Why do so many of us gush about Friday Night Lights, even though the vast majority of television viewers don’t know what they’re missing?

It’s not the football, Lord knows — how many last-minute wins are there in that sport anyway? (Cardinal fans everywhere are weeping, I know. Sorry…)

And it can’t just be us Austinites, although it’s fun to live in a town where a show is being filmed and the cast can be seen everywhere. K, for instance, has played drop-in ice hockey with Taylor Kitsch, who plays the hearthrob bad boy Tim Riggins. (She said he was pretty good.) Anyway, Austin isn’t that big a town, and a lot of people don’t tune in.

So here’s what they are missing — for a television drama about football it’s a remarkable saga about Coach Eric Taylor and his wife, Tami Taylor, who this season is now the principal of Dillon High (and known to fans of the show as Mrs. Coach). They have the best husband-and-wife portrayal on television since…since… ever.

Ever since the Honeymooners, television has always painted the spousal relationship in broad strokes. Friday Night Lights catches the nuances and complexity of marriage. Eric and Tami butt heads pretty often but their relationship is so strong and it is never caricatured.

Since the show is about high school football, most of the storylines revolve around the students and athletes, all played by actors in their twenties, but that’s television for you. Last season the whole thing got overwrought — plenty of hot n heavy sex, a murder, flight to Mexico — and pretty silly. The only thing that redeemed it was the Taylors’ relationship.

This season the show is back on an even keel, and the storylines are less fantastic and more realistic. This does not equal boring, however.  There’s a new quarterback in town, for instance. A lesser show would make this kid out to be the villain, ready to take noble Matt Saracen’s position and leave him sitting on the bench. Instead, in a few brief scenes we find out that the kid’s maybe got some problems of his own.

The writing is always compelling, the acting sure-footed. You don’t have to like football to enjoy the series. Just tune in for Tami and Eric.


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