TV Club

Week 11: Why Tami Got Into Trouble

Connie Britton as Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights

I’m with Emily on Luke’s mom. I did not find her all that convincing. I think the show did better when it made the minor characters one dimensional. Smash’s mom from the first season is a great example. She was exactly the tough-love single mom you expected to find in such a situation, and she always lived up to our expectations. This season, they have been trying too hard to humanize the parents and instead they’ve wound up making them uneven and confusing—Becky’s mom wavers from vulnerable to vicious, Jess’ dad from curmudgeon to saint, and Luke’s parents from Christian robots to gentle darlings. One minute his mom was the loony from Carrie and the next minute she was staring dewy-eyed at her beloved son. I love that he calls her Ma’am, though. That’s a great detail, along with the simplicity of his particular prayer: “Dear Lord. Please help me get some more drugs before Friday.”The abortion plot is another way in which this show is stuck in the 1980s or maybe the early 1990s. Those were the days when Christian conservatives used the school board bureaucracies to push their agenda, and Texas was ground zero. The show went a little overboard on that loud-mouthed fundie—“Are you calling me a liar?” she yelled. But they got the basic dynamic right. Tami is speaking one language and they are speaking another. Repeating that she “followed protocol” is not helping her cause. In the minds of her enemies, the only conscionable Christian thing for Tami to have done was to not follow protocol (while pretending to) and send that girl to the nearest crisis pregnancy center, where some nice Christian lady posing as a regular nurse would have convinced Becky to keep that baby. What does “protocol” matter to them in the face of a grave sin? So to answer your question, Emily, I think Tami’s even-handed counsel is precisely what got her in trouble.

That’s a lovely point you make about teenage love, Emily, and I would take it one step further. Its beauty and drama lie precisely in the fact that we know it doesn’t last. I’ve just been reading Mr. Peanut  in preparation for our future DoubleX audio book club. Marriage in Adam Ross’ novel is a kind of prison; men obsessively fantasize about killing their wives as their only form of escape. Teenage love is just as intense but has a built-in escape and is thus, by Ross’ standards at least, idyllic. FNL is fairly romantic about teenage romance. Couples stay together for a long time, they never have I.M. chats or text, and they certainly don’t sext. But even within the confines of this relatively old-fashioned courtship, it would be a letdown if Matt and
Julie decided to buy a house alongside Mr. and Mrs. Coach and settle down. The only couples allowed to get hitched are ones whose lives you know will continue to be full of mad drama even after the wedding—Billy and Mindy, for example.

Now to answer a few minor points you both mentioned. There is no chance Vince and Jess are having a platonic friendship. Vince and platonic don’t belong in the same sentence. He is not there outside Jess’ house because he’s lonely. He’s there because they have something deep—a history and a connection that I would say makes them a better match than Jess and Landry. That painful Obama moment at Landry’s parents’ house only underscores this. Second, did Tim and Becky actually watch Thelma and Louise? (Another stuck-in-time reference—a 16-year-old would never even have heard of that movie.) I just assumed Riggins made Becky pick something else. Anyone recognize the brief clip they showed?

Finally, I’ve said this before, but more Buddy, please. Twenty seconds of Buddy can make an episode for me. In this one, I loved how he earnestly reported to Eric on every phase of his Panthers withdrawal, while ignoring Eric’s growing annoyance. And no, David, Tami and Eric are not drinking too much, you teetotaler. One glass of wine on date night and a few drinks with a friend do not an alcoholic make.

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