Clear eyes, full hearts, uh….

Somehow, 4 seasons in, Friday Night Lights still has the power to reach into my soul and tear it in half. Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I just finished watching the first episode of the new season, and I was basically tearing up through the entire thing.

I think what I love so much about that show is its fearlessness in putting its main characters through hell. Sure, this could just be seen as a cynical ploy to get you to sympathize with, and like, them, but its more real than that. It treats the ups and downs of life not with reverence or disdain either one, but with the matter-of-factness with which we all have to go through life, at least those of us not on a TV show besides FNL. And in the process, it is also not afraid to make our most beloved characters look like assholes (is there really anything worse than seeing Matt Saracen as dejected, bitter and violent?). And why does it make us cheer on Riggins as he walks out of college about 2 seconds after he starts, and then melodramatically tosses the entire contents of his bookbag out his truck window on the highway? He’s a litterbug, a quitter, and an idiot, yet somehow we see why this decision makes sense to him, and in turn perhaps sympathize a little more with the yokels in real life who consistently vote conservative against their own best interests and cast as an insufferable commie elitist anyone with any intellectual aspirations. Never mind the fact that I can’t actually imagine Riggins ever voting for anything, one way or another, and therein perhaps you have the appeal.

The new season looks promising, with enough conflict and drama to pack an entire lesser series. The McCoys, naturally, are the villains de rigeur, which is a little bit regrettable. How much more compelling would that whole set-up be if they were even moderately sympathetic, as J.D. was throughout most of last season? Now he’s just another stereotyped caricature of a pompous, quarterback date rapist. Maybe he’ll gain back a little more nuance as the season wears on, but I’m not counting on it. Joe, well, with his golf cart and his evil smirk as all hell broke loose at the school assembly, will most definitely not be in line for any nuance, sympathy, or humanity, I’m afraid. But than again, that’s never why his character existed. But he was also never completely believable, and with a show that has such finely drawn and realistic characters, that seems like an almost lazy oversight on the part of the otherwise flawless writers. But I already miss the old characters, even though I’m looking forward to meeting the new ones. Watching this episode was more than a little bittersweet for me, and as much as I just wish maybe season 3 should have been the end of the line, I have a lot of hope and optimism for season 4. I know it’s just a resistance to change, but, like life, things can’t just stay the same all the time. I’m in it for the long haul, and Coach Taylor and Tami (Tammy?) need me, so I’ll be there for them. (Shut up; yes, they’re real people to me.)

And, can I also just say, Coach Taylor doesn’t look nearly as good in red as he does in blue. But maybe I’ll come around. Poor Coach Taylor. I think he might have engaged in some emotional eating over the summer, if you know what I mean.

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3 responses to “Clear eyes, full hearts, uh….

  1. I was thinking the same thing about the McCoys, particularly J.D., who really wasn’t a total douche last season. I actually kind of liked him. And I’m curious about Mrs. McCoy… what was her name? Did they get divorced after Joe’s violent episode? Speaking of Joe, his new haircut is stupid. Speaking of haircuts, Saracen’s slightly shaggier look is quite appealing.

    Also: Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

    clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE.
    Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
    Clear Eyes…..Full Hearts….Can’t Lose

    You think?

  2. I think what troubles me the most about the McCoy’s is the simple presence now of a “good vs. evil” dynamic in Dillon. Even in earlier seasons, when Buddy Garritty was the “bad guy,” he was still a bumbling, kind of sympathetic idiot whose heart was usually in the right place, even when he was being a douchebag, which made him much more realistic, and fatherly. It was often even the people around him who were portrayed as more cartoonish (i.e., his kids on that camping trip) to make him more sympathetic.

    And funnily enough, I was thinking the opposite of Riggins hair; it’s really pushing the acceptable limits for me. And are you loving the “possibly related posts?”

  3. I also had a lump in my throat for a lot of this episode. Overall I think it stands with the best single episodes the show has done, though I had some of the same reservations you did, mostly with the McCoys.

    One of season 3’s best moves was making JD a young, confused, generally sympathetic kid. He’s bigger and cockier now, but I think that’s a fairly natural progression for someone with his money, his talent and, most of all, his dad. (I think it’s significant that there’s no sign of his mom anywhere.) One of this show’s occasional problems has been left-field turns for its characters between seasons but, for the first episode at least, I was okay with this one (except for the needlessly literal “This is my town now” line, which has made me wince each of the times I’ve watched this episode).

    Joe is clearly our villain. And while the actor does a good job keeping him watchable, there is a lot about that character I don’t buy, either.

    One of the things that disappointed me about the end of the third season was how supportive people were about Saracen’s decision to stay in Dillon. His grandma should have told him to go, and so should have everyone else. I’m glad his storyline seems to be about what a terrible decision he made. I was also relieved that Billy was furious at Tim for leaving school. I like the notion of exploring the depressing nature of the post-high school lives of football stars.

    Incidentally, I think Taylor Kitsch has found his niche playing the lovable scamp (“Billy, tater me!”). He’s so much more convincing at this than he was playing Riggins as an alcoholic racist in the first season.

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