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Saturday, April 4, 2009

39: The Big Game

Well, it's Saturday night, and I was all excited for back-to-back basketball games that would fill my Saturday with excitement and emotion. It's the final four of the NCAA tourney! And while the first game of the day had some excitement, the second game has been so one-sided that I actually watched a DVR-ed television show about sports to get at some of the excitement and emotion that actual young people playing amateur sports in real time in real life was not providing. The show in question, that was a salve for the disappointment of the second game's Carolina dominance (congrats Heels), is the fantastic, underrated, and thank-goodness-renewed, Friday Night Lights (airing on NBC every Friday! Season finale next week!).

Based on the book and movie of the same name, I came to this show a season after its appearance on television, and have been absolutely smitten ever since. I tried watching a few episodes of season one, but the characters had progressed so much since then that I couldn't go back, because it seemed like there was no way these could be the people I knew so well as I knew them in season two. This season, I have cried or at least had tears well up in my eyes for a moment EVERY EPISODE. (My record episode was the 4-cry episode when Saracen tried to find his mom). And I am not one to get choked up at every Hallmark ad. In fact some would say I'm an unfeeling shrew, so for me to be crying at t.v. this much, something has got to be good.

Though the show has a rabid fan-base, it has been nearly canceled multiple times, and finally just got renewed in a monumental two season deal that has fans overjoyed. It is almost bittersweet, however, as this season's episodes seem like they were written with the expectations of cancellation, and characters that we've grown to love are having to face change, tough decisions, old love and new love, and the impending pain of change, the loss of high school innocence and the permanence of that old saying "You can never go home again." This season the writers seemed as though they were resigned to the fate of cancellation, and therefore went ahead and wrote the most realistic, powerful, and fantastic episodes for their characters yet. No bells and whistles and cheap ploys that seemed like network executive-forced storylines (last year there was a murder) are involved. Just characters acting, reacting, talking, and living with one another and themselves and the silences that actually exist in life as we would expect them to.

It's for this reason that I am still astounded the show, which is fabulously written, also has not won more actual statuettes for actors on the show. Realism is HARD. And this ensemble is so proficient at interacting with one another like actual residents and students in a small Texas town obsessed with football that the may be too good for their own good. One actor is going to play Gambit in the Wolverine Origins movie and my reaction to that news was not "Oh that actor got a movie!" it was "Riggins (his character's name on FNL) is in a movie!" Like the senior in high school is going to be leaving Texas for a bit to go make a movie, how great for him! If I were to see any of these actors in real life, I would only be able to relate to them as their characters unless I did some real real real hard work to pull myself together.

Proof of this statement.

I don't know if it was the fourth of July or Memorial Day, but I was in a supermarket near my house, the same supermarket I go to to buy the same 10 products every week, talking on the phone with my friend about an impending barbecue that day. As I came around the corner from the greeting cards aisle, trying to make a beeline to the beer, I came square upon Saracen, the team's quarterback at the time, and a kid who was also busy earning a diploma from the high school of hard knocks. And did I mention he's my favorite?

I immediately started whispering to my friend on the phone, also an FNL fan, and am sure I made a face that said "HOLY CRAP YOU'RE SARACEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THE GROCERY STORE would it be weird if I approached?" I noticed Saracen was pushing a cart overflowing with what looked like what one would need to have a very successful barbecue for the tiny, cute blonde who looked about 18 he was accompanying. I knew it would be weird if I had approached.

When my friends started complaining that she could no longer hear what I was saying and was concerned that something was wrong, I told her I'd have to hang up and text her. "Saracen is in the store" was my message. "Oh my GOD!!!!" was her reply.

I then proceeded to the fresh flowers walk-in cooler where I went to browse for roses...a.k.a. talk openly without being afraid I'd be caught being a crazy-eyed fan by one of a t.v. show's stars. I explained the situation. I explained that he looked normal, pretty much just like he did on the show, and was wearing normal people clothes not douchebag Hollywood star clothes, and was with a very hot girl, also, as should be the case. My friend thought I should talk to him anyway. I realized she was right.

I left the flower cooler and began casually browsing aisle after aisle, aisles on which I needed no items - aisles for pet owners, adults with bladder control problems, garden tools - all for the love of a show and one of its under-praised stars. I did not find him on aisles, unattended by his blonde. I finally spotted him in a checkout line, verrrry much in the service of his blonde. Very much trying to navigate the checkout process.

It would have been gawker-stalker-like to approach. The blonde would have shot me death glares. He might have responded badly. I said nothing. I kept shopping.

UGH!!!! Regret regret regret!!!

Now I HOPE he's on the wine aisle. And I hope it's a day when I'm wearing my Friday Night Lights t-shirt. And I hope that I won't care what hot girl he's with or how embarrassing he may be, I will say "Thank you for making excellent, compelling, believable television. You are a fantastic actor on a fantastic show, which is a phenomenon that is becoming more and more rare on network t.v. My thanks to you and your cast and your writers for your great work."

And if he didn't seem too freaked out, I'd probably add, "Also, I'm in love with you."

I'm sure nothing bad could come out of that. There are other grocery stores if I end up banned for life from that one.
And maybe Riggins shops there...



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