Being given the opportunity to recap for TVGASM is the holy grail for any aspiring writer/smart-ass. I’ve spent years studying the Bible according to Flipit, J-Mo, PottyMouth, DearCrabby, Schoonie, WaffleBoy, Dangerously, and countless other recappers. I’ve played armchair recapper while watching my favorite shows and guilty pleasures, and after dipping my toe in the elusive Fountain of Sarcasm, the gods have seen fit to bless me. Like a priest, I am gay humbly serve this congregation. I hope to prove myself worthy.
For my first assignment, I will be tackling (no pun intended) Friday Night Lights! It’s 5th and final season premieres on NBC this Friday, April 15th at 8pm.
Or you could just buy the DVD…. on sale now!
I’m both excited and terrified to be recapping this show. It’s one of my favorite shows of all time and I hold it near and dear to my cholesterol addled heart. Based on NBC’s terrible promotion of the show, people were mistakenly led to believe that FNL was going to be a slick teen drama in the same vein as 90210, The OC, One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl; this time, centered around high school football. As a result, they avoided an insightful, heartfelt show more akin to Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life. Sadly, it was almost destined to suffer the same fate as those much heralded shows. After all, 90% of us were high school outcasts who both envied and condemned the seemingly privileged life of the jocks and cheerleaders.
I, however, saw the great potential to relive the gay locker room fantasies of my closeted youth, and chose to watch. Like those precious few others who gave the show a chance, I discovered an impeccably written, marvelously acted high quality family drama (and quite a bit of material to fuel my gay locker room fantasies). When a second and third season were greatly in jeopardy, I signed (mostly useless) online petitions back in 2006 to have NBC save this show from premature cancellation, and I built an altar of worship to DirecTV for answering my prayers. Over the 4 seasons which have already aired on broadcast TV, I’ve laughed, cried, and sat at the edge of my sagging couch during every late 4th quarter drive and hail mary pass. This show has produced some of the most compelling drama on television, including what I consider to be the best hour of dramatic scripted television that I’ve had the pleasure to witness. Fans of this show know that the episode I speak of is Season Four’s “The Son.” For those of you who watch Off the Map wondering if Zach Gilford has any acting talent whatsoever, go watch it. Actually, everyone, just go watch it. Actually, everyone out there, WATCH THIS SHOW!
I know I’ve just spent about 350 words pledging my undying love and respect for FNL, but I can still recognize all the show’s woeful missteps. For every genuinely perfect story arc, there is its completely ridiculous counterpart. Who can forget when the adorably awkward Landry killed the attempted rapist, defending the honor of the town hoe Tyra? Did anyone really believe Layla’s born-again, holy girl act after sampling Tim Riggins’ forbidden fruit? And how in god’s name did Mama Taylor go from housewife, to school guidance councilor, to high school principal? We had lovable paraplegic Jason Street impregnating a random waitress with a wheelchair fetish and fleeing to Mexico for a miracle surgery to repair is severed spine; the annoying Toddlers and Tiara’s girl getting impregnated by the fucking hot hayseed, Luke, after failing to seduce the aforementioned Greek God/Bad Boy Tim Riggins; Landry trying to woo a teen lesbian while rebounding from his relationship with no-longer-slutty Tyra; Landry somehow making his way onto the football team, in true geekdom glory, to become a late game savior and high school hero; and sensitive QB1 Matt Saracen seducing his gramma’s Guatemalan live-in nursemaid.
No show is perfect, but as with everything, true beauty lies in the presence of imperfections. Or maybe that’s just what ugly people tell themselves after the umpteenth slushie facial, wedgie, or bus stop beat down.
This Friday, a new season/school year begins for the family Taylor and the town of Dillon, TX! As a refresher:
Coach Taylor (aka Coach Father Figure)
After 3 successful season as the coach of the Dillion Panthers, aka the Evil Empire in Blue, with two state championship appearances and one victory to his credit, he was fired as a result of bad blood between himself and Joe McCoy, aka Papa Asshat, father of freshman phenom, J.D., aka Asshat in Training. He went on to assemble a team at rival East Dillon out of thugs, misfits, and a stolen Panther star player. Despite their losing season, complete with a forfeit in the team’s first game, Coach Father Figure was able to win the trust of his players and motivate them to a huge upset win and moral victory over the now hated Evil Empire in Blue.
Tami Taylor (aka Tami-Joe Clark)
Matriarch and devoted football wife, She stayed on as principal of the Evil Empire while her husband was banished to the wrong side of the tracks. Trying to affect change from within the belly of the beast, she found herself in the middle of a Bible Belt scandal, giving wise advice that lead Toddlers and Tiara’s Girl to get an abortion. She was unceremoniously and unjustly fired, sending her across said tracks to become an inner city guidance councilor.
Julie Taylor (aka Princess Angst)
The Angela Chase of the new millennium, Princess Angst is the uber-smart, mostly responsible progeny of Coach Father Figure and Tami-Joe Clark. She staged her fair share of rebellion, but she’s a good girl at heart. After 3 years as loving girlfriend to QB1 Matt Saracen, aka Wounded Puppy Dog, her life was shattered when he fled town without so much as a call, email or text, to “find himself,” effectively dumping her in the process. Struggling to get over her first love, she is now college bound.
Matt Saracen (aka Wounded Puppy Dog)
When Jason Street got paralyzed in the opening game of the first episode of the series, Matt stepped out of the shadows to lead the team to victory. Despite his underdeveloped athletic ability, he quickly grew into his talent and led the Dillon Panters, before they became the Evil Empire in Blue, to the TX State Championship. Abandoned by his mother, and managing the household while his father serves in the Army, he balanced school and football while taking care of his beloved GRAMMA!, who was slowly declining into dementia. He had an epic teen romance with Princess Angst throughout high school. After graduating, he passed up an opportunity to study art in Chicago to stay home and take care of gramma. But after his father was killed in active duty, he skipped town to “find himself,” leaving Princess Angst alone and devastated.
Vince Howard (aka Blind Side Lite)
He turned to football as a way to stay out of juvenile detention, and under the wing of Coach Father Figure, he blossomed into a promising talent, eventually taking over as QB for the East Dillon Lions. But despite his attempts to separate himself from a life of inner city crime, he returned to his gangsta ways in order to get the money to pay for rehab for his crack addicted mom. As a result, he drove the getaway car on a job gone bad, resulting in the shooting death of a friend.
Jess Meriweather (aka Quarterback Princess)
Permanent resident of the poor side of Dillon and daughter to a former East Dillon football player, she grew up around football and nurtures a deep love of the sport. She briefly developed a bad case of jungle fever with Landry, aka Ginger White Bread, but she couldn’t shake her past with Blind Side Lite. In the end, she chose to hitch her wagon on her fellow ghetto dweller.
Tim Riggins (aka Texas Forever)
The resident bad boy of Dillon, TX, he slept with Tyra before she stopped being slutty, he slept with Layla after Jason Street got paralyzed from the waist down, he slept with the single mom who moved in next door, he slept with the bartender who turned out to be Toddlers and Tiara Girl’s mom, most of the rally girls, and probably countless other women of all ages. But behind the sex-bomb, bad boy exterior, Tim is a caring, sensitive friend who saved Street from being an experiment for a Mexican “doctor,” he saved Layla from becoming a Christian conservative, and he saved his brother from going to jail. Like his nickname, he is the physical embodiment of Dillon and the term “Texas Forever.”
Tyra Collette (aka Ex-Slut)
Her rocky relationship with Texas Forever was doomed from the start, because neither of them could be faithful to each other. She slept with Smash Williams and hit on Jason Street before Tami-Joe Clark taught her some self-respect and told her she could go to college. It was a struggle, but after the attempted rape, she ran into the arms of her savior, Ginger White Bread. They were mostly happy until she finally got into college. Not long after she left, she cut him loose and hasn’t been heard from since.
Billy and Mindy Riggins (aka Small Town Loser and Stripper Wife)
Left to care for his brother, Small Town Loser couldn’t hold down a job or handle any real responsibility. Then he married a stripper (literally), impregnated her, and suddenly found himself struggling to pay the medical bills of her risky pregnancy. Instead of making her do pregnant girl porn, he turned his auto body shop into a chop shop, forcing Texas Forever to participate. When the cops caught on, Texas Forever took the rap and went to jail so that Small Town Loser could stay out of prison and be a father to his newborn son.
Luke Cafferty (aka Hayseed Hottie)
Star player for the Evil Empire in Blue, his dreams were dashed when his fake address was discovered. Now zoned for the ghetto East Dillon Lions, he’s left trying to win a college scholarship to escape a life of cattle herding by playing for the worst team in Texas. But good southern boy that he is, he just soldiers on, dabbling in prescription painkillers to hide an injury that’ll keep him off the field and prevent his dream from coming true. His old friends and teammates, led my Asshat in Training, treat him like shit, and he turns to Becky Sproles, aka Toddlers and Tiara’s Girl, for solace. When he learns that she’s pregnant with a hayseed fetus, he tries to do the right thing by her, until she gets an abortion and incurs the wrath of his Crazy Christian Mom.
Becky Sproles (aka Toddlers and Tiara’s Girl)
This dollar store pageant girl fell in love at first sight with Texas Forever, and who could really blame her. But as much as she tried, her pretty feet and beauty poses were never able to turn his head, unable to get him to look at her as anything but a friend. Nursing the pain from his 429th rejection, she ran into Hayseed Hottie at the local Sev-Elev. Virginities were lost that night, and hayseed was sown. She turned to Tami-Joe Clark for advice, and with her mom by her side, she aborted baby hayseed.
Buddy Garrity (aka Booster Dick)
Life-long Panther, both as a player and booster, his existence was defined by the Evil Empire in Blue. But he was shamed when an affair was made public in humiliating fashion outside of church services one Sunday. His wife kicked him out, divorced him, took up with a hippy vegan (the Texas equivalent of the devil), and moved with him and their kids to California. His daughter Layla, stood by him and stayed with him in Dillon to finish high school, but he lost her entire college savings in a bad investment. The resulting scandal got him pushed out as head booster of the Evil Empire, and feeling betrayed, he defected over to Coach Father Figure, helping him build a booster program for the fledgling Lions.
Landry Clarke (aka Ginger White Bread)
Best friend of Wounded Puppy Dog, he’s the quintessential dorky loser, but with layers. Smart, funny, and a hopeless romantic, he managed to briefly win Tyra’s affection by helping her shed her slutty reputation through tutoring… oh and killing her attempted rapist. His father helped him beat the murder charges, and despite his low social standing, he somehow became a decent football player and aspiring grunge band front man (LONG LIVE CRUCIFICTORIOUS!). Rezoning transported his ginger white ass over to the ghettos of East Dillon for his senior year, but he still managed to avoid getting jumped while briefly winning the affection of QB Princess.
Lorraine Saracen (aka GRAMMA!)
She loves football almost as much as she loves her grandbaby, Wounded Puppy Dog. But her declining health is almost too much of a burden for him to handle. She alternates between blissful delusions of normalcy and crushing bouts of guilt. But through it all, her love for and pride in Wounded Puppy Dog is evident.
And that, my fellow Gasmii, brings us up to date. I invite you to join me for the 5th and final season of FNL. Brilliance and ridiculousness is sure to follow, and I, for one, can’t wait! I promise to be funnier while recapping the actual episodes. I just wanted to get everyone up to date and excited about the premiere this Friday! Remember, Friday 4/15 at 8pm on NBC! CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS CAN’T LOSE!
PS – One final note. This past summer, my BFF and I had our very own real life FNL encounter. We were vacationing on the Jersey Shore, and one day while venturing out onto the beach, we walked passed a couple. Being gay, my eyes immediately checked out the guy, and I had to do a double take. Smash Williams? Could it possibly have been him? Nah, I decided. What would he be doing in Ocean City, NJ? So we’re chillin on the beach, and we go to take a swim when I spot him again, and we get a much closer look. And unless he has an identical twin, it was definitely Smash Williams. Neither of us had the nerve to approach him, but we did everything in our power to get close and eavesdrop on their conversation. At one point, a relatively powerful wave hit, and we were knocked around. Smash was standing behind us, and my BFF was thrown back and kicked him. MY BFF KICKED SMASH WILLIAMS! She did get to apologize to him, but alas, no further contact or conversation ensued, and 20 seconds later, he and the skank disappeared. We’re losers, but for the rest of her life, she can say that she kicked Smash Williams! And I was there to witness it!