Thursday, August 4, 2011

Texas Forever: FNL Top Ten

Friday Night Lights Cast Promo WideI’m not a TV person. My 10 second attention span is legend in our house. So what on earth would compel me to stay seated for not one, but 5, seasons’ worth of shows?  Something sure struck a chord because my girls & I, both here and in TN found ourselves hooked. We finished the final episode last weekend and, because I process things by writing and talking  about them, these are the thoughts that wouldn’t go away.
The show isn’t perfect but it does, in the words of Coach Taylor ,“a damn fine job” of portraying some powerful truths. In case you thought this was just about football, think again. In case you ever played on the field, cheered for the team, or marched in the band – you’ll enjoy this all the more. (Disclaimer: Use your judgment. There is plenty to talk about, especially with older kids, but every family is different. You know your comfort zone when it comes to certain hot topics.)
1. Place. Filmed in Austin, the show has this state nailed down. Whether it’s churches with messages out front, the local BBQ joint & ice cream hangout, or the wide sweeping hill country sunsets, there is a sense of community here that goes beyond the game of football.
2. Practice. You don’t make progress unless you are willing to work hard and sweat. Some might have more gifts than others, but persistence pays off. Thank you writers for showing kids who thrive in a disciplined environment and are grateful for it. Thank you for showing adults who care enough to require respect.
3. Leadership. Some did it right and some didn’t. The best built honor into those they led. An inescapable fact: boys need fathers and those that aren’t fortunate enough to have them need a father-figure to fill that void. Leaders sometimes make the hard choices that may not be understood right then. One of the most touching scenes involved a forfeit. Coach couldn’t let his team continue to be beaten, bruised, and bloodied. In a seemingly odd juxtaposition of music, Sufjan Stevens’ “Come Thou Fount” played in the background. Was the forfeit a blessing? Yes it was. Perfect choice.
4. Work. There is virtue in a job well done and FNL never backed off from showing folks working hard. On the field, in a store, behind a counter.  Nurses, policemen, farmers, and mechanics. Parents come home late and they’re tired. Students have to study. Some of the best interaction happens while people are working, proving that this is a fundamental part of our lives – not something to escape from. (Some might argue that watching a tv series is doing just that; the irony is not lost on me.)
5. Commitment. The best coaches, teachers, counselors know that you can’t just impart information, you have to know the ones in your care and be willing to go the extra mile with and for them. You don’t clock out at 5:00.  In the words of the inimitable Buddy G, “You can’t fake boosterism.”
6. Decisions. Choices have consequences and, for the most part, the characters reaped them. Some showed the long hard climb back from the depths of addiction and others showed the shame and loss of reputation that comes from taking the easy way out. In most cases it wasn’t the end however. The nice thing about a 5 season series is that if a character ends up in the gutter, he doesn’t have to stay there. Someone called TV “The American Dickens” and in this case I agree. Continuity provides room for redemption.
7. Sacrifice. Loving someone means dying to yourself. Demonstrated over and over.
8. Marriage. It’s the small things that carry the day. Don’t grow weary in well-doing.
9. Faith. People attend church. They pray. They acknowledge that they are part of something bigger than themselves. For mainstream TV to portray Christianity as something other than purely a caricature is unusual and welcomed.
10. Home. In a workshop recently, I listened to an esteemed college professor explain that “there is really only one story.”  You leave home, you struggle to return home, and you do. It may not be the same as when you left, but if there is going to be a satisfying ending – you find your way home. Eric & Tami move to a new one, Matt & Julie begin one, Tim & Billy build one, and Luke ships off to protect them all.
Ending this post with a very full heart,