Great questions, Plotz. Here are mine:
1. For two seasons now, I’ve been ruing the lack of a major, three-dimensional Hispanic character on FNL. I know the writers made a couple of runs at this in aborted Season 2, with Santiago the delinquent and Carlotta the nurse. But that was a long time ago, and neither of those characters came with the family portraits that are one of your show’s many strengths, David. It’s a missed opportunity, and it makes Dillon a weird demographic outlier in West Texas, where most towns have a few black people, some white people, and a lot of Latinos. What explains this blind spot, and does Season 5 give us a Hispanic kid to fall in love with?
2. I’ve been writing a lot about teenage bullying, which recently has been linked to the suicide of several gay teenagers. This makes me think about Devin, one of my very favorite characters, who I’m hoping to see more of this season. She seems entirely at home in her Dillon surroundings—out and unfazed about it—she’s comfortable enough to recruit Julie to scope out a gay bar with her. Did you think about how to introduce a gay character? (Eric’s assistant coach seems far less at home with his homosexuality.) Is Devin a kind of role model for gay high-school students? And have the recent suicides made you wonder whether she would, in fact, be so at ease in rural America?
3. One of the strongest themes of FNL is the power of place: what it means to be rooted in Dillon or to leave it. To me, Dillon is at once entirely of West Texas, with its cowboy bars and big skies, and also a stand-in for all that’s right and beautiful—and at the same time claustrophobic and flawed—about small towns everywhere. Some of your characters—the Riggins brothers, Buddy Garrity—cannot leave Dillon. Some of them have to—Matt, Tyra, Lyla, Jason Street. This all seems obvious in retrospect, but did these plot lines actually develop along the way? How conscious are you about how often to move the action outside the town?
4. Like David, I adore the Taylor marriage. Are there other couples, on TV or in film, who make you think of Eric and Tami?