As I mentioned yesterday and in an older post devoted exclusively to my obsessiveness about television, Friday Night Lights has come to an end after a five-year run.
There is something sorrowful about the end of a show that had so much humanity and human touchpoints in it. It is especially difficult when the show comes to an end after only five years, while seeming crap can remain on TV ad infinitum. I realized while watching it yesterday that it is not just full of real-life moments and the complex, changing characters we meet in our everyday lives but also that it is full of moments that we either relate to because we recognize these moments from our own lives or wish we had experienced ourselves. Me, being too much of a closed-off cynic most of my life to be open to the kinds of relationships people have on this show, I can only attest to their true-to-life feeling based on observation and conjecture. I did not fall in love with people in my high school, but just because I thought I was above that, does not mean I did not see it happen every day to people all around me. Much like many main characters in the show, some of those young loves lasted, and some did not.
At the heart of the show, we see the strength of the marriage between the two main characters, Eric and Tami Taylor. I repeat myself and every TV critic in the world when I state that I have never seen a more honest, grounded portrayal of marriage. The couple has struggles; they argue; they disagree. But they never disrespect. They eventually come together and discuss, even if they never agree. They work through challenges that real people face (for example, in one season, they want to buy a house they cannot afford, and unlike any other TV show I have seen in my lifetime, other than perhaps in the show Roseanne, where they did deal with the economics of middle-class family life, a couple chose to let go of something they dreamt of because they chose to be realistic and live within their means). The final season saw Eric and Tami face the biggest challenges to their marriage that they have possibly ever seen. The way they resolved the challenges took time, soul-searching, a sense of selflessness and of selfishness (each character having to find these attributes within himself to move forward together as a couple).
It has been a long time since I felt this broken up about the ending of a TV show.
In a couple of months, Big Love will also end after five years. I don’t feel the same kind of regret to see it go although I have found the whole show to be compelling, despite some the crazy drama that ensued (particularly last season). The crazy drama might even have been believable within the framework of Big Love if it had not tried to pack itself into one short season. I will miss the richness of the characters and how they each handle the trials of their new lives as “outed” polygamists.
Each of these shows, in their own ways, deals with different manifestations and representations of love. What could be more appropriate for Valentine’s Day? Another (holi)day I don’t celebrate. I cannot remember even being in a relationship during Valentine’s Day (since the 90s), and certainly not with anyone who cared for these artificial days for romance. I suppose I have become overly sentimental (or maudlin) now because I almost think it might be nice to have a day for that sort of sappiness.
Moving right along, as these shows reach the end of their road, and I find new shows to watch as I continue on my same road, working too much, baking too much, I wonder where the next fork will appear in my road.
Soundtrack for the frame of mind:
MGMT – “The Youth”