Sunday, May 3, 2009

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights is based on the book by H. G. Bissinger. The book is about a real team and school in Permian, Texas, while the show fictionalizes the setting in the town of Dillon.

This is a good show - not great (a bit too soap opera-ish at times), but relaxing and fun to watch, with engaging characters and story lines. The football scenes are too melodramatic (as you'd expect from any Hollywood portrayal), but the examination of sports' role in small town life is reminiscent of Hoosiers and seems not only American but human (I'm thinking here of the civic pull of soccer/cricket/NASCAR in different parts of the world) in terms of its thematic import.

The most interesting character, for me, is Coach Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler). The story lines are good in that they show him balancing the ups and downs of three major aspects of life: his career, his marriage, and his children. He is a bit earnest and overly-heroic at times (particularly in terms of his serving as a role model to the players), but he's also rounded-out in terms of his struggles with career ambition (I'm thinking here of the subplot in which he desparately wants to coach at a D-1 school) and some of his tensions with his wife and daughter.

After Googling "Friday Night Lights," I've come across this Sports Illustrated list of the 5 best sports books of all time:
  1. The Sweet Science, by A.J. Liebling
  2. The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn
  3. Ball Four, by Jim Bouton
  4. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger
  5. You Know Me Al, by Ring Lardner

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