The 2011 Emmy nominations are bittersweet for Friday Night Lights fans. After five seasons of consistently being one of the best dramas on television, FNLfinally received a nomination for best drama series. This announcement came the day before its series finale aired last night on NBC.
It is only just dawning of me how much I will miss Friday Night Lights. I’ve spent the last few days reading much of the commentary on FNL that is circulating around the Internet. (Grantland has an excellent oral history of the show that is definitely worth reading.) I don’t want this show to end. I want Coach Taylor to stay in Dillon forever and continue leading the Dillon Panthers/East Dillon Lions to state championships. I want Tim Riggins to continue being Tim Riggins. But that isn’t happening and now one of my all-time favorite series really is over.
When we left off last season, new characters were introduced, Julie Taylor and Landry Clarke were heading off to college, Tim Riggins was arrested, Tami Taylor quit her job at West Dillon with plans to transfer to East Dillon, and Coach Taylor was relishing in a sweet victory over his former team, the West Dillon Panthers. Through it all, the Taylors were and still are the parents I always wanted.
Fans of Friday Night Lights have been put through the ringer. Only the first season aired 22 episodes. We’ve suffered through more cancellation drama imaginable and tirelessly waited for FNL to be recognized by the Emmys. A deal with DirecTV gave us three more seasons and the phenomenal leads Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton were finally nominated at this year’s Emmys.
I joined the FNL fan club late. I started watching at the end of season three but within in a few episodes, I was addicted. The often bitter realities of family life centered around the drama of high school football games has made for beyond exceptional television. In so many ways Dillon, Texas reminds me of the town where I grew up, which is nowhere near Texas. But that speaks to the essence of FNL, capturing small-town life in ways that feels oddly familiar even if Dillon is an unlikely character in your life.
There there’s Tim Riggins. Where would this show be without Tim Riggins? The beer-drinking, hard-working fullback with a heart of gold is the most iconic character on the show. (Though Coach and Mrs. Coach are up there as well.) Every time Riggins graces the television screen, whether on the football field, in his scenes with Lyla Garrity (you just want them to be together), or in his beloved pickup truck tossing his college books out the window, he is the emotional core the show. (Though Zach Gilford in the season four episode “The Son” takes the prize for best single acting performance in one episode.) I expect these characters and the many more who we have fallen in love with to be given a proper send off.
While I am sad this season is the last, I am grateful for the DirecTV/NBC deal, which saved FNL from cancellation and allows us loyal fans to get two doses of FNL each year, even after the Dillon Lions play their last game this fall.
The great thing about having a six week break in between semesters is that I get to sit around my house and do nothing except read and watch movies or tv for pleasure. The bad thing is that I always end up loving some tv show that I didn’t before and then end up following it during the semester which means I’ll end up spending more time watching tv than doing my schoolwork.
This break I’ve already watched every episode of How I Met Your Mother and most of The Sopranos. But in the past three-four days I’ve become completely obsessed with Friday Night Lights. It’s one of the only good things NBC has going for it right now. So the NBC execs should really stop screwing over this amazing show and figure out a way for a larger audience to watch FNL.