Friday Night Lights On My Mind

“I always find it intriguing to catch even a glimpse of how the world views Christians.”

That’s how I started an October 17th EZINE article about NBC’s Friday Night Lights … and so the saga continues.

In review… I loved the show last year. But this year it has seemed to try a little too hard to shock us with murder, backstabbing, and scandal of all shapes and sizes. If anything, the show has lost its realistic feel that it had in Season One.

But one thing has perked my interest- not necessarily in a good way- more like, “Oh no… where are they going with this?!” …that is in the character of Lyla Garrity who accepted Jesus. Since my October article, we have now seen Lyla do some actions that made me cringe, and others that were pretty realistic. A few episodes ago she brought another character (Riggins) to church- a guy that was the last guy you’d expect in church- and we saw something happen to him. It wasn’t vivid, but it was almost as if seeds were planted. Not at all what you’d expect from a TV show!

In the last episode Lyla started working for a Christian radio station hosting a show where Christian young people call in for advice. I looked at my wife Lori when each call came in and said, “Let’s see how they write this Christian answer to a tough question.” Lyla answered “is oral sex okay” (they kind of side-stepped that one), and “should I worry when people make fun of me for praying at school,” etc.

I’m torn. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a network show have a Christian character that they didn’t seem to mock (Studio 60 might have claimed to do that last year, but… don’t get me started on that one.) Lyla actually is given a good amount of screen time. And even though I don’t agree with everything she’s doing… they seem to be putting her in a positive light.

Well… like it or not, FNL’s attempts to woo audiences haven’t worked.

This New York Times article said yesterday:

All the while, the show is a bona fide washout. Six or so million people watch “Friday Night Lights,” compared with around 13 million for NBC’s hit “Heroes.” No single episode has ever broken the Top 50 most-viewed prime-time shows. In popularity, it lags far behind “Dancing With the Stars,” “Deal or No Deal” and “The Bachelor.” Even now that the Nielsen ratings try to account for viewers who digitally record a show and watch it within a week of its air date (affluent viewers, perhaps?), the show’s numbers are lousy.

So FNL fans should probably prepare themselves… it ain’t gonna last. In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on the show. I enjoy seeing my favorite characters from last season (Coach, Riggins, and Smash’s mom), and I’m biting my nails as I watch what becomes of the lone Christian Lyla Garrity.


About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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