I love Friday Night Lights. I love it. There isn’t much must-see TV on my list, but I almost never miss FNL. If I do,>"/>
I love Friday Night Lights. I love it. There isn’t much must-see TV on my list, but I almost never miss FNL. If I do, I make sure to catch it online the next day. And since NBC has the entire season available for free , I’ve been running through the first episodes again, which are a pleasingly different experience given the context they now have. Even better for FNL fans, it now looks like we’ll get at least part of a second season of FNL.
Last night’s season finale was downright chill-inducing, and brought the first year to a satisfying close. If you haven’t yet seen FNL, or think it’s just a dumb show about football, I implore you to give the pilot a shot (even I gave the O.C. a chance before I decided it stunk). But since I seem to have acquired a newfound reputation as a contrarian, I’ll play the part a little: it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if NBC decided not to renew FNL.
This modest proposal has nothing to do with the show. Yeah, the story arcs are sometimes too tidily resolved. Yeah, despite the attention to football details, the show fails at certain verisimilitudes (ever notice how clean everyone’s jersey is at the end of the game?) and tests plausibility in others (just how many last-second wins can a team have in one season?). Yeah, it’s often derivative (I frequently see shades of another fantastic show that actually did end before its time, My So-Called Life, which was—dare I admit this?—perhaps the seminal series of my adolesence), melodramatic, and predictable. But it’s also wonderfully unpredictable, unsentimental, impeccably acted (for the most part), beautifully shot, evocatively scored (by MSCL alum W.G. Snuffy Walden), gritty, real, and despite depicting the alien landscape of small-town Texas football, totally nostalgic. It’s as close as you can get to perfection on network television. If I had to pick the best TV show ever, I’d be tempted to choose FNL.
I fear a second season of FNL because I just don’t see how it can continue its excellence. There’s a big difference, artistically, creatively, and otherwise, in trying to impress the network enough to get renewed and keeping an audience interested over a number of years. FNL creator Peter Berg has already admitted that he’s started developing new characters that will support the show as it moves along. At a certain point, you’re talking survival, not kick-ass, stirring television. No, these things aren’t mutually exclusive, but just think about how bizarre great shows like the Sopranos have become at times. Are these story turns the natural progression of the characters and situations, or are they merely attempts to stir desensitized viewers? Every show eventually jumps the shark.
FNL doesn’t necessarily have to nosedive after just one season. There are still a bunch of viable storylines and characters that Berg could move toward resolution. He’s set it up so that next season is unlikely to resemble the one just concluded, which is a good thing. Unlike MSCL, FNL was afforded the chance to finish its first run, and it was a 10. I say let it stand.