In Which the Men and Women of Dillon Texas Get The Stage Just This Once

Are You Sure You Shouldn’t Be Watching This Show?

by A.C. Hawley

Friday Night Lights

developed for television by Peter Berg

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Friday Night Lights (read: that title evokes no memories or symbolism for you), the show is about a high school football team from the fictional town of Dillon, TX where, apparently, high school football is a huge deal.

(This is also the case around much of the country as well, but I seriously don’t know. I only went to one high school football game in my life and that was in college because I was bored on a Friday Night.

My pinko commie high school didn’t have a football team nor school spirit. There was a pep rally when I was a junior. There was the school mascot, dancing around. This senior threw his shoe at it and hit it in the head. When that is the best part of the pep rally, you know you are dealing with little school spirit.)

The characters are all in some way affiliated with the football team whether they are the coach’s daughter (Julie Taylor), a cheerleader (Lyla Garrity), a team booster (Buddy Garrity), a girlfriend (Tyra Collette), or a hanger on (Landry Clarke). I swear, the show’s not as boring as that may make it seem.

Save the cheerleader, save some shitheel town in Texas.

As every week builds from the previous, we are first welcomed by the image of Tim and Jason. Last week’s episode began with them rolling down the road from Dillon to the Mexican Border. The two youths have different reasons for going to Mexico.

Jason wants to get out of his wheelchair, Tim just wants really cheap beer and chicks.

Tim Riggins and Jason Street are on again, off again friends. Things have changed immensely between the two of them. While they used to be jovial with one another, Jason has tried to find purpose while Tim has drank and fucked his way into an oblivion. Also, I should note that Riggins slept with Lyla when she was still engaged to Jason.

After what I guess is a week of boozing, getting arrested for trying to bribe Mexican cops (I didn’t think that could happen either) and singing karaoke at a Mexican bar (they don’t go to school. They play football; they don’t have to go to school), Jason finally meets with the doctor who says that he is going to inject the stem cells of a shark into the legs of Jason.

jabberjaw and the new pornographers

I didn’t think that sharks could walk. I know Jabberjaw can, but he also plays the drums in a 60s pop band and solves crimes. So, I’m going to take his believability with a grain of salt. Tim thinks that this is a scam and rightfully so. Following his hunch, he attempts to enlist the help of Lyla to convince Jason not to get the surgery done.

Moving on…Eric Taylor, beloved coach of the 2006 State Champion Dillon Panthers, is chilling out, calling a game at his new job at TMU when he gets a phone call. The call is from Buddy Garrity, telling Taylor that he had run Coach McGregor a/k/a Coach McAss (I told you. Fan boy) out of town due to the fact that he almost killed Riggins during practice and kept losing games by running too much (as anyone who plays football knows, it’s about balance). By the end, McGregor confronts Taylor about his sabotage job, a humanizing move for a man who seemed almost robotic.

Most of the controversy surrounding Coach Taylor involved his daughter Julie. With a new child in the house, Julie has been feeling abandoned to put it lightly.


Like most people who feel abandoned, Julie has rebelled, dumping her stuttering yet sweet boyfriend Matt Saracen and running into the arms of an older guy (read: over 21) whose name is Anton but is more commonly referred to as “The Swede” even though the guy clearly looks Latino. I know Swedes have a tan complex, but, seriously, this dude’s not even remotely Swedish in appearance. Her parents know about this and tried to caution her out of it because, like anyone can tell you, it’s dumb, but that just made her want to do it more. Remember, she’s edgy and rebellious!

Saracen is the quarterback for Dillon, who led them to the State Championship after Jason went down with the paralysis. He takes care of his crazy grandmother, and his pops is in Iraq. I believe his mother is dead or abandoned him, it was never made particularly clear. Regardless, Saracen’s pretty awesome.

Go deep

Anyway, in this episode, Julie has to learn how to drive, so she goes out with her dad as teacher. They are almost killed. She goes out again with her mom, and she doesn’t do much better. Julie’s not a very good driver, but her mom, instead of telling her that, tells her that The Swede doesn’t actually love her through a fairly graphic tale about her own youth. As we would find out later upon arriving at Casa de Swede, which is about as clean as my college house was with just as much paraphernalia sitting in plain sight. He needed to change his bong water. Badly.

Julie’s mom is, along with being the hottest MILF ever, completely right about The Swede not loving her back, and Julie runs home crying. While this happened, I kept hearing “I’ll Come Running” by Brian Eno in my head.

When I wasn’t hearing Brian Eno, I was hearing Neil Young’s “Down By The River” every time Tyra and Landry appeared on screen. In what has to be one of the strangest pairings of all-time, Tyra and Landry are now bonded together in love through murder. Yes, murder. Neil Young pops up because they dumped the body in the river. This is possibly one of the most unbelievable love stories of all-time, and that includes considerations from every romantic comedy ever made.

The first time that our murderous duo appeared on screen, they were eating dinner with Landry’s parents. Landry’s dad (btw: he’s a cop) gets a call about a dead body being found in the river. Immediately, Tyra and Landry go into panic mode.

“Down By The River” — Neil Young (mp3)

“I’ll Come Running” — Brian Eno (mp3)


There was a fantastically well done sequence of Tyra and Landry in the town coffee shop, hanging out with their respective friends while staring across the room at each other because cops were there. It was gripping when the cops began to approach Landry. The tension was broken when they asked Matt, Landry’s only real friend, about why the football team sucks (answer: it’s the coach).

“Sexual Healing (live)” — Ben Harper (mp3)

“Title and Registration (live)” — Ben Gibbard (mp3)

“Sandpaperback” — Ben Lee (mp3)


The other important detail in this story comes up when the police summon Tyra’s presence. It is about the murder, but it’s about the previous rape case that was still open from last year.

(Tyra was almost raped in the first season. She was almost raped again this season, but Landry killed for her honor. It’s sweet of him, and he probably would get off in a court of law. But, apparently, he doesn’t know that. Anyway, Landry has long had a thing for Tyra. He was getting in well with her, but the murder brought them close together and led to them boning…I think.)

Here, Tyra identifies the man as her attacker and was told that he was wanted in three states. As Tyra is consoled by her mother, Papa Clarke walks by the window and see her there, smeared eyeliner and all. I can only imagine that they will attempt to turn this into a Romeo & Juliet type plot line (Landry will no longer be able to see Tyra, but it is their destiny to be together), but I am known to be wrong from time to time.

You can watch full episodes of Friday Night Lights here.

With that last passing glance, this week in Dillon has ended. What’s up next? I can’t tell you. I can only hope that it involves Smash on their end and Cherry Smash on mine.

Cherry Smash is a soda only really found in Washington, D.C. It’s made by Rock Creek Soda, who also make legit pineapple and lime sodas. It doesn’t really taste like cherries, but it also only cost a dollar for a 2 liter. So, you can’t expect too much. It is a personal favorite of many.

A.C. Hawley is a West Virginia-based cultural critic and commentator. Born in Washington, D.C., he cultivated his sense of cynicism and self-mockery while traveling along D.C.’s bevy of diagonal state avenues and at the communist breeding ground that is Oberlin College. His blog is He can be reached at acisnoone at gmail dot com.


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