Clear Eyes, Full Hearts: Why You Should Be Watching FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

I’ll admit it, I was a skeptic. Why on earth would I want to watch a show about football? That and the fact that it was on opposite Gilmore Girls meant that Friday Night Lights didn’t make the cut onto my viewing schedule last season. Yeah, that was totally my bad.

Enough trusted friends swore up and down that it was a show worth watching that I finally caught up with season one on DVD. And now? I firmly believe that Friday Night Lights was by far the best drama on television last season.

Why? Because all around it’s an incredibly well-done show: beautifully shot, amazingly acted and wonderfully written. The pilot episode, directed by Peter Berg, is probably the best pilot to hit the air since Lost premiered three years ago. Not to mention that it’s an almost frighteningly accurate portrait of pretty much exactly what my own high school experience in Texas was like, from the ramshackle ranch-style houses and afternoons at the Alamo Freeze/Dairy Queen to the homecoming mums and simmering undercurrents of racism.

Because everything’s shot on location it all looks incredibly natural and real in a way you don’t often get to enjoy on television. And even though football is a running theme throughout the show, it’s not actually a show about football. Hell, I hate football, so if I can love this show you know there’s more to it.

Somewhere around disc three I realized what the show reminds me of–it’s like My So-Called Life set in Texas. It’s this incredibly vivid look at high school life that’s so poignant and addictive you can’t look away, no matter your age. And like MSCL, it’s populated by a cast of complex, lovable, messed-up characters who make you laugh even as they’re breaking your heart.

But don’t just take my word for it–go check out the DVDs for yourself. If you’re not hooked by episode four, I’ll eat my cowboy hat.

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