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Why I Loved Friday Night Lights

I don’t like football. I’ve tried. Really. Growing up with a Seahawks-crazy dad and brother, in addition to grandparents and uncles, I’ve tried many times to understand what in heck is going on. And I failed.

So I never really expected to be crazy about a high school football show.

But the thing about the former NBC drama “Friday Night Lights” is that it’s not really about football at all. It’s about high school football coach Eric Taylor making good, upstanding men out of these teenagers who come from a wide span of life situations.

It Feels Real

Eric Taylor is a good, solid man who struggles, faces obstacles, gets frustrated, and hurts when these kids hurt. And, oh do they hurt.

The teenage characters’ conflicts are not just the typical “I’m not popular enough,” “My heart is broken,” “I can’t keep my grades up,” problems of most high school dramas. They have those too, but these characters are also struggling with things like a tragic football injury, shouldering responsibility of care for a senile grandma, having a father fighting in Iraq, learning how to grow up when your only guardian is an immature older brother… And of course the weekly pressure to bring their A-game on the field.

Over the course of the five seasons, we get quite a span of characters (high school is only four years, after all), but they are all unique with their own set of problems and challenges.

It’s not perfect…

I’d say there’s a fair amount of sex in this show. For the most part, I think the sexual content is there for a story reason, rather than a cheap addition to get dirty viewers. But there are at least a few scenes that show a little more than some of us want to see (though it’s still nothing like you might see in a non-network, M-rated show…).

A bit more troubling is the casual attitude toward sex that the characters hold. It’s mostly pretty typical of how people by and large do treat it in our modern society, but there were at least a few times that it made me morally cringe.

For example, when Eric walks in on his teenage daughter in bed with her boyfriend. He kind of freaks, as he should, but in the end, the conclusion is kind of, “What right do I have to be mad about it? I’d be a hypocrite, since I had premarital sex,” rather than any kind of insight into what his natural outrage really means for the situation.

And then there’s an abortion issue in one of the later seasons. It doesn’t start out necessarily condoning abortion, but rather paints it as a terrible, difficult decision. The problem is that it kind of comes across as, “This is so hard. Just like a lot of things are so hard.” No. This is not just like a lot of things. We are talking about the choice to take your child’s life or not. This is not the same.

After this, we also get a pair of Christian parents who are mad at Eric’s wife for seeming to encourage a girl to get an abortion (she really hadn’t encouraged it, but didn’t really discourage it either…), and these Christian parents are basically the bad guys in the conflict that follows. So that was kind of troubling.

I think in a show that I loved less, the whole little set of episodes about this conflict over abortion might have been enough to turn me off of the show altogether. But it was only a few episodes, and luckily the matter wasn’t even really referenced after that.

Over All

So the show does have some moral issues, but it is very well done, quite compelling, and fairly uplifting.

At any rate, you might want to watch it just so you can understand when people reference, “Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose!”