In the sixteenth episode of the first season of Friday Night Lights, Coach Mac’s comments continue to have disastrous effects as Julie also lashes out at her parents. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
Lord, this show.
If Landry wasn’t so adorable about his inability to ever give good advice, he’d probably be annoying. But I find him charming in this gloriously misguided kind of way. He’s not even close to reality in any sense, and his suggestions for how he should win Julie’s good favor are all terrible. Terrible! Smelling like Julie’s dad??? Buying her a diamond ring? Landry, what planet did you grow up on? Oh god, I can’t hate him because he is totally that kid that tries really hard but never fits in. Well… shit, neither does Tyra. Wow, I never really realized how they’re both at the opposite ends of the social spectrum, yet they share this in common.
Anyway, Matt spends a great deal of time in this episode trying to win Julie’s affections. He gets sidetracked from doing so multiple times, and he even gets arrested while doing so. DEDICATION. I appreciated that Matt was willing to go through the effort of impressing Julie, of showing her that he really wanted her back in his life. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to downplay her feelings once in this episode. (At least that I could tell.) He understood why she was upset, and he didn’t belittle her for her. So giving her a necklace with her birthstone in it was a sweet gesture, and it seems that things are good in the Matt/Julie camp. HALLELUJAH. My only hope is that Julie stops treating her parents so poorly. And look, I personally don’t like the way that Tami speaks about strippers. I think it’s the first thing she’s said that I universally reject of hers. So I don’t want to condone that opinion, but I also don’t want to say that it’s perfectly fine for Julie to be rude to her mom and dad when they’re trying to trust her more and let her grow up as she wants. It’s complicated, I know that, but we’ll have to see if Tyra is still in the picture.
Well, it’s happening now. Jason is going off to Austin for two weeks, and he’s either going to make the team and head to Beijing, or he’ll have to return back to life in Dillon and get his GED. I’m well aware of what high stakes these are. This is a life-changing decision, y’all! God, I really hope Jason’s making the right choice. Actually… scratch that. That’s probably not the best way to look at this. Jason is doing what he feels as right to him. He wants a future playing quad rugby because it makes him happy, and I’d never want to take that away from him. Good for you, Jason.
I swear, I almost typed “Coach Mac n Cheese” just now. Well, now I want to eat that.
On a serious note, I wanted to bring up something that multiple characters say in “Black Eyes & Broken Hearts” that rubbed me the wrong way. Nearly every white character made it a point to say that Coach Mac “wasn’t racist.” This is a very common phenomenon, one you’ll see a lot because, as I said earlier this week, there’s apparently nothing more terrible than calling someone a racist. It doesn’t matter that what Coach Mac said was horribly racist. It’s as if these people believe that you must be a card-carrying member of the KKK and burning crosses to somehow qualify as being a racist. Which is an absurd dichotomy once you think about it! If that’s the standard we’re holding people to, then what about people like Coach Mac? Did they just say something “foolish” and “unfortunate”? Was it just a “mistake”? Language is important here because for all the shit people say about “PC” terminology, white people go to great lengths to come up with cushy euphemisms to disavow people of their racism. They’re from “a different time.” They belong to a “rebel heritage.” They love their “ancestry.” They “misspoke.” (Which… lord, y’all don’t even know what that words means. Misspeaking is when you say the wrong things from what you intended. Coach Mac very much intended to refer to black players as “junkyard dogs” because that’s what he believed.
I am a big fan of calling things what they are, to expose racism out in the open because people hide behind attempts to neutralize such behavior. Coach Mac is racist, absolutely. Most of you probably are, too. You’re not a terrible person because of it. We’ve all been raised in a white supremacist, violently racist society here in the United States. (I’ll keep my mouth shut about non-U.S. race relations because that is a quick way for me to be a bigot. The world is not centered around the U.S.A.) This environment has predisposed people towards being prejudiced towards people of color, and that’s only exacerbated when it intersects with other minority identities and lives. So, no, Coach Mac is definitely a racist.
Where this episode takes this story is satisfying on a different level, though. The writers highlight the difficulty in trying to change an entire culture in a matter of days. I knew the players would receive a lot of heat for what they were doing. That didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was Smash’s mother. I’m reminded of what Leo McGarry said in “Celestial Navigation,” which I just reviewed on Tuesday. You don’t argue with a drunk or a fool. It’s Smash’s mother who gives Smash the direction and insight he needs. He is right to stand up to Coach Mac, but there is a time and a place for what he is doing. She can recognize wasted time when she sees it. Her Million Man March reference is spot on, too! The black players drew attention to their cause, but they weren’t going to change the hearts and minds of the people of Dillon in just a few days. And I loved the fact that she made this positive for Smash, to give him an outlet to confront degrading opinions like Coach Mac’s by being better than his racist expectations. Y’all, I love Smash’s mom SO MUCH. I wish she was in every single episode, I swear.
The Final Game
All of this leads to the game that ends this episode. Smash brings his players back, and just in time, too. BECAUSE HOLY SHIT, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT GAME? Dunston Valley is just… how do you describe that? I know enough about football to know that facemasks, pass interference, and that shitty hit in the endzone after Smash scored are all NOT ALLOWED EVER. EVER! What the fuck, y’all, WHAT IS HAPPENING. Given how upsetting these past two episodes were, I WAS SURPRISED THAT THIS WAS EVEN WORSE THAT EVERYTHING BEFORE IT. Sweet potato babies, what a trainwreck. Like, this town cares so much about football that they cheat during the game, they pelt the Dillon panthers with popcorn just for following the rules, and then TWO COPS TRY TO ARREST SMASH OVER A FUCKING FOOTBALL GAME. Y’all, I’m happy this show is engaging the idea that football culture is super messed up, but I’m so disturbed by this. I don’t even doubt that this is something that happens in real life. In the end, though, it’s Coach Mac (of all people!!!) who steps up to defend his team. I got the sense that he knew he’d done wrong when he tried to resign earlier in the episode, but his actions spoke louder to me. He knew he had to start winning the trust of these people back because he’d severed that connection in a overwhelming way. Admitting to Smash that the police officers did the same thing he did? Jesus, that’s a good first step, Coach Mac. That’s the only way this is going to get better for the team. Oh boy, I can’t believe how close I am to finishing this season. IT’S SO INTENSE.
Mark Links Stuff
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
– I have announced what the next books I am reading on Mark Reads will be, as well as updated y’all on the events, cons, tour dates, GOING TO EUROPE OH MY GOD, and general shenaniganry going on in my life. I have a similar post up on Mark Watches, detailing the next two shows I’m doing as well as the return of Double Features, and I finally explain what happened with my Vimeo account. Check these posts out!
– Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
– Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!