logic vs. emotion

I just went through all five seasons of Friday Night Lights and it was glorious. The thing that I think is sort of funny about the show is that… logically, there were so many holes. How old was Tim Riggins, really? Characters switched classes and schools oh-so-easily. But I was okay with it because the emotional core of the show was so strong. I’m not quite sure how it got pulled off, maybe because the style was documentary hand-held, maybe because the actors were generally unfamiliar and worked with the scripts until the dialogue felt like riffing… I cared about the characters on this show in a way I don’t, generally, with TV. (It wasn’t just about “the moments,” which is a feint of an argument that justifies liking boring mumblecore films and Mad Men.) And Coach and Mrs. Coach, what a great, sexy, adult relationship. Seeing two smart people in a grown relationship is a valuable thing in these times.

Heather Havilresky’s piece in the New York Times Magazine nails some of the show’s greatness, cannily comparing it to the empty, emotionally bankrupt calories of Glee: “The real message of “Friday Night Lights” is a message about the joy of little things: the awkward thrills of a first kiss; the strange blessing of an unexpected rainstorm on a lonely walk home from a rough football practice; the startling surge of nostalgia incited by the illumination of football-stadium lights just as the autumn sun is setting; the rush of gratitude, in an otherwise mundane moment, that comes from realizing that this (admittedly flawed) human being that you’re squabbling with intends to have your back for the rest of your life. If “Glee” is about expressing yourself, believing in yourself and loving yourself all the way to a moment of pure adrenaline-fueled glory, then “Friday Night Lights” is about breathing in and appreciating the small, somewhat-imperfect moments that make up an average life.

I’ve been working on something that I’m utterly frustrated with, and I think part of the reason things aren’t working out for it in a variety of ways is that it goes against some of the easy storytelling found in certain genres. It’s dark and weird, and it’s trying to be a response to some of the “you are the CHOSEN ONE” stories. The narrative of specialness. But if you do that, you need to nail every single emotional event and pain in someone’s life. I learned that from Friday Night Lights. We’ll see what happens.