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Seven Reasons You Should Binge on “Friday Night Lights” This Weekend

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It's better than Mad Men. Yeah, I said it.

Friday Night Lights

I avoided watching Friday Night Lights, like most people, because I have no interest in football. People told me there was so much to the show than just football, but I never believed them. But one boring night I saw that Netflix was streaming each of Friday Night Lights' four seasons. Three weeks later, I had gone through all four, and I'm anxiously waiting like a junkie for the show's fifth season to premiere. So, I'm here as the converted to give you the seven reasons you need to catch up on Friday Night Lights before the final season airs. There are sixty-three episodes in the first four seasons, at about forty-three minutes a piece; it'll be tough, but if you start now, you should be ready to go by the season premiere on October 27th.

Minka Kelly1) Minka Kelly is the sexiest woman alive
You'd be hard-pressed to find a cast as beautiful as this show's, but Minka Kelly is especially gorgeous. And now that Esquire has named her "Sexiest Woman Alive," everyone is aware of what fans of Lights have known for years. If the story isn't grabbing you (though it will), you'll at least have something to look at.

2) The show really isn't just about football
Yes, it's true. On paper, Friday Night Lights may be a show about high-school football in a small Texas town, but in execution, the show is so much more. It's really about life in a small town where high-school football is the only thing that gets kids attention from the world, before spitting them back out once the team is done with them. It's a nuanced story about having life plateau at eighteen. With its great character development and engrossing plotlines, the whole thing is basically The Last Picture Show with people who look like they belong in an Abercrombie catalog.

3) Coach Taylor gives amazing speeches
That Kyle Chandler has not won an Emmy for his work as Coach Eric Taylor is absolutely criminal. Taylor is not your average high-school football coach. (For starters, he's never taught a history or driver's-ed course.) But if more schools had coaches like him, we'd all play football. Sports speeches are usually hackneyed and forgettable, but I wouldn't be surprised if real-life coaches are cribbing notes from Lights' scripts. I hope there's an online petition to get President Obama to end every speech with "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."

4) There's a lesbian plotline that's not a cheap ratings grab
On most network TV shows, gay characters are brought out for "a very special episode" and never heard from or seen again. On Lights, we have Devin (played by Stephanie Hunt), a indie-rock bassist with a sardonic wit. Originally introduced in the show's third season as a possible love interest for the geeky but lovable Landry (Jesse Plemons), she eventually comes out to him and the two remain friends.

5) Season Three is one of the best seasons of TV ever
Because of the writers' strike, season two ended abruptly with much of that year's plot left hanging. In the third season, we get pushed ahead a full year. The characters are faced with what life holds for them after football, and whether or not they can make it out of town. Season three is also where most of the original cast got a proper sendoff, since we don't know yet if anyone from the class that graduated in season three will reappear in the final season.

6) The "Mud Bowl" episode is stunning
This is the show's finest moment. I don't want to get too far into spoilers, but I think this episode alone is responsible for Lights' improbable survival despite continually bad ratings.

7) Taylor Kitsch is heartbreaking as Tim Riggins
Kyle Chandler is probably the best actor on Lights, but it's Taylor Kitsch as the born-to-lose running back Tim Riggins who will break your heart. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's no slouch to look at. Women want him and men want, well, men want him, too! A borderline alcoholic, Riggins is the character you'll most want to succeed. Witnessing his ups and downs would be emotionally unbearable if the show weren't so brilliant.