TV Club

Week 8: I Miss Tyra

Friday Night Lights. Click image to expand.

Hello, David, and thanks for the fresh blast of male air. Really, don’t worry about knocking over the tea cups that Hanna and I were daintily sipping from—we welcome you and your testosterone-infused swagger. Actually, I think I’ll channel some of it. If you are going to be Coach and Hanna is going to be Mrs. Coach, then I’ll be Buddy Garrity. I might as well practice, because I made a bet with our friend Matt Labash that if Tim and Becky got together, I would gain 100 pounds and start dressing like a used-car salesman. Now that Becky has smooched her swain, Matt will surely try to collect, however restrained the Riggins response.

I would just like to say that I continue to object to this pairing! Platonic friendships are a wonderful thing for the world (stayed tuned for an upcoming Slate project on them by Juliet Lapidos) and for television. Readers, nominate your favorites: I am going with McNulty and Kima in The Wire, though I recognize it’s a little different since she is a lesbian. I’d much rather watch Tim grow into his older-brother role than give in to Becky’s adoring looks. I’d talked myself into a no-holding rule for them (yes, I know that’s a tortured football metaphor—just go with it.), especially since he slept with her mom and lives in her backyard. Now it looks like we’re in for endless Becky Hearts Tim. Blech.

My own husband points out in response to your observation about Landry’s unrealistic entertainment of Jess’ brothers that Becky and Jess are also veering into un-credible maturity territory. Jess is forever saintly as her brothers’ minder. I am 20 years older and I am nowhere near as patient when my boys romp around the supermarket. Becky, for her part, was way too wisely soulful about Tim’s real estate yearnings. Did anyone else roll their eyes at the way the scene on The Land was melodramatically lit? I guess I am back to blech.

I disagree that there was no main lesson in this week’s episode. (We prefer in this sewing circle to think of them as subtly woven rather than sledgehammered.) This week’s theme is opportunity. Julie has it. She is off to the leafy autumn vistas of Boston College and East Coast elitism. There she cleans up beautifully, both during her interview—nice touch about Harper Lee’s friendship with Truman Capote—and in her mother-daughter scenes with Tami, which in the end are more memorable for the double flowing blond tresses than for the ginned-up conflict. Tim, of course, lacks opportunity. As you pointed out last week, Hanna, he is our boy without a future. This week, he fails to score a job selling appliances, which is why he must resort to helping Billy in the chop shop, never mind that he has just made a smart speech about why the risk they’re taking isn’t worth it. This is the thing about Tim: He caves. I wish he’d stop.

Vince is teetering between making the most of the opportunity to go straight that Eric has offered and heading back toward the underworld embodied by his appealingly sinister friend who has a name I’m sure but who I think of as the Devil Wears Cornrows. Vince’s doubts come when he sees Jess with Landry—Landry who so represents nerdy achievement that Jess worries he’ll wear a T-shirt of the periodic table to their date.

The opportunity breakdown is a little too neat for me: middle-class Julie and Landry with their two-parent families on the upside, poorer Tim and Vince with their alcohol- and crack-ridden childhoods on the downside. Tyra used to mix this up for us, and Matt too. Without them, the characters seem stuck in predictable boxes. Maybe Jess will bust out, but we don’t know enough about her yet, and she didn’t even get to answer a question on the Academic Smackdown, did she?

Another, larger question: David, you said that you love FNL best when it makes you cry. Is that because in the end we all crave a good tear-jerker? Or is the show operating on a grander, less sentimental plane? I’m never quite sure myself as I wipe my eyes on cue each week. And now as promised I must end on a note of Buddy tribute: Finally, Spanish is heard on Friday Night Lights! This is thanks to Buddy’s pitch to the El Amigo guys who are sponsoring a more respectful version of the game night broadcast. I hope they come back next week in spite of all the mud and toilet bowl references. This could not have been the image they hoped to leave their potential restaurant patrons with.

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.