TAF Real World – Week #37 of 51

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose!

This is the pre-game chant Coach Taylor uses to fire up his football team on the TV show Friday Night Lights. I am a huge fan of this show, which began airing its final season on NBC last Friday (watch the season opener here on Hulu!). I’ve already had the luxury of watching the final season on DirectTV, so I’m turning my tafBlog post into my FNL farewell homage.

To those who don’t know, FNL is not about football, but rather, it’s about the universal themes of everyday life, told through the lens of the local high school team. The players and coaches are the center of the small West Texas town’s interest, and the fans live and die with each pass and tackle made by their boys. And through this game of football every Friday night, they create an incredibly strong sense of community. But not everything is perfect for the players of course. Aside from carrying the hopes of a whole town, there are relationships, family issues, recruiters and boosters, and racial and class differences that everyone has to deal with (which from an audience perspective, makes it an incredibly rich viewing experience). But through it all, Coach Taylor guides these young men.

His lessons aren’t out of the ordinary, work hard, give everything 110%, care about your teammates, etc. But one moment in the FNL pilot shows us another side to Coach Taylor. He says,

We are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point in our lives fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts that what we have is special. That it can be taken from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls…it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves.

Whether we’re star football players or the audience watching at home, we are not invincible. And when trials come, and they will, we can and need to count on those around us, our teammates, our friends, our family, to lift us up, and to use the adversity to look deep within and challenge ourselves to come out the other side a better person. This lesson resonates throughout the show. Characters will grow and change, but they’ll always grow or change for something better, and they will do it with the support of loved ones. It’s a simple lesson, but because it is so well told, the message is perhaps clearer. And maybe this is what the show means with its signature chant. Clear eyes (knowing yourself) and full hearts (surrounded by loved ones) simply cannot lose in life.

Storytelling like this and the lessons it can impart are what drew me into my current career in film production. Through my work, I hope to have a helping hand in creating meaningful media, and thus, how I hope to Love Out Loud. I’ve had the good fortune to work on Formosa Betrayed and the Write in Taiwanese Census PSA among other things so far in my career. Perhaps I’ll start developing a show about the lives of teens at a summer camp in Indiana and the incredible bonds they form once they leave…

But regardless, Slideshow this year is gonna be epiicccccccc!

– Jon Lee

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