Friday Night Lights, Season 5

A Different Model For Tami—Hillary Clinton
Talking television.
Feb. 3 2011 2:16 PM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5

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Julie Taylor, Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen.

I have a different model for Tami: Hillary Clinton. She is not asking to be top wife if that means some permanent role reversal. She is saying that this time, for this choice, it's her turn. Yes, she sprung this on Eric, but what was she supposed to do, hold it in till the game was over? She is the one being more rational. Coach is losing his Lions; as you say, David, coaching the new Lions-Panthers hybrid is really not for him, and why exactly shouldn't they move to Philadelphia? Eric won't need me to scout jobs for him in Philly (which is a good thing, since I went to a Quaker school, where we had no football team and weren't even allowed to boo). He'll be snapped up in a second by the school of his choice. He can save more black kids like Vince, or head to Italian South Philly, or hike out to the mixed inner 'burbs. Eric is perfectly portable. Which means that he and Tami can model the Clinton taking-turns kind of marriage (minus certain complications) without breaking a sweat. Eric just has to get his mind around it. I agree that next week he will do just that, thereby serving as a role model for husbands everywhere who can think beyond top this and top that.

I loved this episode for its small, one-on-one moments. A couple of them were about giving and taking advice: the exchange between Luke and Tim and the one in which Tyra tells Tim that he'll regret leaving Billy for Alaska. "He's been your only family," she says, and makes us think, along with Tim, about what he stands to lose. Yes, I also wondered where she is going to college and what she has to say about the wider world, as opposed to philosophizing about Dillon, but mostly I was just grateful for her cool gaze, new hair, and old-friend familiarity. Maybe she won't help Tim build a house on his land and move into it with him, but she has already come through by being his release valve. He got to tell her he'd taken the fall for Billy—as he couldn't tell Coach—and you could see the hurt start to leave him. This felt like the right closing of the circle to me. As you pointed out, David, the writers are taking us back to the show's beginning and to good effect recalling for us the emotional ties they established in Season 1.

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Did we predict that Vince and Jess would get back together? We should have. I still object to the banishment of Ornette, but I don't have it in me to steel myself for many bits of harsh realism in next week's farewell forever finale. If it were up to me, Luke and Becky would head off together into the sunset along with Vince and Jess. You're right, Hanna, that Billy needs to get the coaching job so he can feed the twins. I'm not sure how Buddy will make his peace with this future for his new-old team, but he will manage, and since his son has disappeared as a speaking character, it won't take more than a minute or two to wrap up their narrative.

I am not sure what to want for Julie and Matt, though. At the end of last season, I convinced myself that their relationship was all about the fleeting beauty of young love. It was supposed to end because that's what high school romances are for—making mistakes. But now I'm sort of attached to the idea that Matt will be happier with Julie than without her. And he is my FNL soft spot. Well, we'll find out soon enough. Do either of you want an epilogue for these characters, a la the end of Six Feet Under? I don't. I want to imagine that this show could come back someday, when my kids are old enough to watch.

—Emily

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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