For most of us being a teenager involves unsuccessfully trying to grow a moustache, unsuccessfully trying to fit in and unsuccessfully trying to score with chicks. For high school football players though… it's probably the best time of their life.
Being a teenager can be tough. What with homework, exams, raging hormones and spontaneous boners there's not much more that can go wrong - except for having the hopes and dreams of an entire town resting on your shoulders of course.
Everyone loves the atmosphere of a packed football stadium, but if you don't live in a large city with a pro football team then what are you supposed to do? For the people of towns like Odessa, Texas, apparently the next best thing is to watch a group of pubescent teenagers do a significantly worse version of the same thing.
To most sane people it's the equivalent of choosing to watch two Limp Bizkit fans backyard wrestling in a parking lot instead of watching UFC, but apparently for a lot of people across America it's a suitable alternative.
Friday Night lights began life as a book written by H.G Bissinger. Intrigued by the phenomena of high school football he set out to document what was supposed to start out as a heartwarming tale of a high school football teams triumphant season (possibly involving a football playing labrador that scores the winning touchdown in the dying seconds).
Unfortunately - for the town of Odessa and Permian High School at least - he actually ended up writing a book exposing the corruption and racism present in small town middle America... which I like to assume he did using a large novelty cowboy hat with a video camera concealed in it to collect the evidence.
"Howdy ma'am... the name's I.N Cognito."
After the book came out the Permian Panthers where investigated and banned from entering that years playoffs, and as you might expect Mr. Bissinger got regular visits from angry overweight Texans sporting 20 year old high school championship rings. Whether or not they drove up to his house in the back of a Ford truck waving pitchforks can neither be confirmed or denied.
"So what's the big deal? It was only a book... and books are for total nerds!" I hear you cry. Well folks, Hollywood is one step ahead of you and just in case the author hadn't rubbed enough salt into the wounds of high school football they went ahead and made a movie out of it.
The movie was essentially a dramatisation of the book and in true Hollywood fashion cast a bunch of twenty-somethings to play high school kids.
Billy Bob Thornton was cast as a no nonsense coach and the movie also features a character called James "Boobie" Miles, a nickname that unless you were a high school football star would no doubt place you on a strict diet of beat downs and ritual humiliation.
I can think of at least two things wrong with this guy's nickname...
The film basically involves angry parents, troubled teens and hot cheerleaders. Basically like my own school days, except replacing hot cheerleeders for chess club.
Friday Night Lights is also particularly notable for it's awesome soundtrack. The main theme was written by Texas post-rockers Explosions in the Sky and the almost anthem like use of 'New Noise' by Refused forever changed the face of crappy Youtube high school football pump up montages.
The movie was very similar to the book. Boobie *chuckle* and co. were still
The movie was such a critical and commercial success that it wasn't long before the good people in TV land decided to make a show out of it.
At some point however someone must have decided to give Odessa a break from portraying it as a racist Texan backwater decided to move the setting to a fictional town of Dillon, Texas and the Dillon Panthers High School football team. Unfortunately though they kept the name of the show the same so everyone know exactly where 'Dillon' is really supposed to be.
Now, for anyone who grew up watching sports movies - including FNL - you know that the highlight of the movie is ultimately the 'big match' at the end of the movie that the whole damn thing is leading up to. Of course, with a TV show it would get pretty boring and formulaic doing the same thing every week (think 90% of sitcoms ever) so the writers decided to spice up the football scenes with the everyday trials and tribulations of the players such as homework, cutting class, dating... and accidentally murdering someone.
No murdering until you've finished your homework!
The coach of the Dillon Panthers is one Coach Eric Taylor who basically runs around shouting "Get off my damn field!" to anyone who annoys him. He still looks as sullen and stressed out as good old Billy Bob but he also likes to wear a baseball cap and a pair of shorts at all times.
Dillon, Texas also seems to be a town with a higher percentage of hot chicks than any other place on Earth and the only thing stopping me from buying a one way ticket there is the fact it doesn't exist (trust me, I've Google Earthed it to be sure).
Dammit I knew I should have played football instead of joining the Dungeons & Dragons club!
At time of writing Friday Night Lights is still going strong and it also happens to be one of the best shows on TV. So for all of you reading this, stop watching reruns of Two and Half Men and watch this instead so it doesn't get cancelled.