By Aly Semigran
July 15, 2011 at 06:13 PM EDT
Justin Stephens/NBC
  • TV Show

It’s a day we’ve been dreading for months… years, really. It marks the end of an era and a time to say goodbye to friends who, while fictitious, helped us to grow and love and appreciate life through a way so much different than our own. And no, PopWatchers, I’m actually not talking about Harry Potter this time.

After five staggeringly wonderful seasons, the heartbreaking, authentic, and criminally underrated (it took you far too long, Emmy voters, but we’ll still take it) drama Friday Night Lights will fade to black. While the end has come for many of us already — either by watching it on DirecTV back in February, or on DVD — it still doesn’t make coming to terms with the end of the series any easier.

Looking back, I admit I was a reluctant to get on board with the series at first, despite countless pleas from friends who clearly knew better than me that I would love it. Something about a high school football drama that in no way involved James Van Der Beek shouting “I don’t want your life!” sounded like it wasn’t worth my time. Plus, I’d seen enough inspirational football dramas on the big screen to go around, thanks to the likes of Rudy and, well, the movie version of Friday Night Lights. Trust me when I tell you it didn’t take long to discover that initial blow-off was dead wrong.

In no time, I found myself breathlessly hoping the Dillon Panthers would win their games to get to State. I was growing increasingly attached to certain characters (namely Matt Saracen, especially whenever he addressed his Grammaw). And I was wondering if I’d ever find a relationship as complex and real and sweet and complicated and wonderful as Eric and Tami Taylor’s. It felt about as to close to perfection as a television show could get.

Of course, it did have its share of missteps along the way: the disappearing Santiago, Epic’s epic failure of a name/story line, that time when Tyra and Landry murdered that guy in season 2 and got away with it and… you know what, let’s all pretend that one never happened. Moving on.

Because despite the minor hiccups here and there, the show’s brilliant writing (they masterfully handled tough subjects like abuse, abortion, and racial tensions) and its superb and effortless acting (there was rarely a weak link, but as far as the series MVPs go, it has to be Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, and Zach Gilford) always kept me riveted.

Not too many shows would have been able to to pull off feats like getting rid of original characters like Jason Street and Lyla Garrity and uprooting the team you had come to love and cheer on, the Dillon Panthers, and making them the underdogs, the East Dillon Lions. But, Friday Night Lights did, because viewers — like the good people of Dillon, Texas — put their faith in the Taylors. Wherever they were going, we were going to follow. Sure, I never took to newer cast members like Becky or Vince quite the same way I did to Tyra or the Riggins brothers, but that’s true of life, isn’t it? Nothing stayed the same in Dillon, Texas just nothing stays the same with us. People come and people go and sadly, so do really great television shows.

While I’ve already watched the finale of Friday Night Lights, it still doesn’t make me any less sad to see it end. This was a rare gem of a series that could both lift your spirits and give you the ugliest ugly cries you’ve ever experienced. Check out a beautiful tribute to FNL below featuring the song “Devil Town” (you’ll remember it from season 1 and 5) as well as an entertaining compilation of all the times Tami said “Y’all.” (It was a lot, bless her.)

I’m curious PopWatchers, what — and who — will you miss most from Friday Night Lights? Have you already said goodbye or will you be watching the finale for the first time tonight? Share in the comments section below and then don’t forget to check out Ken Tucker’s full recap of the finale on

One more for old time’s sake, shall we? “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

Read more:

‘Friday Night Lights’ review

  • TV Show
  • 10/05/07
  • In Season
Complete Coverage
Available For Streaming On