Best Shows of 2011: ‘Friday Night Lights’ (2006-2011)
You may never know how proud I am of you. — Eric Taylor
You changed my life, Coach. — Vince Howard
I have a theory that ‘Friday Night Lights’ changes the lives of everyone who experiences it. If I could have, I’d have bought the complete series for everyone I knew this Christmas because it deserves and needs to be seen by all.
‘Friday Night Lights’ wasn’t one of the best shows of 2011. It wasn’t one of the best shows of 2010 or 2009 or 2008 either. It’s not even one of the best shows of the last decade. It’s one of the most best shows in the history of television.
Saying goodbye to the men and women of Dillon, Texas felt a lot like I was saying goodbye to my friends. It felt a lot like I was losing a group of people I’d known my entire life. And I think that is one of the reasons the show succeeded. The writers of ‘FNL’ created and developed these characters in a way that made you feel like you knew them, made you care about them. And it worked so well because in reality, you probably do know someone like sweet and shy Matt Saracen. You probably know a girl like Tyra Collette who overcame all the obstacles placed in front of her and found success, and I think it is blasphemous for any woman to have never have known a man like Tim Riggins.
Saying goodbye to these characters was heartbreaking not only because I get overly attached to fictional characters, but also because I knew that another show like this would probably never exist. No other show could possibly come close to how realistic, how beautiful, and how breathtaking this show was. And after thinking about it for a long time, I realized how great that actually is, what that actually means.
It means Jason Katims created a world so wonderful, so beautiful, so real that nothing else will actually compare to it in the grand scheme of things. It will be remembered for being the show that portrayed the most realistic marriage on television. It will be remembered for the way it made you feel good and yet made you cry at the same time. It will be remembered for its inspirational speeches and unforgettable mottos as much as it will be remembered for its poignant silences. It will be remembered for its triumphs and its losses, just like a real football team. But this show, as we all know, was about more than football. It was about the men and women of Dillon, Texas. It was about coming together as a community and having something to rally behind and to count on. It was about life and the relationships we make and the people who help us along the way. It was about dreams and it was about love.
The show may have ended, Kyle Chandler may have his Emmy for the way he perfected the role of husband, father, coach and mentor to the young adults of Dillon, Texas, but in my mind this show will never truly be over. No, in my mind I still feel like those young men are still playing football, still growing up, still figuring out their lives in Dillon, Texas. And even without Coach Eric Taylor there to protect them, to teach them, to mentor them, they’re still going to grow up to be the greatest of men. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
Note: Photo courtesy of NBC.