Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose...My FNL Awards

After several years of hearing from multiple people that I just had to watch Friday Night Lights, the NBC series that ran for 5 seasons, I finally had the time to binge-watch the whole thing.

Everyone was right - I did love it.

Instead of just putting a bunch of stuff on the page, I'm going to give out awards for my favorite and least favorite things. Feel free to agree or argue with me in the comments!

Best Season: Season four. I loved the transition to East Dillon and the growth of a team from the ground up. It really made you realize how great the Dillon Panthers had it, even if it didn't seem so in the first three seasons.

Best Game: It's hard to remember all of them, but I'm going to say any game where the team had the game won before the last minute of the fourth quarter. It's amazing how many of those games went to the last second!

Oh - I have it. In season two, there's a tornado that demolishes rival Laribee High School's facilities and they're forced to move over to Dillon High School for two weeks, right before they have to play each other. Laribee players ruin the Dillon locker room and their coach is a huge jerk even though Coach Taylor is trying to be hospitable. Then Tim Riggins' clothing is peed on by Laribee players, Riggins confronts them about it, and the Laribee coach and Riggins get at it until Coach Taylor grabs the Laribee coach and pins him to the wall and threatens him never to touch his players again.

Then in the game, the Panthers have come back and it is clear they are going to win because Coach Taylor is having one of the best-coached games of his career. But as Riggins takes the ball down the field for the winning score... the Laribee coach runs on the field and tackles him!

Best Main Title Character: Coach and Tami Taylor. Hands down.

Best Main Title Character who's not an adult: Matt Saracen. Yea, I said it. He's the most realistic guy in the show - awkward and clumsy. When he had to deal with his dad's death in season four, it was so heartbreaking to see him go through it. And then after the funeral he takes the gravedigger's shovel and starts putting dirt on his dad's coffin, and he's crying and his hands are bleeding all over the shovel...that was horrible to watch.

But in the end, he still got the girl. The girl he was oogling in the very first episode. I was so glad Zach Gilford came back to do those episodes at the end.

Best Main Title Character who's not an adult, Runner-Up: Jess Meriweather. She was used in season four as the Girl, but in season five she developed into an equipment manager and student coach! I can get behind that for sure.

Worst Main Title Character: Julie Taylor. As weird as that may seem, since I like her boyfriend the most, she was so annoying. I almost cheered when she got slapped in season five.

Best Episode: "Kingdom" - season five, episode five. I was laughing out loud during this episode, where East Dillon takes an overnight road trip to play South King. The antics at the hotel were hilarious, and the game was fun to watch. ("Welcome East Dillon Loins")

Best Overarching Plot: I was always hoping that Jason Street would come out on top, and I was glad that, even though things fell through playing quad rugby, coaching football, and selling cars, he finally succeeded as a sports agent and had a family of his own.

Best Overarching Plot, Runner-Up: Tim and Billy Riggins. Tim had his ladies and Billy had his legal troubles, but by the end of the series you realized it wasn't about all those other things. It was about them - brothers being brothers.

Worst Overarching Plot: Julie in everything. She's turning into a bad girl! Now she's hanging with an older guy (Swede)! Now she wants to do Habitat for Humanity! Now she wants to avoid her mom's advice at any cost! Now she's ignoring her mom and road tripping to Austin! Now she's sleeping with a married man! Now she's refusing to go back to college! Now she's off to Chicago!

Best Plot Twist: East Dillon. As I said before, I loved that monkey wrench thrown into the start of season four. I think it gave the series a fresh start, and we could move on with the new characters and the red-and-white team.

Best Plot Twist, Runner-Up: Matt's artistic talent. It made small appearances in the first couple of episodes of the series, but didn't appear again in all seriousness until the end of season three, when he decided football wasn't in his future...but he loved art! And look where that got him - a job at an art gallery! (Plus he was accepted to the Art Institute of Chicago, where my grandma went to school!)

Worst Plot Twist: Lyla's Born-Agan phase. Not that it happened - but how fast it disappeared in season three, and was never mentioned again. I get that season two originally had 22 episodes and could only do 15 because of the writer's strike (remember the final shot of Jason asking his one-night stand to keep the baby...and that was it?), but she was drinking and sleeping around again right at the beginning of season three! And we never heard the reason why she turned away!

Worst Plot Twist, Runner-Up: Smash's steroid use. Usually if stuff was taken care of in secret on the show, it came back to haunt the characters later on. But when Coach Taylor decided to not report Smash's steroid use, it never came back. Should I be impressed?

Best Secondary Character: If you had told me after the pilot that Buddy Garrity would be my favorite secondary character, I would have laughed in your face. But it was amazing what they did with that character. He was the booster you hated, and then the dad you loved because he stuck up for his daughter when she was being called a slut, and then you hated him again because of all the grief he was giving coach, and then you REALLY hated him when you realized he'd been cheating on his wife...but then as season two started, you really felt sympathy. And finally in season four, when he gets up in front of the boosters and denounces his school because of all the changes going on, you love him!

Second-Best Secondary Character: Corrina Williams. No matter what dumb thing Smash did, or what dilemma he was going through, she always seemed to have the right thing to say. She put her kids first and always kept things real, even when Smash had his head in the clouds.

Best Parent: Corrina again!

Best Parent, Runner-Up: Landry's dad. Even though he tried to hide his son's guilt when he found out he killed Tyra's stalker, he also stuck with him and helped Landry see how he killed the man to protect his friend. Plus he was just as flummoxed as the rest of us when Tyra was hanging around.

Worst Parent: Vince's dad. Yes, he made sure that thug never threatened Vince or Jess again, but when Coach says to put all recruiting through him, don't ignore him. Jerk.

Worst Parent, Runner-Up: Riggins' dad. Way to be there for your kid.

Can't Get Any Worse Parent: Joe McCoy. I HATED HIM. And what happened to his awkward child J.D.? Well, he turned into a giant jerk, too. I had high hopes for J.D. and was disappointed he went down the wrong path. Thanks Joe. Jerk.

Best Couple: Is there any contest? Eric and Tami were perfect. They had issues, but never let them fester enough to seriously damage their relationship. They didn't keep secrets and kept everything out in the open. And in the end, even though he was stupid about it at first, Eric rejected the Dillon contract and went with his wife to Philly so she could take her dream job.

Best Couple, Runner-Up: You may think I'm going to say Matt and Julie. But I'm not. I'm going to say Billy and Mindy Riggins! It was a surprise in season three when they suddenly were dating and got hitched, but over seasons four and five, when their siblings weren't on the show anymore, I really got to like those two. They both started off as blundering idiots, but turned into a couple I was rooting for - especially when they defended Becky and wouldn't let her stay with her deadbeat dad and evil stepmother.

Couple That Should Have Stayed Together: Landry and Tyra. Good grief, after all the ups and downs they went through, there should have been something at the end making the two of them stick! It was so unlikely, but then I adored it. I was disappointed the two of them didn't even have a scene in the final episode.

Couple That Should Have Stayed Together, Runner-Up: Tim and Lyla. It really felt like Tim was in love with Lyla, and it never felt that way about anyone else (including Tyra in the end). They were so opposite, but I wanted that crazy couple to stick.

Best scene: When Tami confronts Luke about the mailbox in season four. Instead of being a jerk about it and defending it so he can play for Dillon, he breaks down and apologizes and is super polite about it. I immediately felt for the kid, and I liked him instead of regretting him going to East Dillon. (By the way, most of the time the kids were super polite - I've never heard more "Yes sir/ma'am"s and "No sir/ma'am"s in my life!)

Do you have any other awards to hand out? I'd love to hear them. This was a great show, and I'm so glad I had the time to race through the episodes - it would have been too hard to wait!


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