Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

May 15, 2013

The Yorker (UK) Review: Friday Night Lights

Under normal circumstances, the phrases “high school drama” and “American Football drama” conjure up negative opinions when referring to American television. It’s not that they’re inherently bad concepts; it’s just that they’re the types of show where stereotypically, the creative effort goes into reaching their target audience rather that creating an immersive, well-written show. Thankfully Friday Night Lights, going strong into its fifth and final season, has always bucked the trend.

©NBC; Image credit: NBC

The basic premise of the show is that it follows a group of high school teens and their families who are all connected to the ventures and failures of the local small town Texan high school football team as it carries the hopes and heavy attention of the town. A simple and not unheard of concept, but in practice the show is leagues ahead of the competition due to the ways in which; the show realistically and cinematically represents the atmosphere and intensity of American football games and the dramatic storylines between the characters feels natural and not forced.

Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) has to adjust to her new role as guidance counsellor dealing with rougher kids than she is used to. Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) continues to revitalise his team after their poor season record the previous year with help from Billy Riggins (Derek Phillips) whose brother Tim (Taylor Kitsch) is suffering the consequences of his actions in season 4, much to the disappointment of Becky (Madison Burge). The characters introduced in season 4 are back and just as integral to proceedings as the mainstays; Luke (Matt Lauria), Vince (Michael B. Jordan), and Jess (Jurnee Smollett) team up to try and convince the athletically talented Hastings (Grey Damon) to ditch basketball for the more popular football team. The fact that there are also many recurring characters that we see little of but get glimpses into their truer identities is testament to the way in which the show is written.

So as a drama, Friday Night Lights is top notch. The real cherry on the cake, however, is the football matches themselves. Thanks in part to the nature of American Football as a sport, which encourages isolated moments of constant drama and late brilliance in real life, the show can consistently afford to ramp up the drama on game day. The real beauty of the way the show is shot really comes out in the matches in a way no other sports shows can really compare to, whereas the score of the show consists of dreamy Texan post rock complementing the barren, open feel of the town.

©NBC ; Image credit: NBC

As opposed to other TV shows, where the drama might tire or the rails may come off the plot slightly at times, Friday Night Lights is one of the most consistently entertaining shows out there. If you can’t watch the first four seasons at some point, I would still recommend tuning in to the new season if only so you don’t miss out on one of the best made shows on television.

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