Hi all. I’m having a serious anticipatory fan-girl rush reading these entries. I’m replaying in my head favorite moments from last season, great and small, like when the boys start spontaneously humming their locker-room dirge before the game they are sure to lose; or when Glenn tells Eric about his “mouth on Tami Taylor’s mouth,” and Coach responds with a pained expression and an epic head scratch. A few thoughts on your thoughts:
1. “Dwell in the details.” What a mantra, David H. Would that all of television writing were guided by it. When thinking about FNL, I recall less the broad story than the details. Like Vince standing up and saying to Jess, “I’m not your little brother” and looking so hot while he’s cleaning the toilet! FNL,more than most other shows on television, tries to capture the texture of everyday life, which requires lingering on Vince’s mother sleeping on a bench or Saracen’s (dead) father sending videos from Iraq. 2. Murderball! I knew it. 3. I could not agree more about Tyra and Buddy, but I often lose patience for Tim Riggins, precisely because that smoldering hangdog serves him for all occasions. Perhaps a stint in prison will give him a meaner glare and make him less passive. 4. Unscripted moments. I am always wondering about those. Which actors freelance the most? Are they really just given a situation and allowed to roam in it, or do some of the actors want a tighter script? Is the Matt/Landry banter unscripted? The huddles? Eric and Tami? Billy and Tim? I imagine Eric’s inspirational speeches are written out beforehand, but maybe he’s gotten so good at them by now that he can make one up on the fly.
A couple of more broad FNL themes, which we can discuss as they come up again in the new season:
One of the show’s great strengths is its distinctive brand of male sentimentality. This is a show, as Meghan O’Rourke put it, designed to make men cry. Men are put through trials, pushed into bouts of self-reflection, put in the path of women who give them the space to choke up. It’s so John Ford, so traditional, conservative even. It’s distinctly un-ironic and un-Hollywood. Sometimes I try to imagine Larry David in Dillon just for the hell of it. Where does this come from? I can’t wait for more of it.
Along with the Taylor marriage, moments between Tami and Julie stand out for me on the show. I have just about memorized Tami’s speech to Julie about the first time she had sex, just so I can crib parts of it when the time comes for me to talk to my daughter. I would not say that the show is all that strong on female friendships, since those seem to always die out. But it is quite excellent on female domesticity—Tami’s first few months raising the baby was the best depiction of that doleful period I’ve ever seen. I wonder what this season’s mother-daughter highlight will be.
Finally, one thing I’ve always noticed about Friday Night Lights is how hermetically sealed its teenage universe is. The kids don’t talk about pop stars or watch TV or wear designer jeans. Let’s look for this season’s examples of how kids are sheltered from our harsh culture.
OK, let it roll. Readers, please don’t hesitate to guess plot developments or share your own insights and questions, now and throughout the season.