28 Friday Night Lights
NBC 2006-08 THE 101 NETWORK/ NBC 2008-11
Witness a study in beliefs in conflict with one another. Friday Night Lights is a show about high school football that was adored by people with no stomach for real sports; a teen drama revered by people who hate teen drama; an adaptation made by the movie’s writer-director (Peter Berg) because he thought the film would have been better in long form; and a series that struck such a chord across demographics that in 2012, both the Obama and Romney campaigns used its “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” catchphrase. That deep love is a testament to the unbridled emotion created by Berg’s cinema-verité technique, and to the ways it unleashed spectacular performances from all its actors — including future stars like Michael B. Jordan and Jesse Plemons — but especially from Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, as Eric and Tami Taylor (a.k.a. Coach and Mrs. Coach), the devoted spouses at the heart of so much turmoil. TV writers often argue that happy couples ruin shows. Clearly, those writers haven’t seen the Taylors in action.