TV Club

Week 8: FNL Doesn’t Have the Stomach for Real Grit

Since we’re choosing alter egos this week, I choose Devin, even though she’s a lesbian and I’m not. (Sorry David.) Sometimes I like to imagine that I grew up in a place like Dillon instead of Queens, because in Dillon low-affect ironic types like me and Devin get to stand out as super cool misfits in a garage band instead of being just like everyone else. And just for the record, David, you’re no Landry. I bet you could have kicked that 36-yard field goal in a muddy field when you were in high school.

Emily, I’m torn on the Tim/Becky question. I like to imagine them as the couple from Up, two dreamers trapped in a small town who can spin great adventures out of their limited life. Lyla Garrity won’t stay in Dillon for him, so he’s stuck with Becky, whose great gift is to use her grating innocence to make anything seem possible. “You can grow up to be anyone you want to be, Tim Riggins,” she tells him, before he heads out to an interview in a cheap suit, his hair looking especially greasy. She does live in a world of sunsets and bunnies (when she’s not folding the laundry or hollering at her mom), but sunsets and bunnies are what you need to survive in Dillon. If he can’t buy into her Mary Poppins view of the circumstances, then what is he in Dillon? At best, the Matthew McConaughey character in Dazed and Confused: “That’s what I like about these high school girls. I get older. They stay the same age.” (As for my favorite platonic friendship: Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson on Parks and Rec.)

Maybe we can see Becky as the show making fun of its own habit of excessive sentimentality, just like that toilet bowl David mentioned. Since its first episode, with Jason Street’s injury and the genuine racial tension between Riggins and Smash, the show hasn’t really let itself go too dark. This is why Vince’s mom is an addict with a halo around her, and Vince and Jess are really nice to small children. Consider the scene with Vince’s mom and Jess at the dinner table in this episode. They did a good job portraying Vince’s mom as a sometimes addict whose conversation meandered at the dinner table as she went on about her various jobs and how they “just didn’t pan out.” But that discomfort lasted about two seconds before she started glowing about how when Jess was a little girl, she had a light “shining through her.” The show doesn’t have The Wire’s stomach for real grit. That’s just not what it does well. (An aside— Toy Story 3 does a much better job portraying a teenage boy who is really nice to little kids.) So no doubt, Vince will get drawn in by the Devil With Cornrows, but in the end, he’ll pull himself out, ABC Afterschool Special style.

As for the college trip, they really failed us on that one. The dialogue alone! “This is a great opportunity for your future” and “I know I am letting you down.” Do any mother and daughter actually talk like that? On the other hand, I loved Landry’s graph of love juice: “No one gets busy on a Monday” and “I like Wednesdays,” but Thursday is “more of a sexual night.”

David, since you’re rounding it off this week, what’s your postgame analysis of Landry’s date? Was that cheek kiss a total downer? Any hope there?

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