10 Things You Didn’t Know About “Friday Night Lights”

It’s hard for me to process the fact that, tonight at 9 p.m., one of my favorite television shows will be coming to an end. “Friday Night Lights” has been brilliant since minute one and, five seasons later, it has remained a joy to watch. The norm for a high school show is for it to move at a rapid clip, with oodles of plotlines being thrown out and resolved each episode. But, in part because of the show’s focus on the Taylor family, “Friday Night Lights” has always unfolded slowly, taking time to build both its plots and characters. A single plot could linger for an entire season. See: Julie’s affair with her married TA and the return of Vince’s convict dad.

After tonight’s finale, “FNL” will be going off the air, only to be seen only in syndication on ESPN. And it’s shocking to me how little fanfare this fact has gotten. I mean, I know it’s awkward since many people have seen already finale (it aired earlier this year on DirecTV and also, the season five DVD is already out) but still, people, this is it! I’m glad other bloggers are having as hard a time with this as I am. Over at The Awl, Sarah Blackwood says a teary goodbye to the show and at Survey Monkey, fans are rating everything from the show’s hottest characters to its best bromance. But my favorite piece I’ve seen so far is at Grantland, where Robert Mays has compiled an oral history of “FNL.” After the jump, 10 facts I learned from it.

  1. “FNL” isn’t the first TV show based on Buzz Bissinger’s book, Friday Night Lights. Since NBC wasn’t able to option the book (Peter Berg and Brian Grazer had snatched up the rights for a movie), they decided to do a series “inspired” by it. The show aired for a single season in 1993 and it was called “Against the Grain.” The quarterback one on the show? Ben Affleck.
  2. The producers were originally worried Kyle Chandler was too pretty for the role of Coach Taylor. It wasn’t until he showed up to a lunch meeting on a motorcycle, clearly “hungover as shit,” that they liked him for the part.
  3. When Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton decided to drive from LA to Austin together to begin filming, producer Peter Berg was worried. “Connie and Kyle developed a very flirtatious, precocious relationship right off the bat. And Kyle, of course, is married,” he explained. “I was convinced they would be having some torrid affair by the time they reached Santa Fe and Kyle’s marriage would be over by the time they got to Austin. I was wrong about that, thank God.”
  4. Before becoming Lyla Garrity, Minka Kelly was a scrub nurse at a plastic surgery clinic. Zac Gilford, aka Matt Saracen, was folding shirts at a sporting goods store.
  5. Taylor Kitsch caught casting directors eyes because, even though he sent his audition tape from Canada, he went to the trouble of finding Lone Star beer cans to hold in it.
  6. Speaking of Taylor, the Riggins house made him sick, literally, for the first few episodes. “It reeked. There was mold. The pool was filled with sludge,” he explains. “One of us got sick and we had a doctor come to set. He was like, ‘You guys shouldn’t be shooting in this house.'”
  7. Matt Lauria, who plays Luke Cafferty, says the show has an unusual shooting style—the actors don’t pander to the cameras. “Half of the time, you didn’t even know where the camera was. It was hidden somewhere between a trash can and a bush, and then another cameraman is sitting in the backseat of a pickup,” he said.
  8. Remember that murder plot in season two? Everyone involved with the show hated that, too.
  9. When the show rebooted in season four with Coach Taylor’s move to East Dillon, the show took a gamble by bringing in almost entirely new cast of teens. How did they choose them? The producers had people audition opposite Taylor Kitsch. If they could hold their own with Riggins, they got the part.
  10. After shooting the final shot of the series, the cast and crew cracked open beers and headed to a honky tonk in Austin called Midnight Rodeo. Circa 2 a.m. people had the idea to go to the football field, where they played a game of flag football.

Read much, much more here.

Are you sad for the end of “Friday Night Lights”?

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