Local Lifestyle

Thursday, Jan 03 2013 11:57 AM

HERB BENHAM: There is a 'Lights' that never goes out

By The Bakersfield Californian

A few days ago, we celebrated and mourned while watching the last two episodes of "Friday Night Lights." I remember when "The West Wing" ended, "The Wonder Years," and "Thirtysomething." You almost dreaded the end. Counselors tell you there is life on the other side, but who can be sure?

We ordered five seasons of "Friday Night Lights" on Netflix and we put off finishing the last two episodes because life without it seemed bleaker than a Norwegian winter.

"I can't believe you have the DVD in the house and you're not watching it right now," said a friend who was over for dinner.

We looked at each other. He was right, we were stalling. After dinner, we sat down and stalled no more.

I know TV is make-believe, or that's what some people will tell you, but saying goodbye to Coach Eric Taylor, Tami, Tyra, Riggins, Matt, Julie, Billy, Buddy and Street was like waving goodbye to the kids when they left home. I wanted to run down the street and follow them to LA or the Bay Area like Forrest Gump.

The questions you have for the characters are the same ones you have for your children: Where are you going? With whom will you end up? How will you support yourself?

What I will miss most, in addition to sitting in a warm, comfortable living room with somebody who was as deeply committed to the show as I was, will be Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, the most believable married couple you will ever see on TV. I want them to be together forever, and I refuse to believe they are not married in real life.

It was impossible not to root for them. Their struggles looked familiar. Could they hold their relationship together in the face of the challenges that life flings like so many mud pies?

Any couple considering marriage should be whisked into a room with easy chairs, a nice flat screen and two weeks of popcorn and settle down to watch Britton and Chandler stand up, sacrifice and be present for each other when there are 1,000 reasons not to.

I don't care if it's a fictional TV relationship. I believe in them like I believe in Sunday dinner. Tami and Eric make a good marriage seem possible if not heroic.

Relationships aside, "Friday Night Lights" will make you love high school football all over again. The players are kids. Football is their opportunity to be part of a team and a greater family.

I want to be on a team. I want to win a state championship. Have people who care. Can any of us lose if we have "clear eyes and full hearts"?

I know I'm getting carried away here but with "FNL" it was easy to do.

It's hard to end a show gracefully, but this one did. The final scene had Tami and Eric on the field with their arms around each other and the stadium lights clicking off. There is no turning out the lights on this love story.

These are the opinions of Herb Benham and not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at hbenham@bakersfield.com

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