On Friday Night Lights

Come Home: West Texas Identities

By Jacob Clifton

1. Texas Radio

“Wait, so in West Texas do they really have a radio show about high school football?”

“In West Texas they have entire stations about high school football.”

“Okay. But what do they talk about the rest of the year?”

“Um, what . . . What do you mean?”

It was the holiday season of 2006, and my friend Ali’s husband, Mike, had recorded the first four or five episodes of Friday Night Lights and—like the rest of America—was planning on watching them some day that never quite came. I was visiting them in Dallas, like I do most years, and we’d come across the episodes on the TiVo and, being cozy inside and unwilling to leave the couch—I think there might have been literal ice cream involved—we turned it on.

Alison’s an attorney, and I never stop working, so the idea of spending the day in bed with a TV show seemed novel, maybe even a little dangerous. I was uncomfortable with discussing my West Texas provenance, or playing resident expert, two things viewing a show with Friday Night Lights’ setting normally would have led to. But we’d gone to college together, and I knew she knew my painful secret. We thought it was an experiment in sloth.

But by the time Jason Street was down and Eric Taylor was leading his boys in prayer, it felt like we were doing anything but playing hooky from life. We were engaged, leaning forward, screaming at the screen, for the rest of  …

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