Tonight, my favorite TV show of all time comes to an end: Friday Night Lights. I’ve seen every single episode at least twice, more like five or six times for the first two seasons. I confess I didn’t start watching until season 2, because I made the mistake of assuming it was a show about football. How silly of me; as it says on the Panthers’ locker room wall, football is training for the rest of your life. FNL is about the rest of life. The fact that the people on the show are hot tomatoes only makes it more watchable; back when I lived in Chicago I happened to encounter Kyle Chandler, who plays football coach Eric Taylor on the show, in a grocery store while he was filming another show on location. Let me tell you, that’s a fine looking gentleman.
It’s been said many times over that the relationship between coach Eric and guidance counselor Tami Taylor is one of the truest portrayals of marriage ever on television, and I agree. Their deep and abiding commitment to each other is the pole, and everything and everyone else revolves around them, magnetically. So herewith are the top five things I’ve learned about marriage, motherhood, and the rest of life from Tami Taylor:
1) Not every disagreement has be resolved through a fight. More than once, Eric has planned or scheduled something without consulting Tami: attending an event, hosting a barbecue for 100+ people at the house. How many times has Buddy Garrity interrupted dinner to have a critical conversation, or taken Eric out to the bar for too many drinks to talk Panther (or Lions) football? Tami makes it very clear that she ain’t happy, but that’s as far as the conflict needs to go to make her point. Occasionally she takes herself a time-out under the dining room table. A good strategy for those of any age who have reached their limit. A nice big glass of white wine also helps. And then it’s time to move on.
2) Women over 40 can have long hair. Tami Taylor knows what looks good on her – streaky waves, v-necks, sleek dresses, high heels, and cowboy boots, and she sticks to it. If anything, that gal has only gotten better looking in five years. So should we all.
3) Kill your enemies with kindness. Whether it’s re-allocating the Jumbotron money for schoolbooks, or openly disagreeing with other educators about how to bring out the best in students, Tami has a strategy: start with a big smile, follow up with a “how y’all doing?”, pretend you are all reasonable people here, and then bam! “I knew you’d agree, thanks so much, hon!” And sweep out before anyone knows what happened. Works every time.
4) Don’t leave your daughters (or sisters) alone with Tim Riggins. And don’t assume he can’t sneak into a second-floor bedroom, either. It’s a miracle that rascal hasn’t knocked up half of Dillon.
5) Nothing creates more stability for a family than deep and abiding love for your spouse. I have a friend who once told me that during her childhood, her parents were far more interested in themselves as a couple than in their children, which left her feeling insignificant. I’m still not sure I get that, but in the case of Tami and Eric Taylor, their open affection and clear commitment to each other is the rock that holds down the world. Their older daughter, Julie, has the freedom to grow up but always has home and family to return to when she needs it (more than she’d like to admit). The other kids (and occasionally adults) that they mentor and support always know whose door to knock on, and most of the time it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Eric or Tami who answers.
Landry (Lance) Clark once advised uncertain QB1 Matt Saracen that “sometimes you have to ask yourself: WWRD? What Would Riggins Do?” An apt question for a teenage boy. For me, though, Tami Taylor will always have the answers. Texas forever.