Friday, February 11, 2011

The Lights Go Out in Dillon, Texas

The following post is a retrospective on not only last night’s Friday Night Lights Series Finale but the entire series as a whole. There are spoilers ahead. So if you haven’t seen this weeks series finale or plan on watching the entire show on your own time – why haven’t you? It’s on Instant – then you best stop reading.

Like most contemporary television shows, I find myself in the awkward spot with Friday Night Lights. I’m not one of the die-hard fans who were there from the premiere all the way to the end. In fact I was against the entire idea of building a show based on the solid sports movie, based on the book of the same name. I even went as far as to playfully mock others on my dorm floor with being captured by what appeared to be (and still is) a predictable sports show pilot. A year later, one of my best friends and fraternity brothers came back to school with the first season on DVD. As soon as he finished a disc, he would pass it on to me. From that point on, we were hooked.
Now that the spotlight on the fictional town of Dillon, Texas has been shut down for good I can say I never felt as connected to a place and its citizens. Yes, The Wire is still the best television drama ever and the understanding it gave me to Baltimore at that time is something this white-suburban male couldn’t find any other way. But I could never see myself, nor would I want, in that world. I would, however, be satisfied growing up in Dillon. I would long leave and go on to bigger and better things beyond football like Julie, Matt, Landry or Tyra but like those characters I can also see the value in living in Dillon which is best summed up by the show’s intro.

This love for Dillon and its citizens kept me through the shows down period which is basically the second season. Said season includes a number of plotlines beyond Landry’s murderous rampage that I completely forgot about (Street and Riggins’ trip to Mexico, Tyra’s short-lived volleyball career and Tami’s sister living with the Taylors). There were others in subsequent seasons (Matt’s internship with the metal sculpture artist) but no matter how off-beat the storylines were, myself and the other dedicated fans stuck with the show with the hope we would be given the glory of that first season and more often than not, we were rewarded.

Through the few failed plots, cast changes and small changes in tone, the show has always had two excellent leads in Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton to hold our attention as seen in the final shots of season three and season five, both of which were meant as a series finale.

There has been plenty said about how Chandler and Britton played the most realistic, happily married couple in the history of television. This is all true so I won’t spend a paragraph discussing it. All I’ll say is hopefully they get their second consecutive Emmy nominations and hopefully a win for at least one of them and go on to lead roles on other shows of a high caliber.

The same goes for the rest of the cast. Some who left the cast early are already making some noise. Gaius Charles (Smash) did four movies in the past two years including Takers, Salt and The Messenger. Minka Kelly is currently in theaters with The Roommate and is in the pilot for the Charlies Angels reboot. Based on their talents seen throughout Friday Nights Lights is potentially endless.

It’s going to be hard to live without a show with the quality of Friday Night Lights, possibly harder than something like Lost. I look forward to hearing friends ask, “Do you know about this show Friday Night Lights,” in the future and revisiting the show with them through a discussion about each season. Until then we’ll have to keep our eyes clear and hearts full and know that the show never lost as it left on its own terms.

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