Friday FabOoolousness – Friday Night Flicks for Fall: Friday Night Lights

By now, everyone has heard of Friday Night Lights – whether it be the book by H.G. Bissinger published in 1990, the motion picture produced by Brian Grazer in 2004, or the television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that aired from 2006 until 2011.  Some even know the “real” Friday night lights – high school football in West Texas

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the film.  Friday Night Lights is a perfect Friday night flick for fall. 

The time – 1988

 The place – Odessa, Texas

 The who – the Permian High School football players

The dream – to win the state championship

The obstacles – a coach that pushes his players too far, parents living vicariously through their teens’ lives, and societal pressure 

Two things come to mind when people outside the state of Texas think about West Texas – high school football and oil.  So, if everyone outside the state knows about the teenage pig-skin programs, what do the people inside the state think?  Football is life.  Win at all costs. 

Friday Night Lights follows Coach Gary Gaines (Hollywood great, Billy Bob Thornton), star Permian running back James “Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke), back-up running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young) quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), and safety Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) on their quest for a Mojo football championship.  The season seems to be right on schedule, but things erupt when Boobie tears his ACL. 

Coach Gaines is immediately under fire in the media and around town; a head football coach’s job is never safe in West Texas without wins and when a star player goes down, people panic.   

As if the pressure isn’t already mounting for the kids, Billingsley is also faced with managing his father’s (country music star, Tim McGraw) drinking and humiliating outbursts.  Like many other former football stars, Billingsley’s father continues to live in the past and is humiliated that his son is not performing up to his standards.

The season ends with a three-way tie in the district between Permian, their arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels, and Abilene Cooper.  With a flip of a coin, Permian and Lee move on (yes, they really flipped coins to break a three-way tie in conference when determining playoff spots).   Permian rolls through the playoffs and meets Dallas Carter in the state championship. 

Watch the movie to find out what happens next…. 

Have you seen Friday Night Lights?  Have you read the book?  Did you enjoy the television series?  I’d love to hear from you!

Rumor has it that another Friday Night Lights movie is in the works….

On a personal note, I was born and raised in Midland, Texas and I’m a proud Midland Lee Rebel.  My father graduated from the first ever senior class at Midland Lee, as did my brother before me, and now my oldest nephew is a freshman.  My mother has taught at Midland Lee for a long time (no years, I promise…you wouldn’t believe me if I told you), but not before graduating from Odessa Permian and participating on the Mojo Pep Squad.  

Friday Night Lights, while fictional, does not stray far from the truth, and I highly recommend it to anyone attempting to understand the severity of high school football in West Texas.  I was a student trainer in high school, and I remember a man who traveled in his trailer to watch the Midland Lee versus the Odessa Permian football game because he read Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream.  I grew up watching Lee play, lived the annual showdown with Permian, and was shocked that someone from thousands of miles away would drive just to watch high school kids play football. 

West Texas football is a big deal.  Maybe we’re crazy?  But, we’re proud.


24 Replies to “Friday FabOoolousness – Friday Night Flicks for Fall: Friday Night Lights”

  1. I think it’s safe to say that football rules all over the great state of Texas!! Being from South Texas, it was a pretty big deal. My uncle was the head football coach at my high school and are whole family would turn out for the games (even those w/out kids in high school.) Yesterday I made the comment that I’d like to be part of the athletic boosters at the local high school here in VA, just so I can be part of the football games!

  2. I grew up with South Texas football. It’s a big deal there too. Money flowed to the athletics dept, and the athletics dept was football. (Meanwhile, I was wearing a band uniform from 1962, I think.) We had a great team for a couple of my years in high school, and it was fun winning. But I also know that there was a lot of pressure on the coach and players to make that happen. I believe in sports as a great way to train kids for teamwork, self-discipline, and physical activity, but it can get a little crazy sometimes. (Then again, I’m a baseball fan. Right now, go RANGERS!)

    1. I never wore a band uniform – do they itch? They look itchy. I agree that sports are a great way to train children for other lessons in life like teamwork and self-discipline, also how to deal with success and failure. Very well said, Julie! Thanks for stopping by – and we’re hoping the Rangers win game 6 and bring the World Series back to Dallas for a 2nd year in a row!

  3. Football was a not a huge sport where I grew up but I loved the TV series. I hadn’t heard about the movie, weird, but will definitely check it out! Thanks for sharing – woot woot – happy weekend!

  4. Football was a pretty big deal in Middle-of-No-Where rural Michigan, too….mostly because there really wasn’t much else to do! I wasn’t very into it myself, so I’ve never really gotten into sports themed movies and TV shows and books…usually, if there was a movie day in class, it was a sports movie and I swear, if I had to watch Rudy ONE. MORE. TIME….

    I have to admit, though, I loved (and sometimes miss) Friday night football games if only because they were always THE social event of the community, and there’s such an interesting dynamic in that.

    1. Rudy is a fantastic story and movie. The last high school game I went to was a few years ago for my reunion. I took my guy with me and he couldn’t believe the thirteen or so thousand in attendance. Actually, I think he’s one of the ones who think we’re crazy in West Texas. LOL – thanks for stopping by, L.S.!

  5. I’ve seen the film and read the book. Even though I don’t like football, I liked both of them. I found them a truthful and compelling picture of How it Really Is. Several years ago, I did an internet search and found the real people who were portrayed in the movie. The website I found showed where they ended up and even had commentary on how they viewed that time in their lives. Very interesting.

    Growing up in East Texas, it wasn’t much different. Football was a very, very big deal. I missed seeing just how big of a deal it was by ignoring it. Last week, you called me a rebel. I think it was a form of rebellion to dislike football and to ignore everything that went along with it.

    Great topic. You did a good job with it. 😀

    1. I would love to see the article on Where Are They Now. I remember seeing a little bit about it when the movie was in production and recently released, but I’ve slept since then. Hahaha. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by, Catie!

      Oh, and being called a Rebel isn’t a bad thing…as you read, I’m one too! Just maybe a bit of a different kind….

  6. I’m a band nerd. I sat through twelve years of football (ok, a few more since I went to a few of my brother’s games & went to an Appalachian State football game), four years of marching band for me, four each for my daughters and I still don’t have a clue. I’m not sure I should admit I have never seen a Super Bowl game.

    When I was in the band I sat talking with my friends and studying the music. With my daughters I watched the band and read a book at the games getting the evil eye from some of the people sitting around me. I could never understand or get into the game, always asking why we were standing up and yelling. On the other hand I love a good basketball game, especially college basketball.

    The funny thing is I have seen Friday Night Lights and other sports movies. My husband loves to watch these type films and I’ve come to like them, too. This movie had a great storyline driven by some wonderful characters. Tim McGraw’s character was an awesome b@st@rd. I did not see the tv show or read the book, didn’t even know they existed.

    Kyle Petty was in band with me and we used to think it was weird for people to come up and ask for his autograph when we were at competitions. As it turns out they knew more than we did although I think he did sign my annual. So maybe the guy who travelled so far knew something you didn’t or was just inspired by something in the book only he could see.

  7. Football is a big deal in SE Tennessee. Go Vols! 🙂 And that all starts in high school around here.

    One of the things I like about Friday Night Lights is Lucas Black. Because I LOVE to hear him talk. (He was great, when he was younger, in Sling Blade.) He’s one actor that sounds more southern than I do! LOL

    1. I do love a good southern accent, Lauralynn! I think of all the performances in FNL, I was most impressed with Tim McGraw. He portrayed his character’s flaws like a pro, even though he’s a musician. I’m always amazed at just how talented actors/musicians are – it seems they can do it all. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Cool. Another good flick to put in the queue. Just curious – what’s a student trainer?

    I think our football team always made it to CIF (state championships), but I only went to the games to socialize and hang out with my friends. The football team at the high school my son will go to is hyper into the game, so I guess I should start getting the gear.

    1. A student trainer is a student version of an athletic trainer. We manage the teams injuries, rehabilitation, and nourishment mostly. Our school didn’t have team managers so we also handled the equipment. I fell into it after dislocating my knee in the 9th grade playing basketball. After the first couple of weeks of rehabilitation at the physical therapist’s office, I transferred over to the high school. I fell in love with student training at that moment. After I was healed and released, I signed right up! Thanks for stopping by, Tameri!

  9. Arrrgh! SPORTS MOVIE! SPORTS MOVIE! RUN AND HIDE….In fact, don’t run, walk. And get a doughnut on the way. And then watch some Sci-Fi instead of getting healthy exercise….Oh yeah, feeling better now.

    Thanks for that Tiff!

    1. Ah, Damian! You crack me up. Thank you so much for stopping by! I’ve missed seeing you around the web. I did notice you have a new blog post and I plan to check that out today! I hope all is well. 🙂

  10. There is something about West Texas and high-school football, and I must admit that I myself, born and raised in southwestern Colorado, have always associated those two things — associated them, I should add, in a curiously pleasant way.

    And yet there’s this movie I once saw, several years ago, about Robert E. Howard — creator of Conan the Barbarian — that’s set in west Texas. The movie is so beautiful and so poignant that now it (more than football) is what I think of when I think of western Texas.

    The movie is called The Whole Wide World.

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