TV Club

Week 6: A Defense of the Most Overbearing Dad Ever

Yes, the kids took over the show this week, and what did we get? Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.

Sex. I also loved the Julie and Matt kiss and actually the whole thing: the unceremonious, post-hotdogs roll by the campfire and the blissful aftermath. For one thing, Matt deserves a weekend of sweetness. For another, I’m happy to see teenage sex as neither airbrushed and eroticized nor an emotional crack-up. Sometimes, 16- and 17- year-olds just lovingly sleep together. Maybe Tami didn’t wake up and freak out because she doesn’t have to. Though she did pick up on the shy, pleased Sunday-morning glances that Julie and Matt exchanged in church, which signaled to me what you suggested, too: Dream weekends don’t last.

Drugs. Can I stick up for J.D.’s dad for a minute without sending myself to Dillon detention? He is indeed the smarmy, overbearing stage dad, so caricatured I can barely watch him. But if Tim Riggins wanted to take my ninth-grader out to get drunk and who knows what else, I might cart him home, too. It’s all well and good for Coach Taylor to encourage Riggins to mentor J.D. To loosen this kid up, Eric is willing to keep quiet about J.D.’s naked mile sprint and whatever hijinks Riggins comes up with, it seems. I’m not sure I can blame Annoying Applebee’s McCoy for resisting. If acceptance on the football team means getting shitfaced at age 14, then maybe that’s a reason unto itself that a freshman shouldn’t be quarterback. Best part of the J.D. party scene, however: Lyla as Tim’s long-suffering sidekick, shouldering J.D.’s weight so she can help drag him out of harm’s way.

Rock ’n’ roll: Landry and his band light up the garage. Or rather, they fail to light it up, in spite of their acned-splendor, until Devin, the cute freshman, comes along. She’s got the guitar skills, the green cardigan, the sneakers, and the pink lip gloss. And she’s got Landry’s number. She tells him all his songs are about the same thing, the same girl. It’s time to get over that Tyra, for the sake of the music. Hanna, what do you make of it that in this teen-driven episode, the character keenly passing judgment is the ninth-grade upstart?

Jesse Plemons as Landry Clarke and Stephanie Hunt as Devin Corrigan
Jesse Plemons as Landry Clarke and Stephanie Hunt as Devin Corrigan

You asked, meanwhile, about Cash and his baby mama and their sad toddler. Yep, that’s his kid (don’t you think?), and Tyra is demonstrating a willful detachment from reality by believing otherwise. I’m sorry Meghan is out this week (don’t worry, readers; she’ll be back next week), because you are both more interested in Cash than I am. I just can’t get past how much he looks like Jon Voigt in Midnight Cowboy. And besides, don’t we know how this story comes out? Won’t Tyra fall out of this relationship bruised, callused, and less likely to make it to college? The only glimmer of brain activity I saw in this plotline was the moment in which Julie made fun of her, and Tyra remembered that was the kind of joke that Landry used to make. Ditch the lying cowboy already.

The contrast to Cash comes when Jason sings to his baby, in that scene you’ve already mentioned. I loved the cuts to Herc and Billy and Tim while Jason cooed. It reminded me of a point Meghan made a few weeks ago about FNL’s distinctive brand of male sentimentality. There’s Jason, putting himself on the line for his kid even as that child moves farther from him, mile after mile. Jason is the show’s tragedy. Can he also somehow pull off its redemption? Or would that be unworthy of this show?