Friday Night Lights, Season 5
Slate originally published its TV Club on the final season of Friday Night Lights during its run on DirecTV. We're reprinting the entries to coincide with the series' run on NBC.
Here's a question for you out in TV land: Has there ever been a television Junior who wasn't a joke or a dope? Buddy Jr., though I am sure he will gain some gridiron redemption, is at the moment the same type of doughy idiot as Anthony (A.J.) Soprano, Jr. on The Sopranos. I can't summon other TV juniors immediately to mind, but I'd bet most of them are similarly ridiculous. Existing principally to be foils or knockoffs, Juniors are intrinsically absurd because they are both too much and too little like their dads. The dads, being the kind of egocentrics who saddle their sons with their own name, are inevitably frustrated by the contrast. Buddy Jr. is maddening to Buddy Sr. because he's exactly like him: incapable of controlling his appetites, self-pitying, joking when he should be serious. Can anyone think of other TV juniors who fit—or break—this stereotype?
Emily, both you and the superb Andy Greenwald, who's recapping FNL for New York Magazine's Vulture section, wonder about the TMU coaching staff's suspicious pick-up of Vince during Luke's campus visit. Both of you posit that it's probably breaking college football recruiting rules. While we're clearly supposed to think that what the TMU cabal is doing to Vince is against the rules, after reading about those rules, I would (tentatively) acquit the TMU coaches of wrongdoing. If this excellent summary of the NCAA regulations about campus visits is correct, then Luke's visit is certainly kosher. It's his "official" senior year visit to TMU, a 48-hour period when the school can tempt him with game tickets, pizza, and extremely hospitable campus hostesses. It also appears that Vince's visit, and even the special audience with the coaches, is OK. As a junior, Vince is permitted to make "unofficial" visits to college campuses, to accept free game tickets while he's there, and even to talk to coaches—as long as the conversations are on campus. So the TMU coaches may be sleazeballs—their maroon ball caps certainly scream "jerk"—but I'm not sure they're breaking the rules by hard-selling Vince. Still, I'm not at all confident in my rules interpretation: If there are any blue-chip recruits or ethically challenged college football coaches reading this, please correct or confirm it.
David Plotz is the Editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank and Good Book. He appears on Slate's Political Gabfest.