Yes, in my house, Matt's decision to fetch his grandmother back prompted moans of "noooo." I didn't feel manipulated by it, though, Hanna. I could imagine Matt making that call. In the last couple of years, I've watched a number of friends—you movingly among them, Meghan—put their own lives on hold to take care of sick parents. I'm not saying by any means that these halts are always or even often called for; I entirely agree with you that children are supposed to leave their parents (and grandparents)—it's the job of growing up. Sacrifices like this should have clear limits. And Matt's doesn't, presently. He isn't making a time-bounded decision to put off art school for a semester or a year, because Lorraine isn't dying, she's just getting old. As my husband pointed out, once you put off school indefinitely, how likely are you to go?
But if the next season turns out to show us Matt's longer leave-taking, and he does get out of Dillon, then I'll forgive the show that cheesy "you never left me so I'm not going to leave you" transgression. Because the wrestling and the stops and starts and the shading of noble selflessness into self-destruction do seem like a real part of leaving the grandma who raised you.
Hanna, I agree that the future of football, and drama, is bright. Crosstown rivalry between schools from different sides of the tracks, oodles of potential for new characters, Eric with something to prove, Tami with divided loyalties, J.D. and Joe with … well I still find them irritatingly flat but maybe the writers will up their game on that score. And Meghan, you're right that Eric's fall saved the episode from sentimental overdose. But now that we've appreciated the dramatic potential, can I howl about the utter injustice for just one more moment? As my friend Matt Labash writes in an e-mail, "what's a brother got to do to keep his job?" He continues:
But even in this shark-jumping third season, this is how we know it's still a good show: you root for characters and against dramatic possibilities. … I'm rooting against my own interest, and I'm rooting for the interest of a person who doesn't actually exist. That's how you know the writers are doing their job.
It's been a pleasure to watch and parse and muse with you. I can hardly say goodbye, since the three of us have a new Web site to launch soon. Which means that like FNL, we get to go another few (or many!) rounds. This exchange bodes well for all the give and take to come.