Friday Night Lights, Season 5

Why Ornette Is So Troubling
Talking television.
Dec. 17 2010 12:12 PM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5

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Jeff Rosick as Buddy Jr.

Funny, I was assuming the return of Jason Street was a prelude to the return of Tim Riggins. Riggins once dragged Street out of his wheelchair-induced funk and now it's Street's turn to return the favor. I was already imagining the look on Street's face when he finds out his old pal Riggins is behind bars, and then the scene as Street speed-rolls through the prison doors to smuggle him out somehow. And then a happily-ever-after ending to the tune of, yes, something by Crucifictorious.

David, you make a good point about the game. I wondered that myself—if the hits were pretty clean then what did the Lions do wrong exactly? What they violated were not any actual rules of football but the unspoken rules of gentlemanly Texas football. And if that's all they did, then more power to them, since Texas football was never all that welcoming to the Lions in the first place.

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The show is luring us into accepting ever greater levels of violence. Emily, the scene of Ornette telling a childhood story to Vince was not just another maudlin moment because, as you said, it made us uncomfortable. We've now come to see Ornette not as just an ex-con trying to win back his son's love but as a manipulator who will corrupt him. So a sweet story that ends with the lesson "Don't worry son, I ain't gonna let you fall" will just make Vince putty in his father's hands and us, the viewers, anxious. He could be sincere or he could be using this line on Vince the way he used the pie line on Eric. The menacing undertones of Ornette's character upset the whole worldview of FNL. These sentimental moments between men are its lifeblood but Ornette has made them suspicious. (And no, David, I don't miss the "good" black man in the show; if we had one you'd only complain about the "magical negro" problem.)

One last thing: David, you stopped the Billy Riggins/Luke exchange too early, because Luke keeps pushing: "Does she still work there?" he asks Billy. Then five minutes later: "What day? Wednesday?"

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Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

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