The first season of Friday Night Lights had everything. And the second season of Friday Night Lights had… well, something else. While the Dillon Panthers struggled to live up to the victorious heights of their State Championship, the TV show around them pushed its characters in a series of different directions far beyond the football field. Jason Street rode south to Mexico with Tim Riggins. Tim moved from home to home, taking up residence with a drug dealer and (all-too-briefly) the Taylors. Lyla Garrity went to Church. Coach Taylor took a job in Austin.
With distance came stress, on the central characters and on the shows’ defining relationships. Tensions between Tami and Julie Taylor reached a boiling point, and then a slapping point. New love interests bloomed: This was the season of The Swede and The Nurse. And also, well, Landry killed a man.
On the latest episode of EW’s Binge podcast, some of FNL‘s finest grapple with the legacy of season 2. Writers Bridget Carpenter (creator and showrunner of 11.22.63) and Kerry Ehrin (co-creator and showrunner of Bates Motel) recall the roots of the murder plotline – and offer their own perspective on the audience’s reaction to it.
“I feel like something happens in the beginning of a second season of any show, which is you kind of play out the pilot in the first year and then the second year you feel the need to kind of reinvent a little bit to get new seeds growing,” Ehrin explains. “I think it came more out of that, of wanting to turn up the jets a little bit. I think I’m still probably one of the only people that really still… I like that storyline.”
“I do too,” Carpenter agrees. “I don’t feel defensive about it at all. I remember exactly why we did it. I was shocked at the animus towards it. I was sort of like, ‘Hey people, it’s TV, things happen.’ I will say too that I really enjoyed all the great gifts it gave us, which was Landry and Tyra getting really close.
Ehrin adds: “I think a lot of the reaction to [the murder plotline] had something to do with people feeling like NBC had asked for it. There was a sense of like a political thing… like, they were like, ‘oh make it more network-y.’ It could not have been farther from the truth.”
The murder storyline may have been one of the biggest indicators to viewers that Friday Night Lights wasn’t going to be the average small town USA type of show.
“I think people thought it’s not like small town America and Friday Night Lights is about these real slice of life things,” Ehrin says. “Honestly, that was never my personal perception of Friday Night Lights, I thought it was a story about a town where everyone was crazy. It was like everyone had drank the Kool-Aid and that’s sort of what kept it spinning, and then the slice of life stuff was within that world. It isn’t this small town USA storytelling about families – it was never that. It was about people who were crazy!”
To hear more from the writers, including the one storyline the Writers’ Strike prevented them from finishing, plus stars Adrianne Palicki, Aimee Teegarden, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, and more weighing in on the season, listen to the episode above. And subscribe to the podcast to find out the answers to burning FNL questions from hosts Darren Franich and Sam Highfill, like “Whatever happened to Santiago?”
Subscribe to the podcast now, and be sure to tweet any questions/comment to @samhighfill and @darrenfranich or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. EW’s Binge is produced by EW’s Cristina Everett and edited by Will Malnati of At Will Radio.