Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’ / Q&A

Crying Because Friday Night Lights: My Autobiography

Good god.

  • I didn’t know what to expect from the movie, especially given that it was supposed to follow H.G. Bissinger’s nonfiction book more closely than the show did. Plus, what if it was too similar? How was I going to enjoy it if I already knew what happened?
  • Here’s the thing: The show is better, but that’s largely because we got 5 seasons worth of stories. There’s more time spent on the plot, on developing characters, on exploring nuance and detail. It’s not necessarily a fair comparison. And yet? THE MOVIE IS SO FUCKING GOOD.
  • And it’s Garrett Hedlund!!! And Jay Hernandez, who I have had a crush on since the beginning of crushes.
  • Oh no, it’s Lee Thompson Young. 🙁 Bless his heart, he was so talented. 🙁
  • There are, of course, similarities between the show and the movie, but in all honesty, they mostly come down to tone and style. This movie feels like the show, even though the context of the story isn’t quite the same. Obviously, the music, mostly by Explosions in the Sky, was later imitated by W.G. Snuffy Walden rather brilliantly. (OH MY GOD, REFUSED’S “NEW NOISE.” SO PERFECT. SO SO SO SO PERFECT.) The filming style is very similar for the most part, as was the decision to focus on the little dramas that each of these characters carry with them. Boobie Miles was like a combination of Jason Street and Smash Williams. (I realize the movie came first, so you’ll have to excuse the tense there.) You could draw parallels between Mike Winchell and Matt Saracen, or Chris Comer and Landry Clarke, and Coach Gaines and Coach Taylor initially seem kind of the same. Kind of. Without the depth of the show, though, this movie really does feel like it’s own entity, which is awesome!
  • WHO ELSE WAS TERRIFIED OF CHARLES BILLINGSLY? BECAUSE HOLY SHIT. I didn’t know Tim McGraw was such a good actor????
  • No, but seriously y’all, Derek Luke stole the show. His character development over the course of just two hours was INCREDIBLE. I can see why Peter Berg created Smash Williams to explore this archetype of football again because there is so much potential! I was thankful that this wasn’t the same story either. What happens to someone whose entire identity is formed around sports when that’s taken away? Derek reacts with arrogance, then anger, and then we get that absolutely heart-wrenching scene where he breaks down crying to his father and GODDAMN IT, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS MADE ME CRY AGAIN. This show is never going to let me go, is it? NOPE.
  • I do have one major complaint: Not a single woman is developed in the movie. The show is a billion times better than that. Seriously, Sharon Gaines has like ten lines. WHY WOULD YOU WASTE CONNIE BRITTON? I’m so glad the showrunners decided that Tami Taylor wouldn’t be the same.
  • I think that due to the medium/length, a lot of this movie felt way, way more brutal than show. It’s more violent (look at all the blood-stained jerseys during the state championship!) and grim at times, and THAT ENDING WAS SO UNEXPECTED. Holy shit, I was convinced that the Panthers would win state! Good god, why must everything hurt all of the time?
  • The acting was universally great, as was the soundtrack. I can see why Berg didn’t want to let this world go, and I’m so thankful he didn’t. I’m curious how Friday Night Lights feels when you re-watch it, and I wish I had the time to do so. Basically, this movie just proved to me that I’m in denial about it being over. I can’t imagine a world without more FNL in it, and yet, now I have to.
  • I’m going to miss Coach Taylor so much. I thought Billy Bob Thornton was utterly fantastic as Gaines, and I loved the chance to see him try to connect with his players like Coach Taylor did. At the same time, he was not the same character as Taylor, so I’m happy that the show decided to invent an entirely fictional team/world instead of basing it off the Permian Panthers.
  • Does this have to end? Can it not?

Let’s do our part to refuse to let it end. I’ve done a number of Q&A parties, but I haven’t had one since I finished Buffy last year, so let’s PARTY ON. I love the chance to look back on an entire series and reflect on it through your questions, so feel free to use this space to share fandom stuff I missed, behind-the-scenes info, and to ask all your burning Friday Night Lights questions. (For the record, I have seen the interview where Connie Britton re-enacts a scene as Tami Taylor, and I have also read the incredible Grantland oral history of the show.)

Again, I can’t thank y’all enough for getting me to watch this spectacular show. It is one of my very favorite things in the world, and I owe it to many of you for it ever ending up on my list of things to watch. Thank you. You are appreciated.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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