TV Club

Week 3: Riggins Discovers His Inner Yenta

Buddy, man of conscience. Tim Riggins, voice of maturity and reason. This episode had the thrill of inversion for me. The jesters took over from the king and queen, Tami and Eric, whose troubles at work engulfed their marriage. I agree with your defense of Tim, Meghan. (Hanna, explain yourself!) The show started with Riggins handing out Eric’s cash as the players pushed that doomed car through the neighborhood for their sad little fundraiser. Tim also helped Eric start to work through his grudge against Luke, who seems to be the whipping boy for his own frustration, for no good reason. And he also fended off Becky’s flirtations, distancing himself as the bemused older guy. He helped her pick the pink dress without letting her try it on for him; he suggested Luke as a candidate for the boyfriend role she’s looking to fill.

Who’d have thought Tim had an inner yenta? I love this development for two reasons: The older-brother caretaker is the kind of slightly unexpected yet real-seeming dynamic that the show does well. And I don’t have to worry that Tim will be forever harking back to his Dillon High days. To the contrary: He’s rejected every overture this season to wallow in his Panther glory. He may be back in Dillon, but he’s also moving on.

Eric, on the other hand, has real problems that Buddy’s defection to his side won’t fix. That was one cold moment when the East Dillon principal blurted out: “You weren’t supposed to take this job. You’re the only one that didn’t get the joke.” Yikes.

How much of Eric’s success as coach at West Dillon was based on the support of the boosters, on not having to sweat the money stuff because they did it for him? That was the uncomfortable, lurking question when he wrote that $3,000 personal check to Under Armour for the new uniforms. (Thank you, writers, for tying up the loose end of why Eric burned the old uniforms: They were ancient.) This was such a meaty plot twist. It made me think about all the teachers who buy classroom supplies for their students and all the nonprofit employees who give back to their organizations. And you’re right, Meghan, the fight Eric and Tami had over that check had teeth. Yet Eric’s apology and Tami’s insta-switch to supportive wife (“Honey, don’t ever do that again. And I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time”) was like a marriage tutorial. If I were a couples therapist, I’d play this scene for my clients.

Meghan, I take your point about the dominance of the male community thus far. Last season, we talked about Tami’s lack of female friends, which is entirely out of keeping with her character. She seems even more isolated now. Hanna, I’m curious what you made of Julie’s disaffection with church—did the writers do justice to adolescent religious rebellion? Was Tami’s closing “my little girl” moment with her 17-year-old daughter too sentimental? (I sniffled.) I think if I start watching this show through the gender lens, I’ll wreck it for myself. But I’d like to boo off-stage the Artist as Dick otherwise known as Richard Sherman. Yes, I suppose he is speaking truth about the selfishness it takes to make art. But who wants to watch him booze and snore his way there? The character is exaggerated in a way that the show doesn’t usually resort to.

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