On Friday Night Lights

Class Not Dismissed

The Role of Economics and Money in the Story of Friday Night Lights

By Kevin Smokler

Friday Night Lights began its life as a true story and remained so until it landed on television. Published in 1990 as a book by Philadelphia journalist H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and A Dream spanned the 1988 football season of the Permian High School Panthers in Odessa, Texas, and depicted the team’s fanatical supporters. The book angered those supporters enough that not only did bookstores who featured it receive death threats, but Odessa itself barely cooperated with the 2004 film adaptation. Friday Night Lights the movie begins with the title card “the following is based on the 1988 West Texas Football Season” and uses the same team and player names. Odessa is never mentioned, and much of the movie was filmed in Abilene, Texas, three hours to the east.

When Friday Night Lights came to television in 2006, producer Peter Berg (who had also directed the film) changed the names of the characters and their high school, diversified the story line by placing women in more prominent roles, and dispensed with Odessa as a setting. The fictional Dillon is said to be “a few hours from Austin” and in “West Texas,” which puts it somewhere around San Angelo and Abilene. Odessa is another three hours to the west of that, about seventy miles from the New Mexico border. Friday Night Lights the TV show was filmed in Austin and the surrounding hills, which is as far away geographically and culturally from Odessa as Detroit is  …

More from Kevin Smokler

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS