An average of 15 hours #2


RIP Coach Taylor.

RIP Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose.

RIP Friday Night Lights.

I started watching the first of five series of Friday Night Lights about 6 years ago and I’ve been eking them out ever since.  If someone had done a focus group of one with me (which I realise is in fact a depth interview) I’d’ve said what I wanted from the best ever drama series would be America, some trucks and blokes drinking bottles of beer the way that only they drink bottles of beer, high school kids, not so much of the singing, almost no dancing, team sports and ergo changing rooms.  I might not have got quite as far as requesting a Coach Taylor or a Tami Taylor or a Gracie-Belle Taylor but if you’d paid me a little extra incentive I might have done…

I started watching FNL when I still owned a DVD player and I finished it streaming from Amazon Prime on my telephone. There’s progress for you.  I started it weeping and to be honest, I finished it weeping too.

It tugged at my heartstrings and coincidentally, so does BBC Three’s American High School: Straight Outta Orangeburg.  Very different shows with some similar issues.  Neither one, probably, very real. 

I’ve loved Friday Night Lights.  Soap without suds.  Dudes and no duds.

I’ll miss you Buddy Garrity, Jason,  Landry, Tyra, Lyla, Matt Saracen,  Julie, Smash Williams, Mindy,  and all the dozens of others.  I’ll miss you Tim Riggins.  

Goodbye Dillon, Texas.  Forever.


An average of 15 hours #1

Everyday I walk into work and ask the same question…”did anyone see Married at First Sight/SAS: Who Dares Wins/American High School/The Fall/Planet Earth…” etc. and most days, unless I’m very lucky, I’m met by blank stares.  I work in an office of people who simply don’t have the same all-consuming relationship with ‘content’ as I do.   Or maybe they have busier lives.  I fit TV in with a rigid timetable of podcasts, the books, the news, social media and bloody hell, the interruption of doing actual work.  Exhausting.  But also vital, transporting, surprising, hilarious and quite simply something I can’t do without.  For an average of 15 hours a week (yes, I counted).

We work in a WeWork co-working space and I’m one explosive documentary away from suggesting a daily ‘meet up’ of fellow telly addicts.  I fondly see myself bonding over tapas and Transparent or a panini and Planet Earth. 

I watch telly to watch it.  I set myself invisible rules around not looking at my phone (mostly obeyed), not doing the washing up (more often obeyed). I am allowed chocolate and if I’m really lucky, cigarettes.

I set off to work and consider how to get there with one eye on what I want to watch or hear.  If it’s walking, it’s a podcast (I can get in a whole New Yorker Radio Hour or This American Life) on the way.  It’s a bus – such a treat – downloaded TV.  There are days I pray for traffic or pause on the way to finish something off.

So I reckon it’s time I started a TV discussion.  Mostly with myself but prompted by an analysis of SAS: Who Dares Wins with some colleagues – perhaps also, finally with them.



SAS: Who Dares Wins

I’ve got a lot of women in my life.  My mother is one, my sister is one and she just gave birth to another one.  Many of my friends are women, my colleagues are and even my wife is one.  There is something viscerally exciting, affirming and reassuring about seeing men being men.  And that’s why I love SAS: Who Dares Wins. 

And before you suggest that I’m taking this too far intellectually, you’d be right, but I am also fascinated by and admit to a quickening of the heart when I see them, the course leaders.  It’s bloke porn.  The editors know that creating visual snapshots (silhouettes of them waiting to ‘interrogate’ in the tin hut, the close-ups of them talking about ‘them’, the brief opportunities to actually see them be tough) is all grist to my mill and I thank them.

But more than that, I love that it’s a programme that celebrates masculinity.  It’s the cave men, the protectors, the warriors, the tough-guys.  The He-Men.  Every episode exposes a temporary lapse in tough guy and we see a few shells peeled off by discussions of grief, crime, anger, turmoil) – we’re never left to believe that they’re just fists and fight for too long.

I get that it could be reductive and maybe even sexist (last year’s the BBC’s Ultimate Hell Week was actually won by a woman) but in SAS world they’re entirely absent (until the final stage where the only woman sort of plays the ‘nice guy’)’.  I get that it’s a celebration of warfare and bro-hood and a winkling out of the weak.  But I’m okay with that.  Just as my lifelong passion (obsession?) with cowboys will attest, I appreciate men.  I appreciate their strength, their stubble, their stubbornness, their grit.  Reader, I did not want to marry one.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to indulge in their muddy, sweaty, sweary, beefy, brawly selves – for an hour a week at least.