26 August 2007 | jcphoenix
Incredible, one of the best shows on TV today...(S1 Review)
What a fantastic show. Yes, football is a huge aspect of this show, but in the way that it's a backdrop rather than the focus for the most part. I like to think of Friday Night Lights as similar to The O.C. and at the same time, completely anti-O.C. The thing about this show is, it deals with some issues that you see all the time on The O.C. - alcoholism, drugs, cheating, high school stuff...and yet, it comes off infinitely ahead of The O.C.
It's in the treatment, the way they execute the story lines where the difference is, and that difference is MASSIVE. It's the difference between a guilty-pleasure borderline soap and a sophisticated and earnestly dramatic piece of film-making. This show takes those elements that could be turned into melodramatic/stereotypical clichés, that could be simplified into the escapist world of The O.C., and it manages to wring out every inch of raw emotion and drama out of them. It doesn't put its moments to waste. I really don't think I ever saw a moment of honest, real emotion in The O.C.. Friday Night Lights easily has three powerful and honest moments an episode, if not more.
Besides the stuff that is similar to The O.C., the series also tackles more issues like racism, mental disorders, rape, and parent/child relationships.
In fact, the two episodes that deal with racism are a great example of how FNL is so great. It showcases a lot of viewpoints from different people inside the show, and while it doesn't solve things completely (just like real life), it certainly shows more insight into the issues than most shows or movies I can think of. If Crash won an Oscar for its simplified and stereotypical view of racists and racism, the complexity in the way FNL deals with the issue should've made it the Best Picture of the century.
That's not to say the stories themselves are perfect. When I step back and look back at the season of FNL, yeah, a lot of the story lines can seem at the end of the day overwrought and almost melodramatic. But that's the nature of the story lines. In the moments themselves, they are almost always written believably with perfect dialogue and acting. There are a few moments in the series where a character's turnaround or change of opinion might happen too drastically, but considering the 100 things they do right in every episode, 1 small problem like that per episode is really not much in the long run. There is always a fine line between melodrama and drama when dealing with shows about high school, and FNL hits the dramatic mark more consistently often than nearly anything else on TV or on the silver screen. The other thing is, like I said, FNL has a lot of raw and powerfully emotional moments in it. It wears its heart on its sleeve and some people may mistake that for melodrama.
These are characters you care for, that are intensely real - yes, so the girls in the show may be hotter than most, the cast is good-looking, etc...but the root of the characters feels like real people. The actors feel naturalistic, and the breadth of the show is stunning. You feel like this town actually exists somewhere. It's not just about the high school kids either. This show is equally about the parents. This is a show about an entire town, a town that is in love with football, that lives for football because, well, quite simply, most of them have nothing to look forward to except for football. It really nails the closeness and intensity of living in a small town, of everyone knowing everyone, etc.
If I had to use one word to describe what I think Friday Night Lights is about, it would be - dreams. This comes to the surface towards the end of the season but its always been there since the beginning. This show is about everyone's dreams, how and what everyone wants out of life, where they wanna go, where they seem themselves in the future. There are people who long for an escape from the town where there's not much of a future (Tyra), there are people with crushed dreams who have to rebuild (Jason and Lyla), there are people who are starting to live their dream (Matt), and there are people who are well on their way to their dream (Smash)...the entire show is about the struggle to follow your dreams and what that is worth. It's one of the best shows on TV and the best show that you're not watching.