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Ranking the Shows I Watch – 19: Friday Night Lights

27 Sep

I don’t compliment my brother all that often, but there is absolutely no denying he does a wonderful impression of Coach Eric Taylor giving an inspirational speech to a player, family member, or random Dillon resident.  I wish I could somehow textually demonstrate his not great but still enjoyable fake southern twang and repeat his impressions word for word, but the crux of it is that Coach Taylor will tell this person, who has asked him for advice, or come to him with a problem, something like, “I can’t tell you how …(fill in the blank with whatever the person needs help doing),” implying that he is unqualified to give advice on said topic.  After a breath, though, he comes in with a “but I can tell you this” and precedes to dish out some fairly generic speech which leaves the target invigorated, recharged and/or inspired.  This really encapsulates everything about the show.  It’s essentially a soap, but one that instead of being designed to be trashy and low-brow, is designed to make you feel good and that through everything people are innately good, and that all is right with the world (though they did make just about all the woman extremely attractive – they’re not crazy).  Although it’s by no means a religious show, if you had to convince someone who had been isolated away from humanity of the essential good of humankind, I can think of no better programming to send that message than Friday Night Lights (though you best show them whole seasons – things can get a little morally stickier in the cliffhangers).

What’s possibly more impressive by my standards, is that, while pushing this story that has a man-is-generally-good feel and with ridiculous inspirational dialogue happening in nearly episode that people don’t say in real life, or certainly not that often (to be fair, sports is one of the places where it happens, but at least half of the inspirational dialogue on the show has nothing to do with football), it seems neither righteous nor cloying.  Righteousness probably drives me crazy as much if not more than almost any other quality, and my nose for it usually picks it up if I think there are even the slightest traces left at the scene.  Yet, I don’t really feel it here.  A lot of things about the show aren’t perfect – the plots certainly aren’t the most original or interesting and I’m probably a little biased because subjectively it doesn’t have the feel I prefer in a show.  I can’t think of another show that pulls off what it does well though, and it’s watching for that alone if for nothing else.

Why It’s This High:  Kyle Chandler rules as does Connie Britton, and the heart the series shows should feel cheesy but always feel authentic

Why It’s Not Higher:  The show has great heart, but the plots can be incredibly simple and the dialogue, although feel good, is unmemorable

Best Episode of the Most Recent Season:  I’m not fully caught up yet so I’m limited, but “Kingdom” – the road trip was fun and heartwarming which is what the show does best, and watching coach get frustrated playing cards with the fellow coaches was fantastic