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'Friday Night Lights' recap: It's a race thing

Season 1 | Episode 15 | “Blinders” | Aired Feb 7, 2007

There is plenty of drama and intensity in “Blinders,” but it is also one of the funnier episodes of Friday Night Lights. When Tami discovers that Julie and Tyra have been cutting P.E. class, she comes up with the greatest punishment imaginable: They have to play in the Powderpuff football game.

The Powderpuff game is an all-girl football game coached by two Panther players. Neither Julie nor Tyra is happy about the arrangement and, as luck would have it, the two Panther coaches are Matt and Tim, their respective exes. Zach Gilford has a chance to showcase his comedic chops as Matt stumbles through picking his team (making the mistake of picking Julie third), and then trying to coach with a quarterback who isn’t up to the task.

Eventually, he begs Julie to play QB to save their team from humiliation. She isn’t particularly inclined to help him, but ultimately she agrees, telling Matt he’s pathetic. Tim, meanwhile, picks Lyla for his team. Tim knows exactly what he’s doing, and his team seems destined for victory. I desperately want to see more Lyla-Tim interactions to gauge if there’s still a spark, but alas, we don’t get much.

Julie gets home from practice, exhausted and depleted, only to find her father waiting to give her a hard time about missing class. The Powderpuff game is only part of her punishment, he informs her. There will be further consequences at home that he and Tami have yet to determine. Julie is too tired to care and explains to her father through tears that Matt’s been yelling at her all day about quarterback stuff.

The conversation immediately shifts as Coach T realizes that his daughter has been tapped to play QB. He is beaming with pride and immediately gets her outside to practice routes. Julie’s mood changes as well, as FNL does what it does best. Tami looks on as her husband and daughter play in the street, and we get to look on with her, basking in the glow of this beautiful father-daughter relationship.

The distraction is good for Coach, too, who is trying to stay cool after Mac caused major controversy with an interview he gave the local news. After the Panthers won their first playoff game, he speaks with reporters and manages to suggest, among other things, that Smash, a black player, is better suited for running back because he’s like a “junkyard dog.” We have the unique perspective of hearing the entire interview, in which the reporters goad Mac into making these comments. They are ill advised and certainly offensive, but the picture they paint of the man is not exactly consistent with the man who made the statements. He should know better.

It is the way Mac responds to the criticism that is the real problem, though. He refuses to acknowledge that he made an error. He is adamant that people are overreacting and that nothing he said requires an apology. When Coach insists that he give one, he goes on TV and reads a form letter, barely taking a moment to look up from the piece of paper.

The issue goes way deeper than players or community members feeling hurt by Mac. The racial tensions throughout the team and school are building and sides are quickly forming, a fact that is made clear when Tami attempts to facilitate a dialogue. Smash, feeling as though people are overreacting, attempts to talk to Mac. This is when Mac’s most egregious behavior emerges. He berates Smash for having the gall to come to him, saying, “You save your dialogue for your Mommy,” threatening him with being benched if he brings the issue up again. Clearly, the public outrage over his comments has gotten to Mac, but what this response does is create an enemy where once he had an ally.

Meanwhile, Jason shows up at school for the first time since his accident. He has grown so much in the months since losing his ability to walk. He arrives at school with confidence, knowing he is capable of living a normal life. But he is met with discouraging comments by people who mean well but instead convey the fact that no one expects him to do anything other than observe.

Jason Street is not an observer; he’s a doer. So when he finds out from Herc that he has been invited to training camp for the national rugby team, it feels like a way out. School is not for him anymore. He still has the chance to pursue his athletic dreams, something he hadn’t imagined possible when he learned he was a quadriplegic.

Jason shares his exciting news with Lyla, only to discover she’s not exactly thrilled about it. Lyla doesn’t want to come up with new dreams, she likes their old ones. Jason may not be the star quarterback anymore, but she wants him to finish school like they planned, not drop out, go to Austin for three weeks, and then possibly to Beijing if he makes the team.

The Powderpuff game turns out to be a nail-biter, with Matt’s team winning on a last second touchdown. The tension on the field is palpable, particularly because Tyra has a hunch that Buddy Garrity is hitting on her mother and she’s taking it out on Lyla (as if Lyla would want her father to be doing such things). Matt and Julie’s ability to work together and win, not to mention have fun together, seems to be a good sign.

As the Panthers begin practice for their next playoff game, Mac blows his whistle to start a drill. The white players take off, leaving the black players standing still. Mac attempts to get them to move, blowing his whistle three times, and three times they refuse to move. Eventually, they walk off the field in solidarity. This problem is not going away.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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