Monday, March 16, 2009

Friday Night Lights / “College” on TV

Friday Night Lights is the one show on TV that I make it a point to watch. (If I miss an episode, I catch it online.) Set in Dillon, TX, the high school football drama captures the coming of age of a cast of characters more authentic than anywhere else in tv-land.

The aspiration of college-going and the striving towards college is a consistent theme of the show. For Lyla, Landry, Smash, and Tyra, college is the way out of provincial football-obsessed Dillon.

In the most recent episode, Riggins, the star running back who has partied away his high school years, is offered an on-the-spot athletic scholarship to a Texas state college by a football scout. Paraphrasing, Riggins says to his girlfriend, “You know, there’s paperwork to complete, but it’s basically a done deal.” The double-standard in admissions for college athletes and the irresponsibility of college scouting is vivid.

The most tragic part of Riggins’s college acceptance is his lack of college readiness. If there was a “College Years” sequel to FNL, a story line would be Riggins’ complete lack of college preparation and its consequences, i.e., struggles with grades and problems with meeting academic eligibility standards for athletics.

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