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The Binge Watcher’s Guide To “Friday Night Lights”

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What You Need To Know

First things first, it’s not a continuation of the movie “Friday Night Lights.” It’s so much better. Kyle Chandler’s Eric Taylor runs laps around Billy Bob Thornton’s Gary Gaines, and I love Gary Gaines. Imagine if “One Tree Hill” and “Varsity Blues” had a baby. That’s what FNL is.

The show hits you right in the mouth in the first episode. I was damn near in tears by the end of the first episode. The characters and corresponding story arcs are highly dramatic, but the show still manages to stay realistic. Coach Eric Taylor’s relationship with his wife, Tami, steals the show (WARNING: You will fall in love with Connie Britton). There’s heartbreak and triumph in every episode. It’s not just a show about sports–it’s a show about life. Horrible, disgusting, hopeful, soul-crushing life. The show treats you like an emotional yo-yo and you will find yourself running through entire seasons in less than a week’s time.

Recommended Binge Partner: Your significant other
Where You Can Get It: Netflix, Amazon Instant
Seasons: 5
Episodes: 76
Emmys Won: 2. Kyle Chandler, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2011). Jason Katims, Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (2011).

Ranking The Characters

1. Tami Taylor
2. Coach Eric Taylor
3. Matt Saracen
4. Tim Riggins
5. Buddy Garrity
6. Lyla Garrity
7. Landry Clarke
8. Jason Street
9. Tyra Collette
10. Brian “Smash” Williams

Can’t Miss Episodes

“Pilot” (Season 1) – They hit you over the head with a hammer right out of the gate. Jason Street is a five-star recruit with a smoking hot girlfriend (Minka Kelly). He gets paralyzed in the first 30 minutes of the show. Gut. Punch.

“State” (Season 1) – The Dillon Panthers make it all the way to the Texas State High School Football Championship at Texas Stadium. Probably one of the greatest hours of television you’ll ever watch.

“Always” (Season 5) – The finale wraps up “FNL” beautifully. You may have never set foot in the Lone Star State, but you won’t be able to help welling up when Tim Riggins says “Texas forever” for the last time.

“Hello, Goodbye” (Season 3) – Smash Williams finally gets his shot after rehabbing his injury and Coach Taylor’s true heart shines through when he begs with a Texas A&M coach to let Smash try out.

“Mud Bowl” (Season 1) – After a chemical spill renders the Panthers’ home field unplayable, Coach Taylor gets creative and hosts a state playoff game in the middle of a field against a Texas powerhouse.

“East Of Dillon” (Season 4) – The season four premiere thrusts Coach Taylor into the unfamiliar “urban” (read: predominantly black and poor neighborhood) surroundings of East Dillon, where he’s tasked with building the reborn East Dillon Lions football team. A once proud Texas juggernaut, East Dillon’s team is now a joke and it’s up to Taylor to restore their former glory with the deck stacked against him. Season four introduces an almost entirely new cast of characters and gives the show another element that wasn’t seen in the first three seasons.

“Underdogs” (Season 3) – Tyra Collette’s college entrance essay will make you sob.

How Many Episodes You Can Watch In One Sitting

Like I said before, the show can get heavy and absolutely crush your soul. Watching Matt Saracen try to juggle taking care of his grandma, deal with his dad being deployed over and over again, and date the coach’s daughter all while dealing with the pressure of being the starting quarterback is enough to sap every last ounce of optimism in your soul. So, how many should you watch at a time? No more than five.

Recommended Food

The show is based in Texas, so go barbecue or go home: brisket, beans, slaw, and potato salad. Don’t get crap from a grocery store. You want meat right out of the smoker and beans that have been slow-cooking for hours.

Most Underrated Character

Buddy Garrity

Most Overrated Character

Brian “Smash” Williams

Most Annoying Character

Julie Taylor

Ranking The Seasons

1. Season 1
2. Season 3
3. Season 4
4. Season 5
5. Season 2

Start To Finish

If you’re gainfully employed, four weeks. That’s three episodes a night for roughly 25 days. If you factor in a few nights where you actually have shit to do, you’ll come in closer to a full 30 days to knock this one out. The show only has 76 episodes, which is a crime in and of itself, but the amount of story they manage to fit into those 76 episodes will have you hanging onto every scene.

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Brian McGannon

What do I love? I love happy hour, a good golf tan, and getting moderately drunk during dinner.

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