With the summer drawing to a close, and no improvement in the weather, it’s the perfect time to get your teeth stuck into a new series on Netflix. Try Friday Night Lights, you won’t regret it.
I decided to give it a try after numerous recommendations from friends, and I was instantly hooked. You don’t have to have any knowledge or even interest in American football to enjoy it. Indeed, by the end you may even find yourself a convert to the game.
Even the very American way of having much older characters playing teens doesn’t take away from the show, after all, remember One Three Hill and the O.C? You do even if you won’t admit it.
The drama centres on the fate of a high school team in the fictional Dillon, a football-obsessed town in Texas. However the show is about much more than this: a wide range of themes are explored throughout the five series including family, social injustice, marriage, poverty, love, loss and most predominantly the American dream.
Coach Eric Taylor (played by the excellent Kyle Chandler) finds himself under extreme pressure as the coach of the Dillon Panthers. Only success in the Texas State Championship will do for the obsessed townspeople.
This puts huge strain on his family, wife Tamie and daughter Julie, neither of whom are too interested in football. The town doesn’t really accommodate those who aren’t however, and this one dimensional focus is explored in the coming of age drama.
Indeed for the football stars like Tim Riggins (played by Taylor Kitsch who you may recognise from the latest True Detective series), the State Championship is make or break.
The peak of their lives comes at 18, with bleak prospects after that. The issue of poverty and class in Middle America is explored in depth through this theme.
By the end you’ll feel like you’re part of the Taylor family, and the town of Dillon. Connie Britton who plays Tamie Taylor becomes another star of the show with her brilliant humour and generous spirit.
Indeed, Eric and Tami’s relationship is a very realistic portrayal of married life with a litany of highs as well as lows, kept going by brilliant onscreen chemistry between Chandler and Briton.
You’ll become transfixed by the fate of the Panthers whether you like sport or not, the characters will quickly draw you in.
The question is can Taylor turn a hugely talented (and cocky) bunch of young men into champions? The game scenes aren’t too long, but the drama of high school football is captured in each one.
The best thing about Friday Night Lights is the sense of optimism that persists throughout. The show doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of life, this ensures the viewing experience retains a feeling of reality.
However, despite all the adversity many of the leading characters face, a positive tone remains throughout. This is what has won the show an army of fans. Its popularity has lived on despite the fact that the last series finished nearly five years ago.
“Clear eyes full hearts, can’t lose!”