Lorrie Moore on Friday Night Lights


1 August 2011

I loved reading Lorrie Moore‘s piece in the New York Review of Books about “Friday Night Lights”; but I’d say she needs to read the blogs more before claiming FNL as a “solitary, isolated” guilty pleasure.  (Oh, my Lord – did I just make a plug for social networking?)

Moore and I agree about cleavage volume and Lyla Garrity’s (Minka Kelly) dismissability, along with Kyle Chandler‘s sublime acting. But I can’t quite get with viewers, Moore included, who fixate on the character Tim Riggins.  Don’t get me wrong: Taylor Kitsch nails this character; he is compelling and complex and beautiful (the hair, the hair).  But for me, it’s all about Matt Saracen; I could watch Zach Gilford on screen, with his nervous doe eyes, sage-yet-clumsy earnestness, and periodic manly resolve for hours.  The episode for which he was nominated for an Emmy – in which his father, a soldier in Iraq, dies – was truly award-worthy; but another (preceding) episode I think surpassed it: Matt’s rage simmers (Julie has dumped him, his rebound lover has dumped him, he’s lost his QB spot to a prick freshman, his grandmother’s dementia increases, Coach Taylor has taken a college coaching job), then boils over, then Coach Taylor corners him (in Matt’s own house) to set him straight.  Drenched and crumpled in the bathtub after Coach shoves him in there to cool him off, he sobs, “Why does everyone abandon me?  What’s wrong with me?”  It sounds bathetic as I describe it, but it’s one of those things you just have to see; especially after knowing Matt’s even-keeled character for three years.

The last paragraph of Moore’s piece is hilarious (her humor is sprinkled throughout, but she lets it loose at the end):

The people I was speaking with mostly wanted to discuss the character Tim Riggins, played by Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch heaven! Lyla Garrity was a dismissible minx. Tyra Collette, who runs for class president by saying, “Nobody here is getting laid if you let Ginny here have the prom in the gym,” had distracting hairdo instability. The girls in general held less interest, and the coach’s new baby Graciebelle held the least of all. (According to Jason Katims in the DVD commentary, Graciebelle is portrayed by a toddler who is one of “three twin sisters,” a remark that certainly gives one pause.)

(“Distracting hairdo instability” and “three twin sisters” had me laughing all afternoon.)

I’ve spilled an awful lot of ink over FNL; well at least I’m in good company.  Lorrie Moore!  The New York Review of Books!


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