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The Best Drama of 2011: Friday Night Lights

December 23rd, 2011 by Ben Collins Editor

This concludes our week-long countdown of the Top 10 Comedies of 2011. Selections 10-2 can be viewed here. The best TV Drama Series of 2011 is…

1 – Friday Night Lights

Look, we almost cried.

There was a filmic gauze over this show that made everything seem warmer and bigger. It made your life seem like it could be just as important—if you only moved to Texas and walked around with a heavy cinematic filter over your eyes.

What was it, after all, that set you apart from them? Your kid’s school is probably dealing with budget cuts, but Dillon football’s existence seemed more important. You’re probably in a relationship of some sort, or are fresh out of one, or are about to be in one. But Tami and Coach Taylor’s relationship seemed to have more weight about how couples move about the world than your own.

So the final season of “Friday Night Lights” was our nearly unanimous choice for the Best Drama of 2011.

Maybe there are more artful shows out there. We’ll take a beating for tossing “Boardwalk Empire” and Other Shows of Extended Silence toward the back of this list and giving this show its one last awards life. We’d understand that.

But we were groveling and trying not to cry at work at the end of this thing, and we’re talking about a high school football coach. It was accomplished with all of the gravitas of those shows with much more network support, much better timeslots, and much more historically divisive and important plotlines.

I say that, by the way—historically important—but I don’t know if I mean it. Nothing really seemed more historically important, at the time, than finding out if Philadelphia would welcome Eric Taylor at season’s end.

This show made every little, domestic, minute, small-town, unimportant thing you did in your own life seem bigger. It drilled down to your emotional middle with cinematic scope.

Life became slightly larger and weightier after watching it. We’re not happy that things will get smaller again now that it’s gone. But we can toss it a last bit of thanks for being one of the best shows TV has ever had.

Last comment: Dec 30th 2011 16 Comments
  • DramaMartini says:

    What a wonderful show! From the perfect cast, the camera work to the choice of music. I was hooked from episode one and watched straight through to the end. And what a beautiful finale it was. Do people expect programs to go on and on until the characters die off? It’s a story for goodness sake. Sensitive, dramatic and oh so real from the pain of loss and frustration to the magic of youth and romance. Thank you to all those involved in creating this masterpiece.

  • joshua says:

    This is the one show that was really great of course, NBC gets rid of it. THank you HULU for being there. HULU saved me from bordness when i was deployed. for a half year. : )

  • Mariana says:

    Cool movie I loved it it’s super awesome

  • WinxGal98 says:

    I Actually only saw a few episodes of this show and could never get into it. Honestly It just didn’t look like a good show and never kept my interest in my humble opinion there are better shows then this one hands down. Some people seem to like this show okay, awesome.

  • FNL Fan says:

    one of the best sport dramas i’ve had the privilege of watching. acting was so spot on and story line was awesome. so much credit to the writers and all the crew behind the scenes- the show was made great because of you all too! sad to see this show go, wish people knew what real entertainment was still. this show deserves more recognition and money than these ridiculous reality tv shows with untalented, undeserving of fame individuals! i’ll miss you, FNL!

  • Dan says:

    Best show of 2011 & NBC drops it. Where are their heads at ?

  • Fack necelson says:

    I love Hulu it spectacular

  • Michelle says:

    Thank You. This show never gets the attention it deserved. One of the best series ever. Loved it from start to finish. I almost cried when it ended too. I love that they ended up in Philly, you’re closer to me now Coach Taylor! These characters were so real and raw, it is just fantastic. There will never be a show like it.

  • beverly says:

    This, to me, was the best show that has ever been on television. I wanted to pack my bags and find this place after watching the finale. They are talking about a movie -I hope they make 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 sequels too.

  • Joshua m Corbett says:

    I did NOT want to like this show, but all my friends were watching it, and loving it. And not just the ones that like football, the ones that don’t care a flip about football loved this show as well. So I gave a chance and I am mighty glad that I did. This so is easily one of the best shows that was ever on TV, and possibly the greatest series finale ever. Period. Yes, at times it got a little dramatic. Yes, some story lines were a little out there. But that never stopped me from going to the next episode right away. Pretty much anybody who likes TV needs to watch this show. Do it now, thank me later.


  • DramaMartini says:

    I was searching for a new show to watch and landed on “Friday Night Lights”. Man, am I glad I did! I started with the pilot and watched all the way to the end. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.. The story line, the way it was directed, the music, but most of all, the characters were so real, so thought out by the actors. They were people I actually know. This show is masterpiece in every way. There are lessons to learn, truths told and it evokes feeling in the viewer. Unveiling masks we all wear. There is true dedication for the actors and all those involved in making this show. Thank you for taking me on the journey!

  • Moyra says:

    It’s a shame that they took this wholesome show off the air as it was at it’s peak in popularity, only to keep the garbage we are now forced to watch, or just not watch TV at all. Nothing today is suitable for the moral families today. It’s a shame.

  • bluesky says:

    You got it right. Certainly the best drama of the year, and easily takes its place with the top American TV dramas ever. I agree with Jack that Mad Men is also a pretty spectacular show, and i guess both of these series approach character and location-as-molder-of-character each in its own groundbreaking way. But Mad Men keeps you at a distance from its characters; it’s like watching a theater piece about a slightly different species. On the other hand, the fact that I’m a big-city-raised Yankee who is somewhat indifferent to football was no barrier to connecting with the characters in Friday Night Lights. There’s a humanism that involves you directly in the moral choices and life choices that each character makes. Impressive, too, is that show managed, over its full run, to draw a line between those choices and their consequences over time–all with a compassion and understanding that we humans have our frailties and our strengths. A gorgeous show. I’m glad to read that others had such a strong reaction to the show ending. I was feeling a little foolish for my attachment to a TV program.

  • Tphaomop says:

    Agreed, however I haven’t exactly finished the series I just got into it this year but there were high hopes for it getting only better as time goes one. This article makes me anxious to watch to the end. The show made me more interest an football than ever before. Great writers, real acting, and the fact that they did not try to draw this show out more than was needed makes for happy viewers like me.

  • jack says:

    Definitely the right choice. For me, the only drama that can compete with FNL is Mad Men, which may me more artful. (It would have been really hard for me to pick a winner between those two shows had Mad Men aired this year.) However, nothing can compete with this show’s heart as it captures West Texas at its best and worst, through the eyes of characters we really care about.

    Finally, one thing that really made me happy was Leslie Knope’s chanting of “Clear eyes, full hearts, cant lose!” to rally the people in her NGO meeting. My favorite comedy referencing one of my favorite dramas just put a huge smile on my face!