F-Rated: Friday Night Lights is Fantastic

Thank goodness for Friday. Night Lights, that is.

Reaching the halfway point of the TV season, NBC’s FNL is clearly a standout, capturing critical acclaim every which way from Texas and beyond.

It’s no wonder then that it’s snagged a spot on this week’s F-Rated, its football-themed fervor branding it one of the most multi-layered dramas on TV.

Audiences who haven’t embraced all that is FNL often get caught in the same titular viewer misconceptions that lead to the snubbing of great shows like Freaks and Geeks or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. FNL, despite it’s sport mantras isn’t a sports show. The football, though a large part of the show, is a backdrop for the teenaged angst, and small-town politics that rule their lives.

It’s actually kind of profound when you think about it. It’s probably the first show to make jocks look prolific and deeper than their playing gear in like, forever.

What’s remarkable about the show is how much it makes you understand: understand the atmosphere of this hero-worshipping football town, the hardships of the teens just struggling to get by, even the Texas heat when you live in frigid Canada.

Everything about the show sparkles on screen, from it’s moving performances (Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor should be hogging TV awards) to its glossed over, glimmery film quality. And it’s not glossy in The O.C. way. FNL has got a dream-like tinge to it – it’s uncertain handheld camera work, and unassuming dollops of underscored melody do just enough to pull you out of your living room, and on to the football field. You might even find yourself succumbing to a bit of a Texan drawl.

In a TV landscape smeared with superheroics, the supernatural and mysterious narrative arcs that demand your attention for years and years, it’s nice to have something human. FNL is as raw as it is subtle, and never demands a viewer’s attention. After watching an episode, it earns it.

An F-Rate, for the Fantastic Dillon Panthers: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t ever lose.

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