Stunted Adults

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Tim Riggins Is Ruining My Career

Next week, I have a VERY IMPORTANT work moment.  It involves putting on a suit, standing in front of a large crowd, and advocating for a position that will severely impact the rest of someone else’s life all while being interrogated by a panel of very smart people.

So, in light of having to face that special kind of professional hell in the near future, I need to focus and prepare.

One of the main pieces of my presentation involves discussing a legal case named United States v. Veal.

Whenever I say the word Veal, all I can think about is Anne Veal from Arrested Development.

Her?

Her?

And then I think about Amber Holt, who is the character that Mae Whitman plays on Parenthood.

No one knows how to make me cry like Amber.

No one knows how to make me cry like Amber.

And then I think about Amber’s ex-fiancée Ryan York.

My heart is breaking all over again.

My heart is breaking all over again.

And then I think about Luke Cafferty, who Matt Lauria played on Friday Night Lights.

Clear Eyes.  Full Hearts. Can't Lose!

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose!

And then I end up daydreaming about Tim Riggins.

All roads lead to you.

All roads in my brain lead to you.

SERIOUSLY.

I just lost 45 minutes of my day to Riggins.

At this rate, my entire presentation is going to be “Dear Important People, I know I am supposed to be talking about mortgage fraud, but, instead, let me tell you about what Texas Forever means to me.”

I’m screwed.

I am going to need to fake both blindness and a pregnancy if I have any hope of winning.

I am going to need to fake both blindness and a pregnancy to have any hope of winning.


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Good Friends Living Large In Texas Forever

Although its been years since it went off the air, I still cannot get over just how damn good Friday Night Lights is.

So damn good.

Good lord do I miss y'all.

Good lord do I miss y’all.

There are so many things that made that show amazing — the whisper yell, Coach Taylor’s pep talks, Landry’s surprising comedic flair, Tami Taylor’s hair — but one thing stands out.  The characters.  Friday Night Lights wasn’t a show about football.  It was a show about complicated people living in a seemingly simple place.

Indeed, these characters were so good, so damn good, that they did not disappear when network executives put an untimely end to their story.

Instead, much like the cast of the similarly phenomenal yet underrated Freaks and Geeks, the Friday Night Lights team has found a way to keep the story of their characters and the essence of Dillon, Texas alive despite having their show was taken away.

As Riggins predicted, they would all be “good friends living large in Texas forever.”

Slide1

This kid always suits up and takes the field no matter what physical or mental illness he’s quietly battling.

For example, when we left Dillon, Luke Cafferty was on his way to the military.  When we pick up with him again he’s on Parenthood, which as you all know I love, as Sergeant Ryan York.  Luke/Ryan has completed two tours in Afghanistan with the United States Army.  We see how Luke/Ryan copes with the difficult aftermath of returning from war and how he has grown up to be a stronger and more confident person.  But, he’s still the same guy — seemingly simple on the surface but deeply complicated — and his love affair with Amber and mentor relationship with Zeek Braverman bring back his very best moments with his high school love Becky and with Coach Taylor. He’s still just a man desperately searching for his home.

Slide2

Did you learn nothing from Riggins? Of course sleeping with Crosby is going to ruin everything!

When we last saw Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights, she had finally found a way to move on from Riggins and left for a bright future at Vanderbilt University.  She certainly put that educational opportunity to good use, because she came to Parenthood as Gaby Moss, a top-notch child behavioral therapist who worked with autistic children.  Lyla/Gabby is still sweet as can be, and you can tell she’s trying really hard to make the right choices.  But, she hasn’t been able to kick her bad habit of throwing all consequences to the wind after a few drinks and ending up in bed with the long-haired misunderstood bad boy.

Slide3

One of these days, you’ll finally be able to move on from your past.

Post-high school Vince Howard is still wrestling with his demons.  Vince also came back to us on Parenthood where he’s Alex, a teenager with no family, a criminal record, and a battle with alcoholism.  Vince/Alex is still a great person at heart and he is still really, truly fighting to be better and make everyone proud.  But, he just can’t shake his penchant for self-destruction that remains both infuriating and endearing.  Just as with Jess on Friday Night Lights, Vince/Alex finds himself smart enough to fall for Haddie Braverman, a woman who is intelligent, ambitious, and fantastic, but he’s not smart enough to stop from sabotaging the entire relationship with a moment of sheer stupidity.  All you can do with Vince/Alex is keep rooting that next time around he’ll finally get it right, because he’s a kid who deserves to get it right.

Slide4

Can we just elect Jess Merriweather as president already?

On the current season of Parenthood, we finally get to see what happened to Jess Merriweather.  Of course the girl who fought to be a football coach and not just a cheerleader watching from the sidelines turned out to be a bad ass fast talking campaign manager named Heather who got Obama elected and then swooped in to save Kristina Braverman’s mayoral campaign.  Jess/Heather’s domination of Vince Howard and Coach Taylor were just her warm-up for her future ability to use pure grit and ambition to get whatever she set her sights on.  No one puts Jess/Heather in the corner.

Beyond the Parenthood universe, two of my absolute Friday Night Lights favorites have also found a way to visit me every week.

New sunglasses, same exasperated look.

New sunglasses, same exasperated look.

Nashville has shown what Tami Taylor would do if she wasn’t a football coach’s wife who revolutionized education in small town Texas.  She would be Rayna James Country Music Superstar, obviously.  Have you seen that woman’s hair?  Have you seen her spunky attitude?  Have you seen that look she gets on her face when she’s been wronged and she is damn well going to do something about it?  Tami/Rayna was made to belt out songs about heartbreak and taking charge while strutting around in stilettos.  And, of course, she still makes time amongst all her taking names and kicking asses to help out any wayward girls who cross her path.  Juliette Barnes is totally her new Tyra Collette, right down to the troubled family, bad decisions about men, and surprising raw talent.

Slide6

Every thought that Jason Street and George Tucker has is deep and meaningful.

One of my current CW guilty pleasures, Hart of Dixie, allows me to catch up with Jason Street, who now goes by George Tucker, but is the same old good guy who just wants to do right and make his small town better.  Street/Tucker is still prone to getting his heart broken by the small town’s Queen B with the important daddy and the perfect ponytail who inevitably cheats on him with his best friend.  Lemon Breeland is 2013’s Lila Garrity.  He also has not learned his lesson about the perils of befriending his small town’s local drunken and brooding loner who can’t get out of his own way.  Wade Kinsella is what happens when you make Tim Riggins tween-friendly.

I absolutely love that I know how all of these characters have evolved.  I love knowing that, when I turn off their latest television appearance, I’m not saying goodbye to them.  I know that they will always be back, and I can’t wait to see them again.

I’ve spent hours pondering how the Friday Night Lights characters have had such staying power.  Is it because Friday Night Lights and Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims hired actors who are actually, in real life, the very residents that he imagined inhabiting Dillon, Texas?  Or is it because those characters were just so damn good and complex that the actors and Katims are unwilling to let them go?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether its one or the other, or some magical combo platter of both.  All that matters is that this all exists.

Texas Forever.