Friday Night Lights

Season two debuts Friday, October 5, at 9 on NBC.

I know next to nothing about football—little more than a vague awareness of what the quarterback does and the number of points a touchdown earns—and I’ve never cared enough to learn. But somehow, that ignorance and indifference toward America’s pastime (or is that baseball? I couldn’t care less about it either) is no obstacle to enjoying Friday Night Lights.

Based (only thematically, I’m sure) on Buzz Bissinger’s revered nonfiction account of high school football in a small Texas town, the drama depends on the game for some of its climaxes, but at heart it’s about the community, not the sport. Following the lives of a few of the players, the coach, and their friends and families, Friday is not only surprisingly thoughtful—fleshing out stock characters and grappling with provocative issues—but also persuasively heartfelt. Friday made me care about the emotional well-being of high school jocks! Not having been known for my team spirit when I was high school (to put it mildly), I’m still disoriented by that.