In the third episode of the third season of Friday Night Lights, it’s sadness forever. Too much sadness. Sadness everlasting. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
You can’t ask me to do this. This isn’t fair. 🙁
There’s a distinct sadness in every story in “How the Other Half Lives,” hence the hyperbolic intro to this review. This is one of the more difficult episodes of the show to watch, especially because it’s emblematic of what Friday Night Lights has always been about: people trying to do good and survive in the world. That’s a large part of what Tim and Billy struggle with here, and it hurts to watch. Initially, I thought that Billy had gotten involved in selling drugs, but the reality was somehow weirder and more depressing.
But what struck me most about his story was that there was that shockingly raw moment where Billy begged Tim to help him out. I’d like to present this as evidence that the social roles we expect people to fill because of their perceived gender can hurt men in various ways. All these asshole men’s rights activist believe that it’s horrible that the vestiges of the patriarchy are slipping away from them, and yet while they’re shrieking about feminazis and misandry online, they lack the ability to see how the very world they want to keep hurts them. Billy resorts to copper wire theft because, as a man, he is expected to provide for his new family. The gender roles he’s been raised with make him feel inadequate and less of a man, and he can’t even bring himself to be honest with Mindy. And this is the world y’all dudebros want to keep around? Get out of my face.
I’d also like to state, for the record, that as someone who has spent most of his life being poor, I have entertained so many get-rich-quick schemes in my life, much like Billy does here. I’ve never pulled them off because ~hello anxiety~, but I’m curious if any of y’all who have been poor have done the same thing. I’M PRETTY SURE WE ALL DO IT.
Meanwhile, we see how the other half of this couple “lives.” Lyla’s struggle in this episode also deals with how others perceive her and what expectations she’s held to. Again, Buddy Garrity is a big pile of NOPE in “How the Other Half Lives,” especially when he’s pressuring his daughter about Tim. There isn’t anything wrong with being protective of one’s daughter in theory, but the way Buddy executes such things always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. First of all, HE’S NOT HELPING. He’s so obsessed with making things better for himself that he thinks his daughter should date someone who would make him look better. Dude, she’s not a business transaction.
Except then Tim’s off helping his brother break the law, and there’s that damning cut where Lyla tells her father that Tim isn’t what he thinks Tim is, and then we go straight to him stealing. It’s humorous in one sense, but the truth is that Lyla is right. Tim isn’t what he’s perceived as, but the complicated nature of this situation makes it hard for Buddy or Lyla to see this.
I’m sad. I AM SO SAD.
As Matt gets closer to Julie (HUZZAH, I SUPPORT THIS!), we can’t forget why he’s finding solace in here. The McCoy empire is getting closer and closer to him. It’s terrifying. It’s upsetting, too, because MATT HAS DONE SO WELL THIS SEASON! But because the boosters and Buddy see money and attention in J.D. McCoy, they’d rather focus on him than on the same quarterback who helped them win state before. Given that Matt is nearly done with high school, it’s especially frightening to him.
But I did want to bring up the most surprising moment in any of Julie and Matt’s interactions: J.D. McCoy himself. He speaks for the first time in the show (that I can remember) by making a joke at his own expense while Matt and Julie are perusing his medals and trophies. I expected J.D. to tell the two of them that he was joking, but he says nothing, and his joke becomes less of one about himself and more about the pressure his parents put on him. It is the most subtle and brutal moment in the whole episode, and now I just want to know what the fuck is going on at the McCoy household???
Given this episode’s title, I’m happy that we get to see the same set of events from the perspective of Tami and Eric, and that we get a chance to meet Katie McCoy. At this point, I’d say that I trust Katie, as she doesn’t give off the same creepy, unsettling vibe that Joe McCoy gives off. Can I just state this definitively so that there’s no confusion here? I despise Joe McCoy. I don’t like one second of him. I hate the way he’s gotten Buddy Garrity on his side. I hate the way they all blindside Coach Taylor so they can try to make coaching decisions. I hate the fact that he’s moved into Dillon with his money and influence, and he makes no qualms about openly using those things to get what he wants.
And I really wanted to believe that Katie wasn’t playing Tami! I understood why Tami wanted the barbecue in the McCoy house, and I think this episode did a fine job of giving us the reasons why both the Taylors thought their own perspective was correct. That is why the end of this episode is so painful to watch. The devastating end to what was otherwise an extremely wonderful game for Matt Saracen has ramifications I didn’t expect. Those FOR SALE signs on the Taylor’s lawn? Y’all, that is so fucking heartless and brutal, and it reminds me of why I could never get into professional sports. I mean, we all spend time online talking about how this fandom is worse than another, but I’m pretty sure sports fandoms are literally the worst. Because of this loss, there’s going to be even more pressure on Coach Taylor to play J.D. His job security is basically gone, everything’s awful, and I may have cried a lot as the Taylors just sat on their bed, both of them well aware of how terrible the future was going to be.
Mark Links Stuff
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