the wonderful world of veena.

02 October 2013

tv binge-a-thon: friday night lights.

"I completely love the fact that when you binge watch a series you live it"
-my dear friend Sastri who knows me entirely too well

My name is Veena, and I love binge-watching television shows.

Phew, I'm glad I got that out of my system.

So, Friday Night Lights. I've been hearing rave reviews of the show for a number of years, but having read the book and seen the 2004 movie adaptation, I figured I didn't need to see a show also. How very, very wrong I was.

When the show originally aired, I was in India. A number of American and British shows air semi on-time in India, but as you can imagine, American football is not very popular on the subcontinent, so this was not one of those shows. At the time it aired, I didn't know many people who were watching it in real-time, but I was constantly reading articles online of how the fans kept clamoring to bring the show back from the brink of cancellation.

I'd forgotten about it for a few years until earlier this summer when Nathan Jesson and I were compiling our 64-team bracket to determine the Greatest Sports Movie of All-Time [debate still ongoing]. The movie adaptation was included in the list, and when we decided to watch it in late May, I mentioned to Nathan and his brother that I had not watched the television show. And you wouldn't believe the looks they gave me. Absolute incredulity. Nathan assured me that I would definitely love it, so I was intrigued.

When I was back in Memphis, I watched the first few episodes on Netflix and found it intriguing. And then I housesat for Walker & Joe for 2 weeks and took full advantage of their Netflix to watch a few more episodes. And then a few more. And then a whole season. Before I knew it, I had completed all 5 seasons of the show in approximately 10 days [in between which I wrote my final Capstone paper for school and sorted out a few other odds-and-ends as well].*

I obviously loved it. Just as Nathan Jesson said I would.

I loved the drama. I loved Coach Taylor. I loved Tami Taylor. I loved the football. I loved most of the characters. I loved the stories. I really loved nearly all of it. And above all I loved Tim Riggins.

It's one of those shows that just sucks you in. It's got such great heart, and you get attached to and invested in nearly every one of the characters. Every time Tim screws up, you shake your head, because you saw it coming and you know he's better than that. Every time Tyra chooses a stupid guy, you shout at her for not respecting herself more and knowing she deserves better. Every time Julie hurts Matt, your heart breaks a little for him, because he's dealing with so much and he's just so damn sweet. Every time Vince acts out, you find it difficult to hold in your frustration, because you know he's going through a lot but you also see how far he's come. All the characters have their ups-and-downs, and I ran the gamut of loving and hating nearly all of them.

And the characters are really the heart of the show. This raggedy bunch from small-town Texas who are just trying to make something of their lives. I love how the show exposes their vulnerabilities and makes them real people. I know some of the storylines are stretched [let's not even get into all that business from season 2], but they somehow still remain believable.

You can see the similarities between some of the characters in the book / movie and the characters in the show. Tim Riggins is like Danny Billingsley. Matt Saracen is similar to Mike Winchell. Jason Street and Smash Williams both have characteristics or story lines similar to Boobie Miles. It's not exact, which I liked, but still somewhat true enough to the original story.

Since I had my marathon viewing of the show back in June, both Dylan and Britney have also watched it in its entirety [Nathan Jesson has some mad persuasive skills] and loved it. Bee even admitted she almost likes football now. Catherine and Drew are currently watching it. And any other friends I've spoken to who have seen it have loved it, too. It's pretty universal that way.

So if anyone out there is still yet to watch it, check it out on Netflix. I promise you won't be disappointed.

oh, and clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

*In my [not very strong] defense, only the first season is a full 24 episodes. The 2nd season was cut short due to the writer's strike [and thank goodness, because it was definitely the worst of the lot], and seasons 3-5 had between 12 and 15 episodes. I feel like that makes it not quite as depressing. Right?

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