First, the background: Last year, I started watching the TV drama Friday Night Lights. I liked it. This weekend, I listened to a RadioLab podcast in which Ira Glass (the oh-so-dreamy host of This American Life) discussed the magic of radio. He explained that Friday Night Lights, a TV show, appealed to him on the same deep level as radio reporting.
So, why do we (Ira and I) like Friday Night Lights? It's something about the feeling of the show. It's at once grand and personal, folks and big-city. It's like when you're processing a digital photo, and you turn the contrast way up, until it's a little grainy and only the purest colors show through. The thing about Friday Night Lights is that all the people are likeable, like Aaron Mandel. As I watch, I really want them to succeed at their various challenges, and they seem to be the kind of people I would hang out with. Same deal with How I Met Your Mother - they could be my friends, (and they would be if I lived in that neighborhood), so I feel a connection with them.
At its core, though, Friday Night Lights seems old-school classy. It feels like the fifties, when small towns and football were still "in." It feels like what high school should be, what it is in the movies, without all the stupidity that we see there now. And it feels intimate, and personal, like the stories you hear on the radio. No need to add any dramatic narrative, because the story speaks for itself.