The failure of Friday Night Lights

I'm reading the book for the first time, having seen the movie and the first two seasons. I probably won't watch the third season, as the second quickly morphed into a  southern, working class version of Melrose Place. I'm fascinated by the Southern and the working class, but I can't hack the Melrose Place. But reading the book--late, I know--I never realized that the original town was, presumably, one of the most racist places in the country. Racism runs through the heart of the book--racism towards blacks, racism towards Hispanics. But the writer still maintains an affection for the players, and to some extent, for the town. It's amazing how the story went from a narrative of a West Texas town, viewed through the lens of football, to a kind of quasi-hagiography.

In the film, the main sin seems to be that the town is football obsessed. But in the book, the football obsession comes across as a symptom of an almost spiritual vacuum. In the TV show, you're basically getting a soap, as I said. They deal with racism--in episodes, but it isn't a part of the spirit of the town. It's a vehicle to create conflict for Smash. I'll have more to say when I'm done, but I wish the TV and film folks had grappled harder with race. I think it actually adds more to the story.