Everything I Know About Life I’ve Learned From TV – Chapter One

Everything I Know About Marriage I’ve Learned From Friday Night Lights

With the TV season winding down, I’ve decided to try and tackle a series of essays that have been floating around in my head for a while now – all under the banner of “Everything I Know About Life, I Learned From Television”.

It sounds pathetic to some and, sure, it’s a coy overstatement. But really, I have learned a lot from television. Mary Richards inspired me to go to journalism school, I channel Tami Taylor every day when I deal with difficult people at work, I spent real time and effort finding a group of friends I enjoyed and could relate to because I wanted that wacky-group-of-pals sitcom experience.

And recently, something happened in my life that brought all of this to the forefront. A boy proposed, I said yes, and now I’m supposed to be doing this thing called getting married. It’s one of those big, adult decisions that freak me out a little, like working in an office or buying milk instead of new shoes. (Remind me to tell you the story of how I electrocuted myself a little right before he proposed another time.)

 

Like a lot of people my age, my parents are divorced. (Divorce is so common now that it’s no longer OK to say “I come from a broken home” as an excuse for any and all bad or erratic behavior. It’s unfortunate, really.) They’ve always been divorced, at least to me – I was young and can’t remember anything else. In fact, there’s a lot of divorce in my life. Some people are shooting oh-for-two, and while my grandparents have been happily (I would hope) married for years, they’re so old that it’s difficult for me to look at them and go, “Oh, OK, that’s what a functional marriage looks like.”

Enter Coach and Mrs. Coach. The people I plan to base my marriage on.

In watching five seasons of Friday Night Lights, you get to know the relationship of Tami and Eric Taylor. OK, yeah, it’s fictional. I do understand the difference between reality and television, so you can delete that “Let’s stage an intervention for Jill” mass email you’ve been preparing. But I think there’s a lot to be learned from this imaginary life partnership.

I want to be best friends. I want to support one another in our life decisions. I want to argue and fight without forgetting that we love each other. And I want other things, of course, things that are uniquely me and him and have nothing to do with FNL. I want to DVR Jeopardy for us to watch together every day until Alex Trebek dies, and even longer because maybe then someone a little less snide will host. I want to win at Scrabble and lose at Using Logic In The Everyday World. I want to have kids and grandkids and hopefully a dachshund because honestly, they’re adorable. And yeah, I want the kind of relationship I saw on Friday Night Lights.

As far as TV marriages go, Friday Night Lights depicted the best and hopefully most realistic one I’ve ever seen. There were conflicts, but we as viewers never felt the marriage was in jeopardy. No one cheated on the other because, come on, it’s Coach and Mrs. Coach. When Eric had the chance to go coach college football, Tami let him go even though she was pregnant because she wanted him to achieve his dreams. And then he gave that up when he saw she was struggling with the baby and Julie was being a brat (because Julie was always the worst) and the job wasn’t that great anyway. But he gave it up, because his marriage was more important. And then in the series finale (spoiler alert, but guys it aired forever ago!) they moved so that Tami could take an exciting new job, because it was her turn. They both work, they both parent, they both make big life decisions together. It’s a true partnership.

News is floating around the Interwebs about a possible Friday Night Lights movie, and I can’t say I’m happy about that idea. It’s fine in theory, but so is finishing an entire wheel of brie cheese, until you do and you feel like puking. It’s always better to end on a good note, and the series finale of Friday Night Lights and where we left those characters was basically perfect. Where we left Eric and Tami Taylor was perfect, and I hope my real marriage resembles their imaginary one.

Minus the moody teenage daughter, of course. But I wouldn’t mind the large-headed baby.