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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Plenty of online discourse regarding Friday Night Lights‘ fourth season has centered on its increasing resemblance to The Wire, which seems inevitable considering the appearance of not one but two Wire alums who have shown up alive—and, well, if not happy then at least breathing—in East Dillon, leading Vulture’s Andy Greenwald (my favorite FNL recapper by a longshot, because who else but the author of Nothing Feels Good can snark that Julie’s Habit for Humanity guy looks like someone in All Time Low?) to christen it The Wire: West Texas. The comparison is valid, of course, as no other show has picked up The Wire‘s mantle of entwining community politics, various societal issues, and personal dramas in concurrent, reflexive narrative strands. The only difference really is that The Wire‘s resolutions have always seemed neat (which is fitting considering the show is influenced by Greek tragedy), whereas FNL has always been much messier (which is fitting considering the show is influenced by, what, Austin indie- and post-rock?). I would like to say that I saw this happening last year, though. But it’s easier to point out when there are black people on the tv, eh Variety?

Aside from that faux pas, Brian Lowry’s article is full of so many on-the-money insights that it makes you want to shout “Hallelujah!” One of my favorites is this comparison between the two shows:

As for other areas of overlap, the fact that the two series have been largely ignored by Emmy voters speaks to a kind of myopia within that organization. While it’s impossible to collectively put members on the couch, the TV academy has historically had trouble identifying stand-out work by younger or minority performers — two categories represented in abundance on each of these shows.

Aside from large ensemble casts that make it difficult to single out individual players, these programs are so sharply executed by the casts and writing staffs as to make the characterizations look almost too easy, as if the performers must be barely acting at all.

Which is absolutely right on. But as with both shows, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that, by the end, both will have had five glorious seasons of impeccable drama (my two favorite shows ever), and considering FNL‘s start, that’s as much of a miracle as the show’s expansion from great television to great art.