Friday Night Lights, Season 4
Julie actually did use her cell phone to talk to Matt. Still, David, you're right that it was a rare moment of post-1980s technology on FNL. Maybe that's an homage to the show's roots in Buzz Bissinger's book, which was published in 1990. To me, it's OK—it makes the show seem classic rather than of the moment. But maybe I'm showing my age here. E-mail isn't exactly a fad, after all. Maybe Tami wouldn't have gotten in trouble for giving Becky abortion literature if she'd just directed her to Google.
I agree that Julie and Matt's romance is key to the show (though I winced at your choice of the word deflowering for their sweet campsite scene). I have a different feeling about why we need them, though. I think they represent young love entirely in the here and now. The beauty of teenage romance is that it doesn't have to last to be perfect. I don't wonder about whether they'll someday turn into Mr. and Mrs. Coach. I figure they probably won't, because if you're lucky, usually the role your high-school boyfriend or girlfriend plays later in life is to be one of your fondest memories. You look back over the decades and there you both are in the mind's eye, fresh-faced and shining. As long as the reason the relationship ended isn't utterly dreadful, the moments of misunderstanding and fighting fade away, don't they? That's what's idealized: not the actual present, but the past. That's the Matt and Julie vibe, I think. They'll look back at each other with a sense of longing, but from a place of contentment with where they ended up, because they helped each other get there. At the same time, I don't think they're finished yet. Matt better try a little harder than one phone call to get Julie back. And once she's done yelling, she should come around, because he left largely because of her own ambivalence.
Speaking of young love, what do you think about the juxtaposition of Jess kissing Landry in the car with new comfort—even if his parents did awkwardly ask her about Obama as a Representative Black Person—and then Jess holding Vince after he waited on the street outside her house to tell her that his cousin is dead. He is one lonely boy. If I were Jess' mom, I'd be rooting for Landry, romancewise. But I hope that Jess can keep figuring out how to pull through, even though I'm chafing over how angelic she always has to be. Any chance for them to be our next model for platonic friendship? Seems unlikely. Vince is too needy, and too buff.
I know it spells doom for the Lions, but I'm glad that Luke's Oxycontin gig is up. Every time I see him limp off the field, I vow to myself that my sons will never play football. For me, the moment that Eric blew it was when he yelled at Luke after seeing that awful purple bruise. Where's the compassion, coach? The kid played hurt for your sake as well as his own. Or am I being a girly softie—what do you think, Hanna?
I also want to hear your thoughts about Tami's ordeal with the school board, courtesy of Luke's mother. (Not so impressed with that actress. She is wooden in a way that confirms my own stereotypes about fundamentalists.) To me it all seemed pretty plausible. She didn't actually advise Becky to have an abortion (right?). But she walked up to the line, protocol or no protocol, and for anti-abortion advocates that could well be all it takes. There's a disconnect here that the show effectively gets at: the taboo nature of abortion in conversation, especially with teenagers, and the persistent on-the-ground fact of it. I wrote about young abortion providers this week, and one striking statistic I came across is that the number of annual abortions in the United States has largely held steady since Roe: 1.3 million in 1977 and 1.2 million 30 years later. Hanna, can you imagine a Texas in which Tami's evenhanded counsel wouldn't have gotten her into political trouble?
And on a different note, should I withdraw my opposition to Becky and Tim getting together? She really does seem to understand and appreciate him like nobody else (including both of you, who are so impervious to Tim's charms). True, Thelma and Louise was the cliché movie to ask him to watch with her. But he saved that moment for me by asking whether there were any other DVDs in the house.
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. She is also the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School and a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. Her new book is Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook or Twitter.