Friday Night Lights, Season 5

Week 2: Social Lubricants
Talking television.
Nov. 4 2010 1:09 PM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5

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Luke Cafferty. Click image to expand.
Friday Night Lights 

Hanna, that is a fantastic point about how FNL rarely allows its women to have girlfriends. The show gives us strong maternal relationships—Tami and Julie, Tami and Tyra, Tami and Epic (coming soon to a bathroom stall near you!)—but almost no sisterhood. I should say that this bothers me, but hell, I'm a man! You think I ought to complain when interesting, attractive women pay their closest attention to men?

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David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

Neither of you touched on the biggest trap laid in this episode, which comes courtesy of kindly Mr. Short. I've read enough about shady college football boosters to know that Short's encounter with Vince was not serendipitous. I expect we will soon learn that he is a loyal alumnus of University of Miami or University of Alabama or one of the other colleges recruiting Vince and that he's insinuating himself into Vince's good graces with favors (dinner, a job for mom), so that when signing day comes, Vince takes a football scholarship at his alma mater. But this will undoubtedly blow up in scandal, and tarnish our beloved No. 5.

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This was an episode about new relationships, and it was remarkable how so many scenes revolved around a social lubricant. Mr. Short buys dinner for Vince and Luke; the rally girls spread goodwill with cookies and porn; Tami goes drinking to endear herself to her colleagues; Jess and Maura funnel beers to increase their, um, social capital; Coach bets Mack $20 and a shot; Julie uses football to make friends … I could go on. Social lubricants are a shorthand way to form bonds quickly: The drink or dinner or football trivia accelerates you from stranger to friend.

I don't think the investigation into Luke's hit will get FNL talking about head injuries. The hit was a body shot, not a head shot. The Croft QB didn't seem to be knocked unconscious.

A few questions that are nagging me: When Mindy rebukes Becky for coming home so late, and tells her that she better get used to being supervised, does a smile flash on Becky's face? Is she secretly delighted that someone is finally going to be keeping an eye on her? And is Mindy busting Becky out of pure malice, or has she internalized Billy's plea to take care of her for Tim's sake? (Notable parallelism here: Mindy rips into Becky in the same way Billy ripped into Hastings. Why did Eric tell Billy to go easy on Hastings?)

Is it really possible that stunning blonde Julie Taylor was not invited to join anyone's study group? That note-taking fraternity pledge will probably be impeached when his brothers find out that he passed up a chance to study some Southern myths with Julie!

Finally, doesn't that young, bug-eyed, happy-hour-organizing teacher scream "crazy stalker"? Stay away from her, Tami!

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