*There are going to be some spoilers here*
I’ve been binge watching Friday Night Lights, a TV show produced starting in 2006, adapted from a 2004 movie based on the story of the Odessa Permian Panthers football team.
The TV Panthers are from a fictionalized town of Dillon, TX, located somewhere in west Texas. And in Dillon, like just about every other town in west Texas, football is king. The town leaders played it and still bask in their faded glory. The current players are treated as princes, complete with fuzzy grade & class requirements, a program that’s financed to the detriment of the educational programs and “rally girls” ready to provide any favor to their Panther. Friday nights have practically the entire town turning out to cheer their boys.
The main character is Eric Taylor, head coach. He inspires his teams, deals with boosters and wins a lot of football. He is husband to Tami, who goes from homemaker to guidance counselor & high school principal. He is also father to possibly the most annoying character ever, Julie. She is a not so bright, selfish, bratty & compulsively lying teenager. Eventually, we get a new baby, Gracie Belle. The show did not last long enough for her to get too offensive.
And we meet the Panthers team:
Jason Street is “QB 1” who ends up paralyzed the first during the first game. Over the years we see him learn to live in a wheel chair & eventually become a husband, father, coach & sports agent.
Tim Riggins is a fullback who drinks a case of beer a day, doesn’t bother attending class & lives with brother Billy. We do meet dad in a couple of episodes. No mention of mom. He’s a “bad boy” with a heart of gold. After graduation, he washes out of college in no time at all, comes back to Dillon & eventually goes into business with Billy, who uses their car repair shop as a car chop shop. Because Billy has a family, Tim takes all the blame and goes to prison. Again, he comes back to Dillon. Not sure exactly how he ends up supporting himself. One of my favorite quotes is from Coach, who finds out his daughter is dating the back up QB. “At least she’s not dating a serial killer. Or a Riggins brother”.
Matt Saracen is “QB 2”. Matt is just a sophomore when he’s pushed into the spotlight. He lives with his grandmother & comes from the poor side of town. He ends up with a lot on his plate. He works at a drive-in, supports his grandmother & has little money. He ends up leaving Dillon to go to Chicago to study art. Unfortunately, he ends up married to Julie Taylor and goodness knows he could have done better.
Brian Williams is the star running back. He lives with his mom and sisters. Full of confidence, looking to football to give him a better life. I really liked this character. After a small legal problem and an injury, he ends up a star at Texas A&M & hopefully beyond.
Landry Clark is Matt’s best friend, son of a cop & a brainiac. He eventually ends up as a kicker and at Rice University.
After some disagreements with rich boosters, Coach Taylor takes a job at newly reopened East Dillon High School, on the really poor side of town. Coach has to teach the kids how to play & how to win. He has to get the community to trust him & eventually get excited about football.
The East Dillon Lions team:
Vince Howard. “QB1”, who coach literally pulls out of a police car. Mom’s a junkie, dad is in jail. Eventually becomes a star at East Dillon and then senior year at Dillon High School after East Dillon’s football program is cut.
Luke Cafferty. Farm boy, forced to leave Panthers for Lions. Good player but not the best. Ends up in the army.
Other people on the team who were kind of pointless. I liked the first team alot. I liked the Lions team ok.
Buddy Garrity is one of the former stars who is a car dealer and eventual bar owner who will do anything for the panthers. We get to see his cheating implode his marriage and alienate his children. There is one in every town.
And we have the girls:
Tami Taylor is a supportive wife and counselor. She cares about her students. She is the mom of all of the kids, few of which seem to have parents. She’s at every game, she feeds the team, houses the kids between homes & is a great other half to Coach Eric. Eventually, after years of putting Eric’s career first, she ends up a university admissions director in Philadelphia. The last season finds Eric’s career in flux after the East Dillon football is axed & Tami with her fancy job offer. Eric at first pushes back about following her to Philadelphia but finally gives in and moves with her. I love Eric and wanted him to just put her first and eventually he did but only after much pouting and whining from Tami. Tami also has THAT annoying southern Texas accent, that is not as common as Hollywood thinks it is. She calls everyone y’all and has that sappy “bless your heart” phony personality. Liked her and did not like her.
Julie Taylor. See above.
Lila Garrity. Daughter of Buddy, at first girlfriend of Jason Street, then of Tim Riggins, then some guy whose name I don’t remember, a Christian radio guy played by Matt Czuchry who went on to play on the Good Wife. Goes to school at Vanderbilt
Tyra Collette Lives with mom with bad taste in men & stripper sister Mindy. First girlfriend of Tim Riggins, eventually girlfriend of Landry Clark who kills a man who attacked her. Ends up going to University of Texas & comes home to explore relationship with Tim again. Mindy eventually marries Tim’s brother Billy.
Mrs. Saracin is Matt’s grandmother who raised him after his mom abandoned him and his dad joined the army. She’s a proud grandmother and eventually heads toward some dementia.
Becky Sproles falls for Tim who is too old for her and eventually Luke Cafferty. Parents abandon her too.
Jess Meriweather becomes the team’s equipment manager & dreams of becoming a high school football coach. Girlfriend of Vince Howard
I’ll be honest, most of these girls annoy me. If they had goals, they were not explored. I liked Tyra & Jess. The others were the same airheaded, narcissistic character over and over. And I guess that is the way it was supposed to be…the show was about the boys. There was a lot of sex and a lot of drinking. Moving out an even one parent home to move in with boyfriends was pretty common. I know high school girls are way more, well everything, than we were but I have a hard time believing a lot of it. I was not too sad to see any of the girls go.
And what happened to JD McCoy, Santiago, above mentioned Christian radio guy, red-headed rally girl puppet from East Dillon & Epyck? And who the heck names a child Epyck?
My opinion is the show went on one season too long but I’m glad they wrapped up stories and ended cleanly.
Thoughts to be edited later…