As a New York Democrat, I’m often accused, mostly by op-eds and a red-faced Jeffrey Lord, of living in a liberal bubble that prevents me from seeing what the rest of the country is really like. However, I’ll have you know that I’ve seen all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, so I know a little something about Middle America.
From a two-bedroom brownstone in Park Slope, a loft in Chelsea, or a town house in the Village, anybody can pour themselves a glass of wine, turn on their Apple TV, and escape to the football town of Dillon, Texas. And just like that the bubble has popped. After five seasons I’m practically a Dillon Panther fan myself, y’all — though I usually fast forward through the football scenes.
They’re not all that different from us. They like football like we like Hamilton. They eat barbecue while we eat artisanal bagel hybrids. They revere Panthers’ players the way we revere Elizabeth Warren. They keep indoor furniture on the lawn and patio furniture in the living room, while we tend to do the opposite. No one lifestyle is better than the other; they’re simply different.
Now of course, questions run through my mind about our two differing worlds when watching the show: What about separation of church and state? Has Riggins ever watched Will and Grace? Does this school have a brutally underfunded theater program? Would any of these characters care about La La Land? Do they know what a Lenny Letter is, and if so, could they tell me?
The people of Dillon don’t have to fear that the Huffington Post will label them as problematic, nor do they have to worry about getting accepted into the Pantsuit Nation. Friday Night Lights shows viewers exactly what life is like in the 48 states that aren’t New York or California in an incredibly accurate, detailed way that doesn’t at all generalize.
Viewers are able to see what real-life Republicans look like, played by the well-known Hollywood elites we’re used to. If the colloquialisms ever become overwhelming, just remind yourself that the coach is the brother from Manchester By the Sea.
But I resent the idea that living in cities makes you disconnected from the rest of the country. I’ve met people from all over this great nation living in New York, all of whom voted for Hillary Clinton. When you get right down to it, you know what the only difference between us and the characters in Friday Night Lights is? Most things.
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Different views.