On the very day that the final Harry Potter movie caused crying, weeping, and gnashing of teeth (I cried. I wept. I gnashed myself.), the NBC series “Friday Night Lights” slipped away, almost unnoticed. In hindsight, such a send off seems appropriate for the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful series that, like the Dillon High School football team, sometimes found itself going up against opponents with more fire power. In the case of the series, FNL’s time slot was opposite both “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” during its 5 year run.
It’s hard to figure out why, for some of us, FNL worked. It may have been that it captured something of Texan culture. (The producers never built a set, other than a locker room, and the series was filmed, not in LA, but in Austin.) The result is that what it lacks in glitz and glamour, FNL more than makes up for with grit and honesty. There are times when you can almost feel the West Texas dirt catch in your throat.
Some might have written off the show as just another teenage football drama, but while football was a hook (some of the gridiron footage provides emotional spark), FNL was really about Eric and Tami Taylor, the football coach and his wife, the counsellor and later the principal at Dillon High School. Their marriage, and their personal and professional ups and downs, whether it involved conflicts with out of control boosters or disagreements with their impulsive daughter, drove some of us, but not nearly enough of us, to care about their Panthers.