haven’t experienced the most underrated show currently on air,  I highly recommend joining the team. Documentary-like filming and improvisations of the actors only add to the genuineness of this show. Why does this work, you may ask? I will leave you with the mantra of the Dillon Panthers: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.