For a lifelong east-coast guy, a big draw of Friday Night Lights is the anthropology – West Texas city modeled on Odessa, Texas, oil is almost gone, everyone wants out, football is God, lots of emotional hardship and pathos.
The Buzz Bissinger book was a dark, anti-sports book – and the TV show, while not as dark, still subverts the sports genre. Every episode starts on Saturday morning and progresses through eight acts: seven days of the week and the game on Friday night.
But Episode One is different. It doesn’t show the game. The first seven acts show the preparation through the week. The final act is 30 seconds: a kickoff, the ball suspended in the floodlights, and then the credits. We don’t know who won.
The writers are telling us that the game doesn’t matter. It’s the process leading up to the game. It’s the systems-vs-goals discussion from the Scott Adams book How to Fail at Everything quoted on Eugene Wei’s Remains of the Day. Put one foot in front of the other. Do the work. Follow the steps. Leave the outcome to God.