Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Friday Night Lights. And the summer I became addicted to it.

Every time I see any high school-based TV show commercial I grimace in disgust. I simply don’t like the overly-exaggerated drama about boy problem, cliques, high school queen bees and jocks, and the load of problems that come with oversensitive, hormone-raging teens. The high school setting is portrayed in such an unrealistic way, or at least most of these bizarre problems were never seen in my rural-town high school. So I guess I can see why I can’t relate to any of them. Regardless, I always tried to stay clear of any of these shows.

Or, at least that was the case until this past summer.

The summer after freshman year I spent 5 weeks in my sister’s nearly furniture-less and vacant townhouse near UCSD as I took a summer class. Faced with no one to hang out with, and no Netflix for about two weeks (my sister had just moved into the place), I resorted to a DVD of the first season of Friday Night Lights that belonged to my sister’s roommate. I had never heard of it before, and I learned it was about a high school football team from a small town called Dillon in Texas from the DVD case synopsis. I reluctantly watched it on my laptop one night and was hooked immediately. I spent the next couple of weeks watching 4 seasons every spare time I had.

The first three seasons were by far, the best. It’s easy to quickly warm up to Coach Eric Taylor with his strict yet inspiring coaching methods. He molds his players’ characters and shows a sincere interest in not only their success as football players but as leaders within their community. His wife, Connie Taylor, is a guidance counselor and is equally involved in ensuring that the high school students do well.

Now, I can’t say this show is exempt from your regular bizarre, slightly unrealistic high school drama. All the characters look much too old to be in high school, simply because the actors are well in their twenties, for the most part. Tim Riggins, one of the few characters that is present in most of the show, is a brooding and handsome football player who spends most of his time holding a beer bottle and shows absolutely no interest in any of his relationships. A handful of the girls are often fighting over a guy are some other silly thing, and overall, a ridiculous amount of importance is given to the football team by the small town of Dillon. The players are idolized by everyone and it becomes rather annoying to watch as any football drama is expounded to larger levels than it deserves.

However, all strange drama set aside, most of the students’ and players’ stories are inspiring and heart-felt. The story plot is addicting and you quickly invest yourself in the character’s experiences. I found myself laughing with their happy moments, crying at their disappointments, and cheering for the football team. All in all, these high school characters seem more real and believable than most other high school show characters, or at least in my opinion.

A few weeks ago I sat on my bed on a weekend night, clutching my pillow to my chest as I watched with much emotion, the last scenes of Friday Night Lights’ finale episode. The Emmy Award-winning TV series aired its final season. As I watched it, all the characters’ stories rushed in my mind and I felt a mixture of emotions because I had become invested in the characters’ lives and I wasn’t sure how to feel it all come to an end. So even though I feel like a hypocrite for spending most of my life shunning popular high school TV shows and then becoming such a fan of one, it’s all worth it because FNL is the best!

Jacqueline Cervantes

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