TV Club

Week 10: Don’t Forget the Great Sex Talk From Season 1

This was my favorite episode of the season. I kept admiring the craft: the short, tight scenes between different pairs of characters and the deft segues you mentioned, Hanna. (One more: the opening cut from Tyra in her car to the football players in theirs.) You can feel the care the writers are taking, and it’s especially appreciated because they have only a few more hours to wind up the season.

I think Tami’s true feelings about Julie are two contradictory things at once: She wanted her daughter to wait, and she’s shakily relieved that Julie had sex in a way that won’t damage her. Along with all the reasons you’ve both given for mounting this scene on a pedestal for its honesty and feeling, we get to see Tami’s evolution about this subject, and for all the right reasons.

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In the first season, Tami was all fiery mama bear after she spotted Matt buying condoms in the supermarket. (Watch it here at the nine-minute mark.) She confronted Julie, who tried to shrug off sex as “just putting one body part into another body part.” Tami told her that thinking like that was evidence that Julie wasn’t ready. She said that at 15, Julie wasn’t allowed to have sex. And she warned her daughter that if she went ahead anyway, she could be hurt, and she could become hard. Now it’s two years later. Julie is 17. She’s not an adult, but she’s a lot closer. We can see from their scenes together that she and Matt do love each other. She’s not fooling herself. And she’s not cavalier and pretend-sophisticated with her mom: She’s shy and embarrassed but also sober. They talk about condoms—hallelujah, the parent-child birth-control conversation that went inexplicably missing in Juno.

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Meghan, I’ve been mulling your great question last week, about whether we’d like FNL if we were Tyra and Julie and Lyla’s age, by trying to commune with my 17-year-old self. Who really knows, of course, but my best guess is that I would have cherished Julie and Matt’s relationship (along with, yes, all things Tim Riggins). I’ve been wondering, though, how I would have felt about Tami. She is wise, strong, sexual—a model of a mom, in a lot of ways. Even her lapses and freakouts mostly serve to make her more human.

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As a fellow mom, I can’t get enough of Tami. But as a teenage daughter? I dunno. I might have found Tami too good to take. If that’s what your mom was really like, what would you find to despise in her, and don’t teenage girls need to do that to their moms in some contained but significant way? When Julie tries to rebel or complain, a la her tattoo a few weeks ago, the scenes often don’t really come off. But in this episode, my Tami doubts melted away because she put every ounce of her goodness and mettle to such excellent use.

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Meanwhile, Katie McCoy showed some mettle, too. For the first time, she’s standing up to her husband for turning J.D. into a daddy’s boy. Meghan, you talked about Lyla and Julie manning up by finding a way to do what they want and go their own way. “Man up, Matt” is what Julie said when her guy suggested meeting her at the movies instead of coming to pick her up and face her dad. Here I think we’re seeing Katie man up—a welcome break in the McCoy facade.

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What about Tim Riggins, though? He’s in guy’s guy mode when he tells J.D. to man up, but his own manliness is increasingly bathed in soft light and dulcet tones. That parting shot of Tim and Lyla on the couch, after Tim quietly tells Buddy to please leave (note the “please”) is a teenage fantasy that’s both compelling and self-serious. The girl with the fallen father turns to the boyfriend whom she has reformed, and lo, he comes through for her. The children throw over the fathers and shack up, and they get to do it more in sorrow than in anger. Even Eric has lost it. What does this mean for how the season wraps up, I wonder?

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