Friday Night Lights first aired in the fall of 2006, exactly one month before my second child was born. I can’t claim that I missed the episode, or the entire series, because I was busy raising my two kids or the next two kids who came in subsequent years. I missed it because I was watching other popular shows at the time, like Lost, Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty and another show that aired around that time called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (perhaps I was alone with that last one).
I also skipped FNL back then because I didn’t think I would like a show about football. I’m sure I had other reasons, but they don’t matter now because I’ve spent the last month binge-watching all five seasons, and I’m here to say that all the hype about the show was true. It was the best series airing in the second half of the aughts, and though there were many football scenes, the show is character-driven at the core, with much to say about friendship, marriage, community and spirit.
I should feel guilty about spending so many precious summer hours watching the fictional Coach Eric Taylor and sometimes-counselor, sometimes-principal Tami Taylor guide the lives of various fictional teens through the grit of life. But I don’t feel guilty, because I actually accomplished many tedious tasks in the month that I kept the show running in the background (and sometimes the foreground) of my life.
What is my point? Anyone can justify binge watching a series! Look at what I accomplished in the four weeks it took me to watch the five seasons:
1. I packed the two big kids for sleepaway camp.
2. I cleared the two big kids’ closets of any clothes that were too short or too tight and stored them in bins for the younger two.
3. I learned that I could tolerate a football game if I cared about the players, and I learned quite a bit about football.
4. I transcribed dozens of essay ideas from the notebook that lives in my purse to a document on my computer, and I organized those ideas by category.
5. I discovered that watching video on my phone, but not with Wi-Fi, eats up an entire data plan in a few hours and spouses sharing that plan don’t find it amusing.
6. I typed all the quotes I’d highlighted in books over the past year into an ongoing document I keep on my laptop.
7. I learned that all gorgeous TV hair before Connie Britton’s TV hair was only mediocre TV hair.
8. I deleted all the repetitive or poorly shot photos on my phone and my computer from the past 12 months, uploaded the good ones onto Shutterfly and ordered prints. (This took an entire season, no exaggeration. I will need another series to put those prints in an album.)
9. I cleaned up my Twitter account, which took almost another season.
10. I came up with a potential idea for a nonfiction book and wrote the chapter headings.
11. I felt the meaning of “Texas Forever” as if I possessed the spirit of a true Texan rather than the spirit of someone who has only called various Midwestern cities home.
12. I learned that clear eyes and full hearts can’t lose. And I believe it.