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Without giving anything away to those of you who can’t watch “Friday Night Lights” Season 4 until it airs on NBC in late spring, let me just note that the trajectory has wound up in an extremely appropriate spot as of this week. It’s very in tune with the national mood. I don’t know when these episodes were written and shot, but it’s kind of eerie.
There have been spots over the course of the season where I’ve felt the series had lost its way and was just fooling around with characters it knew the audience was fond of. But it’s become clear that actually they did have an arc for the season that made a lot of sense. That trajectory actually becomes apparent within the first episode: it’s a season about what it’s like to lose, where the basic reason you’re losing is because you’re poor. This is not feel-good TV. It was a hard-assed and correct decision to take the series in that direction. There have been a number of series in recent years that, I think for the first time in American television history, have been unafraid to take on class divisions without cloaking them as mere cultural or stylistic differences, hiding their raw asymmetries of money and power, or keeping them at a safe distance by setting them in the past. FNL is one of them.
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