Texas Forever: 12 Things Television Can Learn From Friday Night Lights
Stories About Teenagers Don t Have to Be Stupid
Let s face it, most television stories involving teen characters are boring, cliched or irritating in the extreme. Instead of being depicted as complicated human beings navigating a challenging time in their lives, teens are most often shown as bratty, self-absorbed whiners in our house, due to frequent use, we ve abbreviated this complaint to STP - Stupid Teenager Plot . Friday Night Lights was that rare show that depicted the turbulent lives of teenagers without being condescending, predictable or sensationalistic. It occasionally fumbled in this arena, but most of the time, the show gave us teen characters who were not only realistic and compelling but occasionally quite admirable.
Committed Couples Can Be Fascinating to Watch
If you want to make a television critic s head explode, tell him or her that it s better if television couples with great chemistry never get together. That belief - much beloved by some network executives and writers - was proven wrong time and time again by Coach Eric Taylor and Tami Taylor. For five seasons, it was tremendous pleasure to see realistic married life, with all of its challenges and victories, depicted on the small screen. It helped that Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler gave such truthful, nuanced and well-calibrated performances, but the real lesson here is that viewers will wholeheartedly embrace characters who are deeply in love if the relationship is approached with subtlety, intelligence and a sense of humor. The story of a relationship can be far more interesting than the endless flirtation that some TV executives seem to think we want.
Silence Is Golden
I love clever TV dialogue - up to a point. But on Friday Night Lights, which famously allowed its actors to improvise and use the script as a jumping-off point, characters talked like normal people. They hesitated, they stumbled, they found unlikely eloquence, and sometimes, they said nothing at all. Coach Taylor s heart-piercing locker-room speeches are of course one of the show s great legacies, but when FNL is gone, what I may remember most are a series of charged, silent moments between characters. FNL followed these characters so closely that we knew what they were going through without having to be told. The show knew that sometimes words fail, and love and heartbreak live in those spaces.
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