I think this five-year NBC series was one of the greatest shows ever, and thankfully it lives on in the binge world of Netflix for new generations to embrace all over again.

Photo by Google Images


Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

If there was ever a show I could relate to the most it would be “Friday Night Lights” because I love high school football and know how a community revolves around a local team from the outside and inside.

This is not my favorite show of all time, but it ranks up near the top because it’s about football and the life of high schoolers who are involved in the sport.

“Friday Night Lights” opened up a completely new perspective of football for me, and yes, I got clear eyes because of the enlightenment.

The show, which ran 2006-11 on NBC and lives forever with the viewing audience and high school football athletes everywhere, is based off the hit 2004 film about the Odessa Permian Panthers football season in 1988 and illustrates how crazy Texas is for football, especially the West Texas oil town of Odessa.

At the time, Permian was a powerhouse in football with five state championships and vying for their sixth.

The TV show “Friday Night Lights” takes place in the fictional Texas town, Dillon, and the premise and characters are similar to the movie.

What really got my attention is how just about everyone in the community is invested in the football program.

They support the Panthers like they’re in the NFL, which is a blessing and a burden because of the expectations put upon these teenagers.

I think the writers did a fantastic job capturing that perspective as well as the actors’ skill at portraying their characters.

In my opinion, the best actor out of the entire cast was Gaius Charles, who played Brian “Smash” Williams.

Smash was one of the best running backs in Texas, while at Dillon, and was always cocky, which wasn’t too appreciated by his coaches and teammates.

I liked how Smash was cocky, but he was also very caring for his family. He knew right from wrong and Charles was brilliant at portraying those traits.

However, my favorite character was Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), the quiet and reserved backup-turned-starting quarterback.

He’s considered to be an underdog because he’s quiet, lacks confidence and has to take care of his dementia-stricken grandmother.

It’s a bit of a love story regarding football because he comes in to replace the injured star quarterback and Coach Eric Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler) remodels Saracen into a winner.

That is one of the ultimate bright spots in the show and the crew was spot on with it.

Throughout the entire series, something bad always happened whenever things were looking up for someone, which is one of the reasons why the show was so popular.

It is considered to be a melodramatic show and just about everyone can relate to the dramas that were experienced throughout the five-year run of the show.

However, not everything about the show was great. Taylor, head coach of the Panthers, and his wife Tami (Connie Britton) appeared to be the only stable parents in town.

Tami is also principal of the school and she mentors not only their daughter, Julie, but also a whole community of young souls trying to live beyond their parents’ values.

The show had the ability to balance conflicting social politics elegantly while rejoicing teenage sexuality on the one hand, and creating the authority of traditional family on the other.

That’s great and all, but I’m not a fan of that, I would have preferred the show to continue focusing on football versus the melodrama of teen life.

It’s hard not to like Coach Taylor because he’s a family man who loves his players so much that he takes a huge chunk of his time to coach up Matt on the offensive playbook in the middle of the field at night, and then train Smash to get him ready to impress college coaches for potential scholarship offers.

Coach Taylor symbolizes what a true football coach is really like, or should be, a father figure and mentor who only wants his players to grow into good men.

I really got into “Friday Night Lights” during my freshman year in college just as I was starting to appreciate football and what it means to people in different communities other than St. Louis.

I regret that I didn’t get into the show when I was in high school because it would’ve been fun watching it and seeing if my classmates related to any of the characters, as well as all of my friends on the football team.

The show is still popular today and for good reason, because it involves football, high school social life, plus a parental point of view.

By John Hough

John Hough is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline, majoring in journalism. He has been a contributing writer for Riverbender.com in Alton, Ill. John is from St. Louis. He enjoys reading, traveling and covering local high school sports. After graduating, John would like to pursue a career in sports journalism and his dream job would be getting a position as a sports writer for the LA Times in Los Angeles.