In his review of NBC’s new critically-acclaimed (and poorly watched) Friday Nights Lights, a show about a small football team in the made-up city of Dillon, TX, Edward Wyatt of the New York Times has this to say: “All the football players are scrubbed and buffed, looking as if they hail from the O.C. rather than the oil patch, while the cheerleaders — even the town “bad girl” — have haircuts rarely seen west of the Hudson River, much less west of Dallas.” I agree; I spent the first 18 years of my life in small Texan towns, but the Friday Night Lights‘s imaginary city of Dillon, TX is unlike any Texas town I’ve ever seen.
1. No one is over 200 pounds…..yet this is supposed to be the South, home to artery-clogging dishes like biscuits and gravy, fried catfish, chicken-fried steak, and the mindboggingly counterintuitive chicken fried chicken. You can’t tell that from looking at the cast, but you can imagine the craft services table packed with Crystal Lite and whatever bulghur suppository passes for food in LA.
2. The redneck fullback=saucy Scott Stapp! It’s the best high school team in the country, and yet overly muscled “football neck” affliction seems to have passed over character Tim Riggins, played by actor and onetime Abercrombie & Fitch model Taylor Kitsch. Cheerleader-with-a-heart-of-gold Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly) suffers from Hamptons blowout hair but at least she still makes you want to kick her in the face. Aw, just like back in high school.
3. Swear to God, they eat at the Peach Pit. Is that the high school cafeteria or the local after-school hang?
4. Baggy jeans? No western shirts? If not for the accents, I would have forgotten that this show was even taking place in this state. The producers try to get around it by claiming the show’s set in the present day—and not, like the book, in 1988. But as much as this pains them, dead set on prettifying the reality—people in Texas listen to country and dress like Tim McGraw. And this has always been a pet peeve—ever since watching my cross-eyed lovely James Van Der Beek play a football player in Varsity Blues in flowing blue jeans—men often wear their jeans tight in small towns in Texas. The further up north you travel, add one more inch of breathing room for the boys.