Adrianne Palicki starred as Tyra Collette on Friday Night Lights.

I initially thought that Friday Night Lights was a show just about high school football in small town America, and while the sport is central to the series, the show is about so much more. In the very first episode, the star quarterback Jason Street gets injured during a game and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of the show. The other characters have to deal with racism, poverty, absent parents and larger themes of funding within education and the lack of economic opportunities in small towns are also discussed. It’s available to watch on the All 4 player in the UK and Ireland and on Netflix in the USA.

The first episode of the third season sees a lot of change for the lead characters: Tami is now principal of the high school, Matt has to deal with the possibility of losing his place in the team and Smash is dealing with losing his scholarship due to a knee injury. But I think that the biggest change happens to Tyra. Tyra has a difficult home life, her mother drinks and her sister is a stripper, her goal is to get as far away from Dillon, Texas as possible. Through the support of Tami Taylor, she is set to apply to colleges around Texas, however the school guidance counselor tells her that she shouldn’t waste her time applying for colleges because she’ll never get in.

This scene was upsetting to watch; we saw in season 2 how hard Tyra had worked to improve her grades and to watch her be dismissed was tough. She leaves school early and angrily tells Tami that she shouldn’t have given her hope that she could have a better life than the one she has. Later that night, she watches her sister get proposed to by Billy Riggins and she gets a glimpse into what her future could be: working in the local strip club and marrying a local with no ambition. She doesn’t want this life for herself and so asks Tami to help her get into college.

This episode is important for Tyra because we see how far she’s come. Instead of quitting, she decides to work harder. Instead of settling, she has ambition. Her character arc so far is proof of how important determination and hard work are to achieving your goals. It also shows how important educators are, her guidance counselor had the opportunity to encourage her and help her with her college application. Instead,

he dismissed her immediately. Without Tami who knows what Tyra would have done? (I know this show began airing 15 years ago but I’ve just started season 3 and I really don’t know!)

-Michelle O’Brien
Contributing Writer
Girl Museum Inc.

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