TV Club

Week 6: A Friday Night Lights Playlist

Landry is my favorite sidekick, since you asked, Hanna. I know he’s become a full-fledged character in his own right, but this week he messed up his role as Matt’s best friend in the sweetest way, when Tami interrogated him about Matt and Julie’s whereabouts and he told her they were planning to hear the band Heartless Bastards perform in Austin. Which is pretty much the perfect name for the band that you go to see when you break your mother’s heart. And then your own. The joke goes on: The real Heartless Bastards are scheduled to perform next week and the week after in Austin. (I swear.) And the YouTube clip on their Web site is for a song called “Out at Sea.”

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Speaking of music, thanks to commenters leahelaine, tracy765, Dolphin, Lauren Whitehead, Karie Kirkpatrick, and bratcat for sending in their FNL playlists. Here’s the compilation of their favorites that have played on the show over its three and a half seasons. My iPod is happy already, and I’ve listened to only about half of them so far:

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Helen Stellar: “Flutterby”  
Drive-by Truckers: “Goodbye”  
Spoon: “I Turn My Camera On”  
Whiskeytown: “Everything I Do”  
Richard Buckner: “Figure”  
Chris Brokaw: “I Remember”  
Tony Lucca: “Devil Town
Ryan Adams: “Political Scientist
22-20: “Devil in Me
James McMurtry: “Lost in the Backyard
Eugene Edwards: “Telling That Lie Again”  
Big Star: “September Gurls”  
Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra: “Corner”  
The Cinematic Orchestra: “To Build A Home”  
Blue Merle: “If I Could”  
Sea Wolf: “I Made a Resolution”  
Wilco: “Sky Blue Sky”  
Devendra Banhart: “Now That I know
The Books (featuring Jose Gonzalez): “Cello Song
Santa Fe ”Sideways Walking
Jakob Dylan: “Something Good This Way Comes
Death Cab for Cutie: “Bixby Canyon Bridge
Jose Gonzalez: “Teardrop
DMX: “Lord Give Me A Sign” (In honor of Smash!)
And of course we can’t forget Heartless Bastards: “All This Time

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One more reader contribution: Writer and Slate friend Avi Zenilman has the most convincing theory I’ve heard about the show’s frustrating lack of Latino characters. Avi compares Peter Berg’s blind spot to David Simons’ similar cop-out in The Wire:

FNL and The Wire are rooted in the early ‘90s long-form reporting
and obsessions of East Coast, urban reporters from Baltimore and
Philadelphia (David Simon and Buzz Bissinger). The stories are lifted
from the work and experiences then and there—Odessa (Dillon!), Texas, was
actually one of the last Texas schools to integrate, in 1982, which is
why East Dillon winning in 1983 is actually kind of a nice in-joke, I
think. The two-toned view of race, which is still striking and biting,
is fundamental. … They are writing 20-year old stories grafted onto today.

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I guess that will have to do. At least until next season.

I felt for both Julie and Tim in this episode, but for different reasons. I don’t think Julie meant for Matt to actually leave when she told him she felt weighed down by being the reason he stayed in Dillon. She wanted to be free of responsibility for Matt; but she also wanted him there, always. It’s ambivalent and maybe unfair, and it’s also teenagers in love. I really like your reading of the Dylan song, Hanna, and the idea that Matt had to feel a prick of anger to get himself out onto that ribbon of endless highway.

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Do we ever feel hope in our hearts for the person who chooses to stay behind? Maybe not. The value of rootedness, of knowing the generations of your small town, almost always gives way in fiction and art to the glory of adventure and exploration and the open road. If there’s anything more American than small-town Texas, it’s the impulse to leave that world behind. Tim’s vision of a great life—Riggins Rigs, Lyla, and more Lyla—could have been filmed in sepia for its deep nostalgia. But did either of you think for one second that Lyla should have stayed? College beckons. When you’re 18, and smart as well as pretty, you probably shouldn’t stay with the boy for whom you’re the whole world.

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