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Introducing “Friday Night Writes”

Join us as we watch season one of ”Friday Night Lights.”

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Illustration by Emily Kimbro; NBC/ PhotoFest

It’s football season! As a Texan, I guess that should matter to me a lot more than it does. In reality, my thoughts about football are mostly concerns about what it does to the minds of young men, socially and physically, but while I’m not a big fan of the sport, I’m not a big hater either. Drag me to a game or sit me down in front of a TV (with some wings, please) and tell me which team to cheer for and I’ll cheer along. But my ambivalence towards football expands to any football-related shows and movies that aren’t “Remember the Titans” (Denzel Washington can do no wrong). And that means that despite living in Texas for nearly two decades, I’ve never seen “Friday Night Lights.” I hear that’s popular here.

To get into the football spirit, I’m going to watch the first season of “Friday Night Lights” alongside my colleagues Dan Solomon, Emily McCullar, and Christian Wallace. Christian also hasn’t seen the show, while I’m told Dan and Emily have watched FNL many times. Starting next week, we’ll watch four to five episodes of the first season each week. Every Friday in September, we’ll discuss the episodes in a roundtable, called “Friday Night Writes” because the show is called “Friday Night Lights” and we’ll be watching it and then writing, and… OK, you get it.

Please join us, whether you’re watching “Friday Night Lights” for the first time or have an annual viewing tradition, and chime in for our discussion and potential arguments in the comments every Friday—but keep spoilers to yourself. (Find the entire series on Netflix.) Kickoff is on September 1!

“Friday Night Writes” Schedule

September 1: Episodes 1-4
September 8: Episodes 5-8
September 15: Episodes 9-12
September 22: Episodes 13-17
September 29: Episodes 18-22

Before we get started, I’ve been tasked with naming everything I already know about the show before I watch it and without Googling anything. I know it’s a show about a small Texas town’s high school football team and that the phrase “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” is said at least once. I know it’s supposed to be based on a West Texas town, but that it was filmed in Austin. I know one of my friends claims to have been an extra on the show (hey, Brandon!). Other than that, I’ve managed to learn nothing else about the show.

I asked my colleagues at Texas Monthly about their impressions of “Friday Night Lights” and Pat Sharpe, our food editor who once watched an episode, said it was “a soap opera, but well acted.” Christian hasn’t seen much of the show either, but he already has some strong opinions about it, referring to it as a “pigskin Degrassi.” I’m guessing the show will be less about football than I anticipated and will have much more drama. It is high school, after all. So in addition to the consistent “we gotta make it to state championships!” plot I imagine will drive the season, I’m expecting a little drama on the side. My guesses include, but are not limited to:

  • high school sweethearts (both still in high school and those that have graduated and married)
  • a pregnancy scare
  • philandering spouses
  • bullying
  • ever so casual racism
  • overt racism
  • unrequited love
  • a new kid in town (probably from the big city)
  • classism
  • a struggling single mother
  • budding alcoholism
  • a football scholarship hanging on the line
  • drug abuse
  • prom drama

Will I like “Friday Night Lights”? I’m not sure. There’s really only one way to find out. See you next Friday for the roundtable!

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  • Ezra Yu

    I think you’ll enjoy it greatly! Just a heads up, season 2 was dramatically cut short b/c of the writer’s strike at the time.

    • anonyfool

      One of those storylines with Landry was insanely stupid that season? but the writers still defend it. Loved the rest of the show. The show is pretty soft on the racism compared to the book – the book was pretty bleak because it was documenting real injustice that was unresolved so since the show is only inspired by the book the show is able to focus on the fictional lives of the coach and families.

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