Saturday, 30 April 2011

Friday Night Every Night

For the past two months I’ve been obsessed with Friday Night Lights. My husband first heard about the TV series while reading rave reviews on an ESPN blogger’s site, and I enjoyed watching the first season when it first aired in 2006. 

We decided to start watching Friday Night Lights again from the beginning; and by the end of the first season,  I was begging my husband for permission (something I only do when we watch really good shows) to watch multiple episodes every night. We averaged about two episodes a night though if it were up to me we would have finished the whole five seasons in one week.

I am not particularly athletic and not a huge football fan, so what did I LOVE about the TV series?

Friday Night Lights on TV

The TV series is set in the small fictional town of Dillon, Texas where everyone lives for Friday Night high school football. The character development is great and the actors form a fantastic ensemble cast. With each episode you feel as if you are watching the kids grow up, with the rare exception of one or two kids who will remind you of someone you knew in high school.

Most of the action takes place at Dillon high where football coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tami Taylor (a guidance counselor and later principal) show a genuine interest in the kids and help them overcome personal obstacles in order to get into college. 

The football is intense and it was pretty cool when I Googled the show (which most of us do when we really like something) and found out that it is based on a true story.

The last two seasons in the series really stood out because they showed a different side of Dillon and offered a glimpse into the poverty, crime and racism that is more prominent in the book and film. 

I can’t say that I liked the film “more”, but there were certain things I really liked about it that were different from the TV series. It was grittier and tackled the big issues right from the start: like racism and the pressure the town puts on the kids and coaches to win. It is a quicker pace because of the shorter format but at the same time it didn’t really go as deep into the lives of all of the students and their families, mainly focusing on the football players. Billy Bob Thornton is very good as the coach in the film and all of the other actors are great too.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream by H.G. Bissinger

The book is a fascinating read, based on a true story. I wish I’d read it before I watched the TV series and movie. The book offers more than the film and TV series because it shares more of the author’s own observations, research and interviews conducted while living in Odessa, a small Texas town, obsessed with high school football. The book also delves into the history of Odessa and the Texas oil industry; the contrast between its privileged residents and the less fortunate ones; school rivalries; and problems including  racism, alcoholism, crime and problems with the education system. 

I liked the book the most because it put everything into context.  Friday Night Lights, the TV series is seriously one of the best I’ve seen on TV. It is right up there with The Wire and The Shield

The film is great too.  It is grittier than The Blind Side but similar in that it is a really good sports movie.  (My husband says that Raging Bull would be a better comparison.)

My husband and I have added Texas to our list of places we’d like to visit. Because of our FNL obsession, we’d love to go and check out a big high school football game in Texas. 

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