Friday Night Lights is a show about everything I hated in high school. Jocks, football, underage drinking, cheerleaders, football, teenagers, high school, teachers, coaches, pep rallies, and did I mention football? However, the show isn’t really about those things at all. Don’t get me wrong, the show has all of that stuff, but it’s actually about the relationships between these characters, and possibly more importantly, their relationships to the town of Dillon, Texas.

The relationships are portrayed in a realistic, highly emotional way. For a television drama, Lights goes above and beyond what is usually offered on network TV. Unfortunately, the series is now finished. On February 10 the show aired its final episode, and what a finale it was. For anybody already invested in the characters of the show, it would be hard not to tear up at least once in this finale. Hardly a scene goes by without packing an emotional punch. After all, this episode ties up a lot of loose ends in a short amount of time. One gets the sense that the various goodbyes, “I love yous,” and promises expressed between the characters were even more real this time, since the actors knew this would be their final episode. Some of the tears may have actually been real. And of course, as always, the soundtrack by Explosions in the Sky, and the various other songs selected, played its role of heightening emotional response.

I didn’t watch Lights until last year. My roommates started watching this show about football. “No thanks, I’ll stick to Californication and Dexter,” I said. However, every once in a while I would be in the living room and catch part of an episode. Before I knew it, I was watching all the episodes I had missed, via Netflix Instant. Soon I was caught up, and we continued the rest of the first four seasons. I think it only took two months, probably less time. Once you get caught up in Dillon, Texas, it’s hard to leave. This is true not only of the viewers, but also the characters in the show. Dillon seems to have this gravitational pull that makes it hard for anyone to escape. But, at the end of the day, it’s because the characters don’t want to leave.

As a finale, the episode does everything it should. It gives closure. That’s not to say the characters’ lives end. We see everything the characters are going to do, the various journeys they are embarking on. The show could easily continue for another season, or ten, but it feels right to end it here, and it ends on a nice, hopeful image that is absolutely not cheesy. Like many of the other seasons, this one ends with a Texas State Championship. And without spoiling anything, it comes down to one final pass. However, the producers of the show made an interesting decision. They decide not to show if the catch is made (don’t worry they eventually show who won). Instead, the episode flashes eight months into the future, showing the present lives of the characters. This image of a Hail Mary pass with everything on the line, followed by a scene months later with the characters back to boring, everyday tasks, really sums up the series.

These characters put everything on the line for their relationships, for what is important to them, like the state championship. But in the end, none of it really matters. What matters is the present, how those things effect who they are now. None of the characters in Lights dwell too much on the past, but boy do they dwell on the present. That is why I think so many people have praised this show, and that’s the thing that makes Lights great. The show is about relationships that shouldn’t matter. High school sweethearts who are doomed to break up. Football championships that don’t actually have a bearing on much of anything. But the characters really care about these things, especially while they are happening. And if you get hooked to Friday Night Lights, you will care too.

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