Friday Night Lights

Season 1 Episode 15


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 07, 2007 on The 101

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
203 votes
  • This is my first review of Friday Night Lights, so be gentle. I have reviewed a couple of other shows, and it seems like I review them only when I don’t agree with the other reviews. This is one of those cases.

    Overall, this is a great show, one that is unlike most shows on TV now. Maybe some HBO shows are in the same vein, but FNL is certainly unique. I think all of my favorite shows (Las Vegas, the Law and Order series, Studio 60, the Simpsons, Family Guy, The Sopranos, Scrubs, etc) are rated way too high by most fans. Not every episode of every series is the “Best Ever”, and too many of them are rated over 9. Because FNL is a superior series (conversely, Las Vegas is pretty bad but is a guilty pleasure) and the bar for FNL is set so high, a good rating for it should be in the 8 range, and only a really, really, really good episode should rate over a 9.

    And in my opinion, this week’s episode was below average. Again, not compared to other TV shows, but to its own high standards. My focus will be on the main subplot of Mac’s comments. The subplots of the Powder Puff game, and Lyla’s dad hitting on Tyra’s mom, and Tyra possibly being a bad influence on Julie were nicely done, and consistent with arcs for those characters in this serial.

    Now regarding the storyline about Mac’s comments to that reporter; it felt like FNL tried to force this storyline on us. I think the subject was a good idea to write, but it seemed poorly executed. (I am white, and trying to write this objectively). I saw no problems with Mac’s original comments. The “junk yard dog” comment may have been a fair comment. Really, does Matt Saracin look like he has the attitude and fire to be a running back? That’s not to say that Smash can’t be a QB. (I don’t see this as white v. black, but rather an aggressive personality v. a passive one.) The set-up was also done well with the fact that it was with a writer taking notes (and asking leading questions as if to “find” a story) who could tweak the actual words and generalize what she wanted to. In other words, if Mac said the same things in front of a camera, the possibility of skewing the comments as racist would have been lower (don’t get me wrong, with skillful editing, sound bites could be made to sound racist, too). This is TV, folks, and to this point in the series, Mac has not been portrayed as racist.

    But from that point, everything about this subplot seemed forced... like the series felt it needed to go from zero to 60 in 46 minutes. Waverly tried to convince Smash to be a vocal leader, when it wasn’t his interest. The scene in the diner when they saw the comments on TV and the black and white players chose sides. This seemed to be where the direction started to fail. We go from everybody at the diner having fun, and suddenly 20 seconds on TV polarizes everybody. I don’t think that Mac’s non-apology should have had that much of an impact. Other than some very subtle references, race and racism hasn’t been a main focus of the show, and now I am supposed to believe that some comments taken out of context divide the town. If the producers were going to arc this storyline, they should have planted a few scenes in previous episodes along the way. The scene at the bank where Mom was declined for a mortgage seemed too contrived. I, too, have been pre-approved for a loan, found the perfect house, then the financing fell through. It is absolutely heartbreaking, but Smash goes from being ambivalent about racial issues to ready to throw a fit in a bank. I like Mom bringing Smash under control, but the scene seemed forced (almost as if production said “OK, we need another example of Smash seeing racism where it may or may not exist”).

    At this point as I am watching this, I have stopped buying into the story and got frustrated with this plot (again, I reiterate that I don’t mind the plot, only that it was written and/or directed poorly and could have been done so much better). So Waverly laid on a guilt trip and Mom got denied for a mortgage, suddenly Smash does a 180 and – completely out of character – confronts Mac? Maybe if it wasn’t Smash… maybe if it was a different black player with whom we haven’t been introduced to (one written to have a chip on his shoulder or at least one that might have that conviction from the start), then it might have been better. Anyway, Smash confronts Mac and Mac says something stupid (this time, it was stupid) and Smash decides its time for action.

    Again, if it where a different black character it would have been better, but the plot line picked-up significantly when the black players had the meeting at church and then stood solid during practice. But it was how the story got to that point that I feel was poorly executed.

    I intentionally didn’t mention Mrs. Coach’s “dialogue” scene because it was so horrible and tacked on. It wasn’t needed, it didn’t say anything, and didn’t add anything to the story. Then the writers completely invalidated the scene when Mrs. Coach later says something about very few football players even attended. I don’t remember if a black student interrupted a black student or vice-versa, but suddenly the interruption has a racial connotation? Hell, these are high school kids. Life is all about interrupting each other. I can’t get through a full meal at home without my two teenagers interrupting ever comment someone makes (or conversely, not saying a word even when asked). If they really wanted this scene to work, a white student should have used an outright racial slur or a black student should have gotten in a white student’s face with a stereotype. It seemed – like the scene at the bank – where the producers said, “we need to show another escalation of the situation”. This scene could have been eliminated and nobody would have missed it. If the producers of FNL want to keep this a credible subject once this arc has played out in a couple of weeks, they need to continue to make racial tensions part of the series. If not, then the producers expect us to believe that a town can go from no real racial concerns, to a powder keg, and back to no real racial concerns over the course of a couple of days. Racial tensions in some cities – both in the north and south – are deep and lasting. Dillon, TX apparently has these tensions, and for the series to maintain credibility, the producers need to keep bringing it up. With each succeeding season, there are new players joining the team. Both white and black, they will come in with their own racial morals which come from their parents. Ending this story arc will not alleviate the attitudes of the entire town in perpetuity.

    Although I don’t think this was a great episode, I certainly look forward to how they producers will resolve this storyline.
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