Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Turn Out the Lights

"Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose." -Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights

At the risk of turning this blog into a full-blown television and movie review site (I recently added this page, to share our thoughts on what the peanut is watching), I still feel compelled to share with you my reaction to the ending of the series "Friday Night Lights."

This is a show my wife and I watched from the beginning. She was skeptical at first, since it was about a high school football team in Texas. But she soon realized it was about a whole lot more than just football: community, relationships, parenting, family, marriage.

And that's why I want to share with you my thoughts.

Coach and Tammi Taylor
In the finale, the Taylors (played by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton), face some tough decisions that will affect the future of their family. Mrs. Taylor receives the job offer of a lifetime, to be the dean of admissions at a college in Philadelphia (they live in Texas). For their entire 18-year marriage, the Taylors' every move has been to accommodate Coach Taylor's job. He is a high school football coach in high school football-crazy Texas. And is about to reach the pinnacle of his career. He's on the verge of winning a second state championship. And next season, due to budget cuts, the two schools in their fictional town are merging to form one "super team." He is in line to coach this team.

So they are faced with the decision: continue on the same path, where his job and his dream takes precedence, like it has over the past 18 years. Or, change course, and give priority to her dream for once. The tension built throughout the last few episodes as they danced around this touchy subject.

Who should make the sacrifice?

The person who does just may resent the one who gets their way for the rest of their lives.

I will spoil the ending for the sake of this post, but if you haven't seen it yet, then I suggest you stop reading right now. From here on out is the spoiler:

Halfway through the finale, when it looks like Coach Taylor won't budge, his wife gives up. With tears in her eyes, she simply says, "I'm going to turn down that job. I'm not going to win this fight."

And he just says, "Alright." That's it... and that's that.

You're shocked that this could be the ending when the whole show had revolved around this couple that faced adversity together and did so with such love and grace. How could this guy whose gruff exterior was simply an occupational necessity, who really loved and adored his wife and his two daughters and wore his heart on his sleeve throughout the entire series when it came to them, just dismiss his wife like that?

Later in the episode, he has an epiphany.

A female student who loves football and aspires to be a coach someday, a girl he has taken under his wing, comes into his office. She says, "Being a part of (this team) has been the greatest experience of my life."

And he looks at her and says, "Mine too."

At that moment he realizes he has reached the pinnacle of his career. He's turned around the lives of the kids on his team and turned around the program at a school from 'the other side of the tracks.' He's brought these misfits to the brink of an unprecedented state championship.

He rushes to see his wife and tell her they should move to Philadelphia.

And that's what we were hoping he would say all along.

This is something my wife and I work on daily as a couple. Sacrificing for each other. Compromising for each other. Being able to say "ok" when the other person even needs something that might seem trivial (to go for a run, to go get a pedicure). Not only letting them, but wanting to let them.

Because if you make the other person's happiness just as important if not more important than your own, you're both going to be happy a lot more often than you're not.

This is why Friday Night Lights was about much more than football. This is why we're going to miss it.

Another show we identify with and watch and enjoy regularly is "Parenthood." Click here to read why.


  1. Maybe I'm just a little shmoopy these days, but I read this post on my blackberry at the bus stop this morning and was in tears by the time the bus rolled up.

    Your ability to compromise as a couple is such an inspiration to your friends - even though it may not always come easy, you and your wifey really do put each other first. This post used a cultural moment to highlight that important commitment - well done, DKL!

  2. Thank you, LisaB. But I must admit: I usually only mention the good stuff. :-)

    Marriage is hard work.


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