Four Life Lessons from Friday Night Lights

By the end of December, I was in desperate need of a break.  My first semester of college—moving 1,000 miles away from home, meeting new friends, and seemingly endless studying for exams and final papers—was a total blur of fun and stress and excitement and nerves.  I flew home and was excited to finally relax with my family and friends from high school.  

During the surprising amount of downtime I suddenly had, I started searching for a new television show; I needed something interesting enough to hold my attention, but calm enough that I wasn’t going to be stressed out by it. Friday Night Lights popped up on my Hulu account, and within the first few minutes of episode one, I was hooked. Despite the fact that it originally aired over ten years ago, there was something familiar and homey about the show—  which takes place in a small, southern high-school-football-loving town much like my own. But beyond the sports aspect of the show, I instantly fell in love with the characters, all of whom seemed like genuine, kind, and real people.

I—along with my mom and brother, who joined me in my winter-break adventure—finished the show the last week of winter break, and I have since been reflecting on what I learned over the course of the wonderful 76 episode journey with the Taylors and all of the residents of Dillon (and later East Dillon), Texas.

  1. 1. Everyone is worthy of being a main character.

    One of the reasons Friday Night Lights was groundbreaking when it first aired in 2006 was the way it treated every character as a full and developed human.  The stereotypes each student is presented as in the first episode (the quarterback, the cheerleader, the drunk, the nerd, etc.) are quickly broken down over the course of the show, and some characters that start out in the background get their own storylines revealed over time.

  2. 2. High school friendships don’t have to end after high school.

    Watching as a college student who spends most of the year 900 miles from my high school besties, I was so excited by Friday Night Lights’ portrayal of life beyond high school in later seasons.  The show followed characters after they graduated and the above scene of Tim Riggins and Jason Street saying goodbye in New York perfectly captured the lesson that even when life throws people in different directions, friendship and memories can last forever.

  3. 3. You can be anything if you put your mind to it.

    One of my favorite characters on the show was Tyra; she transformed from a small-town girl in the first season, sure the rest of her life would be spent in Dillon, into a confident young woman who was determined to get into a good college.  Listening to her final college application essay was the first time I sobbed over the show. 

  4. 4. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

    No Friday Night Lights article is complete without Coach Eric Taylor’s favorite chant, which captures everything pure about the show.  Even if the Dillon Panthers/East Dillon Lions lose their football game of the week, they are united and bonded together by good intentions.

So, if you’re in need of some Southern accents, football references, and lovable characters, I highly recommend falling in love with Friday Night Lights like I did this break.

 

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