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[dl] Small Screen


Friday Night Lights has been an underdog since it premiered in 2006 to inspired reviews but underwhelmed ratings. Last month, the show returned to NBC for a third season (after premiering the 13 episodes on DirecTV), and stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, who play a Texas high school football coach and his wife, are lobbing a Hail Mary pass in a desperate attempt to send the show into overtime. Their biggest hurdle? Convincing potential viewers once and for all that it’s not just about the pigskin. We chatted with TV’s most endearing (and realistic) couple about the show, the characters, and their fans.

Let’s cut to the chase. Critics love the show and fans are obsessed with it, yet you’re still fighting to be seen. What gives?
Connie Britton: We feel that way too! Everywhere I go, people talk about how much they love the show, and they watch it, and all their friends watch it, so it’s confusing that we’re not getting the ratings.
Kyle Chandler: With the DirecTV advertising and our shot on NBC, we should be able to draw in a few new viewers. There are so many different types of mediums today that it’s really difficult to raise your flag higher than the other fellow’s. Hopefully, the quality will win in the long run, and we’ve got it in spades.

What do you tell people who still think the show is about only football?
Britton: To me, it’s about humanity. It’s all these lives in a community, intertwined together, and everybody is just doing the best they can. It’s something that everyone can relate to. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. It doesn’t matter if you’re from a big city. It doesn’t matter if you like football or don’t like football, or if you’re in high school or you’re a parent, or whatever.

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People say that the Taylors have the most realistic marriage they’ve ever seen on TV.
Chandler: Every once in a while, you get a couple of actors who come together and just gel. Connie and I are like that. We got along immediately, and we see eye to eye, and we can agree to disagree when we’re working on material.

Not unlike a real marriage …
Britton: Yeah. We’ll sometimes push and pull through something, and we both feel better for it at the end of the day.

Is it that realism -- that appeal to everyone’s humanity -- that makes fans so fanatical?
Britton: I have people approach me all the time who say, “I would never go up to [a celebrity], but I have to talk to you because the show means so much to me.” It is so special that people actually feel like they’re a part of that life.

You really depict the Southern atmosphere and attitude very accurately.
Chandler: The people here are very down to earth, and they thank us for representing them in such a way that they’re not made fun of or stereotyped, which is the greatest compliment you can get. And it really is all about football down here. As [executive producer] Pete Berg said, “High school football and high school athletics are perfect atmospheres to draw drama from.” You can present so many different sides of so many different people’s lives.