Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Q & A with a Fantastic Fan of Friday Night Lights

Carina Mackenzie of http://www.zap2it.com/ (@cadlymack on twitter) gets a lot of the credit for my current obsession with the BRILLIANCE that is Friday Night Lights. And, as I hear it from many of my friends, I’m not the only one she convinced to check into this gift of a television show. Her twitter exchange about FNL with Julie Plec (@julieplec from The Vampire Diaries) was, for me, something I looked forward to every week, even without watching the show. And, now that I’ve seen it all from start to finish (in what must be record breaking time), I’m dying to know Carina’s every thought on Friday Night Lights!

I know this show is a great passion of yours. Have you watched from the beginning or did you have a friend turn you on to it?
C: I watched it from the beginning. The movie screened at my school when I was a freshman in college – I probably wouldn't have seen it, except it was free, and I was totally in love with it. So when the show started, I made sure my ass was parked on the couch for premiere night. I remember being actually confused by the pilot – even though I recognized Kyle Chandler from "Early Edition," and I knew he was an actor, I did not understand how this show could possibly be scripted. It was shot so much like a doc, and the acting felt so genuine.

FNL is very different from anything I’ve seen on TV in my life time and I have seen a LOT of TV. What do you think makes it so special?
C: If I could put a finger on what makes "Friday Night Lights" so special, I'd be a better writer and a better critic. It's hard to nail it down, though. I think mostly, it comes down to honesty. They remain steadfastly true to the characters they've created and, more importantly, to the town. They tell stories that are ugly if that's how they would've really happened. There's no bending the rules of the people or the place just to make way for a neat ending or a big, TV-friendly moment. If this was a typical TV show, Tim and Lyla would've ended up together, Jason would've had some miracle surgery, Matt Saracen would've gone on to be a football star who could afford to buy his grandmother the universe. This isn't that show, and that's why I love it.

This show has a PLETHORA of tear educing moments. Is there one moment you can remember that makes you cry harder than all the others?
C: Well, I cried so much through the finale that I barely saw what was happening on screen, but I think the moment that made me cry the absolute most was Tim saying goodbye to Jason in New Jersey. It was perfect. A tiny part of me is still really bitter that we didn't get to see Tim and Jason together in Season 5, but again, that's not this show – and at least I have that perfect goodbye to hold onto.

This show was very well reviewed but never great in numbers. Is there anything marketing wise you would have don differently in order to better share the greatness?
C: I honestly don't think this show ever would've done fantastic numbers, even with a perfect marketing campaign. It was too different from anything on television, and it challenged viewers a little too much. It made you hurt, and I think that when a lot of people sit down to watch TV, they only want the highs, not the lows. I just want to feel something strong – I don't care whether it's heartbreak or elation. I know there are other people out there like me, but I think most people just want to be entertained, not challenged.

One of my favorite things about FNL is all different relationships. Give me your thoughts on a few of the most prominent pairings:

Tami & Eric Taylor:
C: Can they adopt me? It's such an underrated thing, but there's this episode where Tami basically finds her dream house in Dillon, and Eric has to tell her that no, they can't afford it, they can't take the risk. I thought this was the best portrayal of the real struggles in marriage. I mean – my parents are divorced and I'm only 24 and not married, so it's not like I'm the expert on the subject, but these two were the most "real" couple on TV. I think when most TV shows try to give a married couple juicy stories, they introduce third parties and the threat of infidelity, or unwanted pregnancies, or secrets/lies. Not "Friday Night Lights." They never cheapened the relationship. The inability to afford a house was story enough.

Lyla & Jason:
C: Here's the thing – I can't actually separate Lyla and Jason's relationship from their relationship with Tim. This was a triangle like none I'd ever really seen on television in that yes, Jason loved Lyla and Tim loved Lyla, but Tim and Jason loved each other just as much. She never came between them for more than a few weeks if you go by the timeline of the season. My favorite moment in the whole show is when they're in Mexico and they're exhausted and dancing and she kisses both of them. These three people are all so in love with each other that they could never be fully happy as long as they stayed wrapped up in each other. It's royally fucked up, but it's really beautiful in a sort of desperately sad way.

Tim & Tyra:
C: Tyra could do better than Tim, and Tim knows that. I think by the series finale, though, she's planted this idea in his head that one day he could be better. Listen, Tim Riggins is never going to be the great love of Tyra's life. He represents a lot that she ran away from. But I think there's something to be said for the fact that her leaving Dillon means that he, potentially, could be bigger than Dillon, too. I'm not sure he wants to be, but he could be. He'll be the guy she sleeps with every time she comes home, and they'll be okay with that.

Matt & Julie:
C: HE PROPOSED TO HER OUTSIDE THE ALAMO FREEZE. Okay, this is the part where I was like "this show has made me a better person." I'm from Connecticut, okay? I'm about as blue blooded as it gets. I'm liberal as fuck and I think everybody should be allowed to get married but only idiots actually do it. If I knew someone who got engaged when they were 19 I would judge them so, so hard. And yet, somehow, I watched Matt Saracen get down on one knee and I was like "Yes, this is perfect, this is exactly how this should go." I love them. I mean, she was pretty much a disaster and when Coach said they weren't mature enough to get married, I think what he really meant was that SHE wasn't mature enough to get married, but whatever. Matt Saracen can settle for Julie Taylor any day. I'm happy.

Tim & Jason:
C: See Lyla & Jason. Also, Texas Forever. "I'm the caretaker, Streeter." For me, this is what the show was about. I'm devastated by the fact that the scene where Riggins is building his house in the series finale was filmed with both Billy and Jason, and they decided to go with Billy. It's the one wrong this show has ever done me.

Tyra & Landry:
C: LOVE. Not for, like, a forever, thing, but for a high school thing. They both made each other more confident. Her college entrance essay made me ugly cry for days.

Tami & Julie:
C: Tami reminded me a lot of my mom. I think that the way Tami had to almost give herself permission to be disappointed in her daughter once in a while was very brave and telling. One of my favorite scenes is when she takes Julie to get the tattoo removed, and they end up talking instead. Those confessions of imperfection are incredible.

Tim & Lyla:
C: I think I said everything I need to say about this one above – but really, I think that Tim/Lyla was mostly about how thoroughly and desperately they loved Street. I think they both represented who Street was before the accident and when they couldn't fit into his lives the same way, they tried to make room in their lives for each other instead.

Favorite episode:
C: Probably the series finale, except for that glaring Streetless imperfection.

Favorite character:
C: Riggins. Not even in a shallow way. For me, other than the Coach, Riggins is the hero of this story.

Favorite moment:
C: The Y Tu Mama moment in Mexico. I watched it and suddenly felt that I understood the characters in exactly the same way the writers did.

Moment, character, & storyline you hated the very most throughout the 5 seasons:
C: When Julie drove off with the Swede I wanted her to keep driving off a cliff. My least favorite character was Hastings Ruckle, because Grey Damon was a series regular that was heavily promoted, but they never did anything with him, and Billy/Mindy should've been regulars instead. My least favorite storyline was Saracen's grandma's nurse. Blech.

You once told me that watching Friday Night Lights would be “life changing.” And indeed it has been. What else would you like to share with people who might be hesitating to watch?
C: Nothing. It's off the air now so I don't really feel the need to browbeat people into tuning in. Now it's almost this little secret, these five boxes of DVDs that hold the meaning of life and only the people who have seen it can understand what it means.

How did you feel about the finale? Did it do the show justice? Did it end as you had hoped?
C: Yes, I loved it. I'm not really ready to talk about it though. I'M STILL HEALING.

Any final thoughts for fellow FNL fans?
C: Clear eyes! Full hearts! Also, Luke and Vince were epic and I don't know why you didn't ask me about them but THEY WERE EPIC EPIC EPIC. I loved their friendship so much.

[This is me recognizing my short comings. I suck. Vince and Luke were so much awesome. I suck, I suck, I suck.]

Huge thanks to Carina!

Also want to send a shout out to my dear friend Amy (@tvgirl222) another big reason I finally clued in to watch this AMAZING show! Thanks Amy!

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