Why you should watch Friday Night Lights

Bookseller Marie Matteson tells us about the secret Readings Friday Night Lights fan club, and why she thinks you should join it.

A few years ago Lorrie Moore wrote a wonderful piece for The New York Review of Books about the television show Friday Night Lights. She spoke of finding herself at a party, heads together with two other authors, united in what had been a previously isolated love of a show easily dismissed.

I think this may be a universal experience for lovers of Friday Night Lights.

I’ve found myself in an eerily similar scenario at Readings. In a casual conversation with colleagues I will refer to Tami Taylor and heads will pop up across the shop. What usually follows is a slightly incoherent mutual love-fest and where it always ends is how best to describe our love of Friday Night Lights to others. How can we convince our friends to watch a show about high school football in America, a show that lodges in your heart and lingers in your consciousness long after you finish the fifth and final season?

In first year Medieval history we studied the Bayeux Tapestry. We were told: “It depicts the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 but it’s not really about that”. So why study the Bayeux Tapestry? We studied it for the insight into the medieval mind, in order to see what the Normans thought important about their invasion of Britain. A tapestry tells a larger story out of many small isolated moments deemed important. When woven together the importance of each moment in the overall picture becomes clear.

And whenever I try to explain Friday Night Lights I always fall back on the same statement: “It’s about high school football but it’s not really about that”. So why watch the show?

Friday Night Lights is a tapestry of the individual relationships and interactions of the small West Texas town of Dillon that culminate each week in a high school football match. It’s about class, race, religion, the concept of America, the existence of community, the possibility of transcendence of the everyday. It’s close-ups of lived relationships and wide panoramas of the endless Texas sky.

And yes, Friday Night Lights is a show about High School Football. The joy is to watch it and find out why that matters in the tapestry of Dillon Texas.


Marie Matteson is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.