Using the above photo to introduce you to the characters, I thought I’d introduce you to the town of Dillon and its Panthers. I’ll introduce the characters from left to right.
1. Brian “Smash” Williams – Smash starts as a great football player. He was fast on the field, flirted with the ladies off the field. We’ve seen him with two girlfriends. As I’m trying to do this as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t go into further detail. He lives with his mother and two sisters. Even though he acts fairly self-centered, his family is very important to him. He’s the good son and the protective brother. See Season 1 to see what happens when Smash gets into a little trouble with Coach and his mother. In Season 2, he is injured and that’s what brings us to the beginning of Season 3. With the injury, Smash figures his hopes of college and pro football are over. His storyline is, by far, my favorite this season.
2. Tami Taylor – I mentioned the Taylors in a a previous post. Tami is a great supportive and outspoken wife in Season 1. She does tend to get her way almost every time and can be overbearing, but at the end of the day, she and Eric are a team. She starts work as a guidance counselor at the same school in which her husband is the football coach. At the end of Season 1, she shares the news that she’s pregnant. In Season 2, Gracie Belle makes her arrival. We also see Tami have post-partum depression which is well-played. During this time, she’s stays in Dillon while Eric is at TMU. My Tami highlights from the past seasons are when she’s dealing with being separated from her husband and in any scene with her daughter, Julie.
3. Landry Clarke – Landry is the school geek and Matt’s best friend. He’s always the one to tutor the main characters. He has a band called Crucifictorius which, during a Season 1 concert, is painfully bad. He’s in the worst storyline ever in Season 2. We won’t discuss that. However, during Season 2, he did join the football team as a bench warmer. During Season 1 and Season 2, he started hanging out with Tyra and dated her. By the beginning of Season 3, they are broken up but friends. He still has his band.
4. Coach Eric Taylor - Coach is the head coach of the Dillon Panthers. You can find out more about him in this previous post. He was a quarterback coach and taught Jason Street when he was younger. He then goes onto mentor the new quarterback, Matt Saracen. There are many other instances where he tries to add guidance or support to the players. On the homefront, he mostly just tries to stay out of trouble and keep his head above the ever-changing waters of his female-filled home. In Season 2, he takes a new job at the college level at TMU only to decide to go back to Dillon.
5. Tyra Collette - Tyra is the town bad girl. She was on-again/off-again with Tim Riggins in Season 1 until she ends up in an unlikely relationship with Landry. She lives with her single mother, Angela and has a sister, Mindy who works at the local gentlemen’s club, The Landing Strip. Angela briefly worked for Buddy Garrity which ended poorly and results in her approaching the Garrity family outside of church. She’s not the best example and only shows moments when she’s not the worst mother ever. Mindy is engaged to Billy Riggins and cracks me up whenever she’s on screen. In the past two seasons, Tyra tries turning her life around and goes from skipping school to joining the volleyball team temporarily. Tami takes a big interest in her life when Tyra starts hanging out with Julie. This self-improvement and self-confidence continues into this season though it takes a couple of detours. Tyra breaks up with Landry in Season 2 but finds she's jealous when it looks like Landry finds someone else. They begin Season 3 as friends.
6. Julie Taylor - Julie was mentioned in this previous post. She starts off Season 1 as the new girl in school. She then starts dating Matt Saracen, befriends Tyra, and starts to fit in. In Season 2, she dates a lifeguard nicknamed the Swede. She's also kind of bratty in Season 2. Luckily, that doesn't last too long. I keep waiting for bratty Julie this year, but she hasn't appeared.
7. Matt Saracen - Matt Saracen was the back-up quarterback to the star, Jason Street. Then, he finds himself the starter overnight. He leads the team to win the State championship at the end of Season 1. His father is in Iraq and his mother was never in the picture. In Season 2, he's a little cranky - most likely due to the fact that Julie found someone else. Meanwhile, he cares for his grandmother who is suffering from dementia that gets worse throughout the series. It's heartbreaking to see Matt accept his responsibility especially as he nears college age when some go away to school. As mostly shown in Season 1, Matt is also a very talented artist. You do see Matt's father in Season 1 as well. He's back to status quo going into Season 3. He's friends with Julie and starting quarterback.
8. Lyla Garrity - Lyla is the school goody-goody. She is a cheerleader in Season 1 dating the star quarterback, Jason Street. They have a plan to graduate and go to college near each other and get married and live happily-ever-after. She then cheats on Jason with Tim Riggins, Jason's best friend. Her father, Buddy Garrity is a big-wig booster in the town. He was a former high school football player who owns a local car dealership. He has a wife and three children - Lyla and a younger son and daughter. Then, he cheats on his wife with Tyra's mother and is then publicly humiliated. He's a little outrageous and loves to be important. In Season 2, Lyla's parents get divorced and Lyla's mother dates. Before Season 3 begins, everyone but Lyla moves to the West coast. Lyla stays with her father in Dillon. Lyla becomes religious in Season 2 and starts to date Chris, a guy who works with her at Christian radio. No real explanation as to where Chris went, but Lyla turns her eye back to Tim.
9. Jason Street - Jason begins the series as the star. Then, in the first episode, he's tackled and paralyzed which changes everything. In the rehabilitation center, he befriends Herc who is completely crazy and never treats Jason with kid gloves. He sticks by Jason through it all. Jason's parents, at one point, sue the school and the coach over the accident to help make ends meet. In Season 2, Jason, Lyla and Riggins end up in Mexico to find some cure for the paralysis. It was a weak storyline. I won't lie to you. Maybe not as weak as the Tyra/Landry storyline I refuse to mention, but it was unnecessary. Jason ends up having a one-night stand with a waitress in Season 2 that results in a baby boy.
10. Tim Riggins - Tim is Jason's best friend and kind of a bad boy. He cuts class. He drinks a bit. I don't think there is much mention of a mother, but his father left him and his brother years back. Tim lives with his brother, Billy, who has one grand scheme after the other for getting rich quick. He also played football in high school but never really went too far because he had to care for Tim. Billy means well. Going into Season 3, he is dating Mindy and really wants to provide for her and for Tim, but he's not really the brightest bulb. They steal every scene they are in. You do see Tim's father in Season 1. Soemwhere along the way, Tim decides to straighten out and date Lyla seriously.
That pretty much sums up the cast of characters. There were other players who made cameos and you are introduced to more in Season 3. I tried to keep spoilers to a minimum. If you decide to watch Season 3 without going back to Season 1, it's really a good time to tune in. The first episode catches you up a bit. You may miss some backstory, but I kept enough quiet so you can watch the past seasons to catch up later and still enjoy the show. Storylines involving mental illness, race relations, steroids, murder (which I won't discuss), and recruiting among many others. So, I promise after this week that I will lay off the Friday Night Lights posts, but the show is seriously good.
P.S. If I've forgotten something, I'm sure someone will tell me.