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'Friday Night Lights': How a Low-Rated Drama Launched the Next A-List

As the NBC series begins its final season, a look at how the show's cast has graduated to some of Hollywood's most coveted projects

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The fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights, NBC's critically acclaimed drama, premieres tonight on NBC. It was clear from the beginning that the series, centered around a high school football team in a small Texas town, would develop into something special. In his Washington Post review of the first season, Tom Shales called FNL "extraordinary in just about every conceivable way—but especially in the quality of its cast."

The series never did attain the mass popularity that its supporters hoped for. (After three seasons of low ratings, it was saved from cancellation by a production-sharing deal between NBC and DirecTV. The final season already aired on its Channel 101 and is available on DVD.) But led by the first-rate performances by the cast, the series routinely earns the labels "criminally underrated" and even "the best drama on television" nonetheless.

And while awards organizations have been slow to recognize the master class work from the cast—after four years of brilliance, leads Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton received their first Emmy nominations only this year—its young, talented actors are clearly on the industry's radar. From Wonder Woman to The Good Wife, here's a look at the high profile projects the stars of Friday Night Lights have graduated on to since filming on the series wrapped in July:


See what else is On Our Radar this week.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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