Part Two of Can Any Show Survive Jumping the Shark?


            Friday Night Lights had two small weaknesses throughout the course of its five-year run.  The first was a tendency to devolve into melodrama and the other was its somewhat understandable yet pathological need to end nearly every episode with an improbable last minute victory for the good guys.  I mention my small complaints at the outset partly because I like complaining about things, but also to highlight just how great the show was as a whole, that these are about the only two faults (and minor ones at that) I found with a tremendous show, one of the best in the last decade.  

            Having said that, FNL absolutely and unequivocally jumped the shark in season two.  Season one was terrific, but as with many great shows a bit of a sophomore slump ensued, and the slump took the form of the ridiculous Tyra/Landry murder/romance storyline, and this absurdity wasn’t helped by the Riggins-crosses-a-meth-dealer-nonsense and/or the more predictably boring star-player-takes-steroids-yawnfest.

            The WGA strike shortened that particular season, which provides a serious asterik, as FNL may have written themselves out of trouble with a few more episodes to play with but simply never had the chance because Canada’s leadership fought to get me my Bennigan’s coupons.[1]  Regardless of the reasons, FNL had undeniably lost its way.

            And then just as quickly found their footing.  So many shows revolving around high schoolers make the choice to continue with the same cast long after graduation, with predictably poor results, but FNL tackled (ha!) that problem by giving small multi-episode arcs within the third season to write off older characters.  This way the show remained focused on the insular world of West Texas football rather than any specific character inhabiting it.  In a television landscape that seems to go bigger and louder as a matter of principle, FNL spent their post shark jump seasons indulging in scenes of elegiac understatement. 


             Texas forever. 

            Coming soon, in Part Three – Sportsnight…


Part One

[1] This is very funny for those who have seen this episode of South Park – –



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