On Friday Night Lights

The Best Reality Show on Television

By Ariella Papa

When Friday Night Lights hit the scene in 2006, my day job was watching reality television shows and then creating promos for the networks. I am not the biggest reality-TV fan. The shows seemed completely inhuman, and the stars were anything but real. It was all so contrived. But given the percentage of television occupied by reality shows, especially back then, they were impossible to avoid. I found myself spending my nonwork hours craving an escape from “reality”–which was when I found Friday Night Lights.

While the reality-TV people I was watching for work seemed maniacally constructed and controlled by the production equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, Friday Night Lights–a fictional show, written by professional writers and acted by professional actors–felt totally authentic and true to life. The characters seemed more like people than the actual people in reality shows. Landry Clarke, Matt Saracen, Smash Williams, Tyra Collette, Lyla Garrity, and Jason Street became as real to me as many people I know. Somehow I found myself actually caring about their lives. I wondered what was going on in the Taylor household between episodes. I worried–really worried–about the Riggins brothers and their questionable decisions. (Copper wire? Stripping cars? Say it ain’t so.) And now, with the show’s end, I feel myself saddened by the loss of these people I have come to love. I’ll miss them truly. And that is a testament to the creators behind the scenes, who skillfully produced a show that doesn’t feel like it was produced at  …

More from Ariella Papa

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS