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August 29, 2015

Back to Heartbreak With 'Friday Night Lights'

by Stephanie Earp, posted Apr 11th 2011 5:00PM

As the final season debut of 'Friday Night Lights' approaches on Friday, April 15, my joy at the chance to return to Dillon is mixed with sadness and frustration.

I'm pissed that almost no one watched this show during its four miraculous seasons and that almost no one will be watching its swan song. Like 'Veronica Mars' and 'Arrested Development' before it, it will become a weird quirk of conversation for the people who watched it. At parties and chance meetings, fans of the show will reminisce about the beauty of it while other people will avoid the freaks talking about fictional, canceled characters as if they were real.

The whole thing wears me out. I'm tired of being a huge fan of the shows that don't make it. It reminds me of dating in your 20s -- the people you want to see again never want to see you. They're all like, 'You're smart and witty, but I'm really looking for something more comfortable and traditional.' I always assumed these guys liked to watch '24' and 'Family Guy.'

Actually, a better metaphor is an election, although that's probably jumping to mind because we're about to have one here in Canada. I'm always voting for my beliefs and I always come out a big loser. My guy gets canceled, so to speak, and I watch in wonder as the bozo who got the popular vote turns out to make as much sense as a recent episode of 'Desperate Housewives.'

The truth is TV is a democracy, and works about as well as can be expected from that ancient and revered form of government. If you have a TV, you can vote, and you do so with your remote. The things we watch -- and by we, I mean millions of us -- stay on the air and the things we don't watch get the axe.

In light of that grim reality, the continued existence of 'Friday Night Lights' is a bit of a socialist triumph. Back when the abysmal season one ratings had the show heading towards the dust bin of history, fans sent NBC 100 boxes of footballs to protest. In fact, NBC really gave the show every chance it could. A schedule of reruns on sister networks had worked for 'The West Wing' but didn't help 'FNL.' Finally, thanks to a cost-sharing deal with DirecTV that saw them get first-run rights, a show that wasn't supposed to make it past episode 13 has come to enjoy five seasons. If that isn't special interest, I don't know is.

But like disappointing results on election night, the whole thing has me wondering what's wrong with the TV viewing population. Why doesn't everyone want to watch shows with fine acting, meaningful writing and big themes? Why do shows like 'Grey's Anatomy' capture the public imagination and drag on for term after term when feisty girl detectives and curmudgeonly football coaches can't get more than a few thousand votes? What I'm really wondering, of course, is why I'm so different from everyone else. Everyone else is perfectly happy with a diet of 'Idol,' 'Loser' and 'L&O,' clearly. But I'm not.

Is it me? Or us, I should say, because I know you're out there, you viewers like me who flip from channel to channel, dying to connect with something and finding a wasteland of garbage. Are we wrong about these shows we love? Are they actually depressing? Bad? Boring? I remember arguing fruitlessly with my sister over 'Arrested Development' in its second season. She didn't like it. "They're all jerks," she said of the Bluths. I couldn't argue with that -- it's unassailably true. It was one of those 'Eureka!' moments where I pictured an entire nation of viewers tuning in to see this show the critics were all raving about and shaking their heads in consternation, much like I do when the judges praise the off-key karaoke stylings of the latest 'Idol' darling.

It's enough to make you want to never care again. I think I might be back to my dating metaphor now. It's like I've had my heart broken too many times, and I have resolved to harden it. After 'FNL' I'm not going to fall in love with any more quirky, original shows.

I guess that makes season 5 of 'Friday Night Lights' my last summer romance with network TV. No wonder it feels so bittersweet.

'Friday Night Lights' final season debuts on Friday, April 15 at 8PM on NBC in the US and on Global in Canada.

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I will miss this show so much. There is nothing else to watch on Fridays. I always cheered for the characters and had a connection.

August 05 2011 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is hard to believe how a show this good is not watched by everyone. Just good clean family life and no violence. I am very thankful you did keep coming back for five years. I won't believe it is gone for good as it is way too GOOD.

June 28 2011 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with all of you. I still miss Homefront (where I originally found Kyle Chandler) in 1991 (?).I'm trying to love Parenthood. I tried loving Brothers and Sisters. But FNL is the best.

April 12 2011 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i loved this show, another great show that no one watch and luckily was saved by TNT is SouthLand...NBC dropped the ball. in todays age, if its not reality, teen sexy or some other BS it doesnt make it unless its on a network like Showtime or HBO. I hardly watch TV anymore because its all just a bunch of crap.

April 12 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You're definitely not the only one. I'm always watching shows like this that get cancelled before the season is out. I'm no fan of the CSIs, L&O, Idol, Brother shows. I was the one person watching Boomtown. Remember Key West in the 90's? Yea I was the one person watching that quirky show. Remember EZ Streets in the 90's? Same thing. I loved Rubicon. I enjoyed Veronica Mars. Seems no one else did. I'm glad Supernatural and Smallville have lasted as long as they have. I've been with them from episode 1. I watch very little network TV. USA, TNT and HBO are creating shows that are different and more interesting.

FNL is a great show. I cared about the Taylors and the rest of the football family. I can't say that at all about, for instance, the Bravemans on Parenthood. I really have come to despise that hippy dippy show.

April 12 2011 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dexter Morgan

What made FNL so special was that TV loves to make every 1 hour drama relationship go dysfunctional and ugly. ... But FNL always kept the marriage between the 2 main characters- Coach Taylor and Tami - though they had a few moments..it was mostly warm, loving, nurchuring, and respectful of each other .......Something that tv writers just don't let happen in 99% of the cases.

April 12 2011 at 1:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dexter Morgan

FINAL SEASON----- already seen it on Directv..... and ditto all 77 episodes.........

for a show that now is about to run one last time on the lame NBC network that handed the first run rights to Directv a couple seasons ago...........FNL has been by far...the best, young or old....boy or girl.......family relationship show (football is just the occupational backdrop) on any network channel .the past 5 years- not even close.!!!!

entertainment wise...only an awesome FOX season of 24 ever competed with it....

.... and lucky you......the fact you have brain fxxxxxxxx the previous 4 seasons...is pretty much irrelevant.....even a typical CBS....level 1 / attention span challenged viewer.... will pick it up right from the get go.

Do yourself a big favor...GET AWAY from CBS.....and watch something special.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

April 12 2011 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ohmygosh, are you me? I so agree with everything you said. I share the exact sentiments. I honestly don't get why shows like Firefly, Arrested Development, Veronica Mars and Friday Night Lights don't get enough love from the audience. They deserve more than abysmal ratings.

April 11 2011 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't loose!

April 11 2011 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No, you are not alone. I too always fall for the quirky, quality shows that no one else seems to watch, I get attached and then get crushed.....Freaks and Geeks, Journeyman, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Veronica Mars and so on. I cant' stomach reality tv or the banal sitcoms that are everywhere. I'm always searching for something different, special, something with heart. Those shows are rare and most times they get canceled. I'm grateful that a quality show like FNL got five seasons and I will miss it.
On a positive note, some shows I loved lasted ie Buffy, Angel, The X-Files (perhaps too long).

April 11 2011 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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