Dealing through racial and also ethnic tensions and stereotypes is tricky organization for any medium, and practically verboten for network television, so come a details extent, tonight’s episode of Friday Night Lights deserves part credit for the attempt. This season, the display has lastly acknowledged the a tiny town in Texas favor Dillon would have actually a significant Hispanic population, and the writers have actually tried, but haphazardly, to introduce a pair the semi-major characters in Santiago and Carlotta. And there’s part bravery, too, in acquisition on the thorny worry of interracial relationships, which leader to part tension in between the older and younger generation of both races, v the elders uncertain that the society has gotten beyond the stigma.

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But there’s ambition and there’s execution, and “Who do You Think friend Are?” fell considerably short of the mark. Yes sir a well line between exploding stereotypes and also indulging in them for a (well-meaning) point, and the present tread ~ above the wrong next of that line all night. Let’s carry out Santiago first: Happy together I was to watch Francis Capra (can I contact you ‘Frank’?)—better known as Weevil top top Veronica Mars—get some work-related again, his role as a thug worried to drag Santiago ago to the dark side to be 100% cliché. There’s no effort to do Capra’s character particularly charismatic or chummy; he’s just a jerk hellbent on dragging his old girlfriend down through him. That house party (or apartment party, anyway) was something we’ve checked out a thousand times in teenager dramas; of course things get out of hand and also of course there’s a class to it is in learned about resisting peer pressure and also taking responsibility for her (adoptive) home.

But really, Santiago’s homies were just a an equipment to settle the trust worries percolating in between he and also Buddy. Is Buddy maintaining the kid approximately just because that his potential together a soccer player? and also does girlfriend really to trust Santiago enough to leaving his lover mementos about while his thuggish friends room around? Bottom line: room they yes, really father/son material or have actually either of castle (or both) gotten in into this arrangement in negative faith? currently that’s a perfectly great question, yet there space surely many much better ways come dramatize it 보다 this. (That said, ns was touched by the conclusion to this small subplot anyway, which makes me a sucker, ns guess.)

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The Smash/Noelle quagmire isn’t handled much more gracefully. For one, we’ve had actually no indication prior to tonight the their connection was anything more than a star running ago getting played by a flirty opportunist. But even if we expropriate that points have evolved far sufficient for a huge family dinner, the whole dispute felt means too pat come me. Having both Noelle’s parents and Mama Smash thing to your pairing top top the same grounds is an interesting start, however the entirety sequence in ~ the movies to be overwrought. A couple of stares room understandable, however having Smash’s sister harassed by a bunch the racists—and the O.C.-like fisticuffs that follow—isn’t very subtle. Yes sir no doubt the interracial relationships, specifically in the small-town South, have their re-superstructure of obstacles, yet would they yes, really be this overt? In the end, we learn nothing about Smash and also Noelle, and also just have actually musty assumptions around Southern bigotry reinforced.

True to the schizophrenic nature the the display this season, the minor however beautifully observed Coach/Mrs. Coach subplot held the contrivances the the Smash/Santiago storylines in spicy relief. Where the Smash/Santiago stuff dove headlong into large racial and ethnic stereotypes, something as minor together a daycare situation was loaded through wonderful particularities the speak to more to the everyday. Having Tami experience anxiety around dropping baby Grace at daycare is something most working parents have to deal with, however I can't recall ever seeing the dramatized before. So many priceless moment abound: Tami shuffling Gracie through the school halls in her stroller; the fight in ~ the dinner table; Eric again taking advice native his assistant coach (echoes that the sex-after-pregnancy talk) and coming away annoyed (when his assistant suggests that a woman’s task is to continue to be at residence with the kids, Eric responds, “You know, that really sounds stupid and also ignorant when you say it out loud”); and a really touching resolution wherein Eric insists that she save her counseling job. Having actually the episode end with the parental dropping the son off in ~ daycare and also leaving her there to be a nice touch; it’s not a “big” moment like the racial kerfuffle in ~ the movie theater, yet it’s far more true to life and resonant.

Thank God because that the normal Coach/Mrs. Coach oasis, because they were mostly surrounded by desert. I understand the new-fangled Friday Night Lights is light on the pigskin, but I think I’m starting to side through my colleague and pal Noel Murray in wishing the football and its natural tensions would play a rather larger role than it has recently. The doesn’t mean I want last-minute comebacks main after week, yet without football in ~ its center, the show naturally loser its ballast. I’ll save some that the specifics because that the bullet points below, but I yes, really had small use for Matt and also Carlotta, or the Riggins/Lyla/dude from Gilmore Girls love triangle, either. C’mon guys, let’s keep our heads in the game.

Grade: C+

Stray observations:

• When Carlotta announced the she to be heading residence to Guatemala, the line (“I need to go, my household needs me”) do the Simpsons fan in me laugh me loud. She FNL’s answer to Poochie, who you’ll remember make his abrupt and hoped-for exit with the line, “I need to go now, mine planet requirements me”) Man, what a sloppy little of planning: go the writers really create Carlotta to have actually her go out like that, through no real affect on the display other than serving as a grand, useless distraction? What to be the point?

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• Matt and also Landry room on speaking terms again! Hooray!

• ns was originally excited about Lyla’s foray right into Christian radio, due to the fact that I choose the means the present has dealt with religion as vital part the the towel of life in Dillon. But having Matt Czuchry, who several of you can recognize as smug, well-off bad-boy Logan on Gilmore Girls, come between Riggins and Lyla no do lot for me. Possibly it’s since I could never buy Czuchry—still a slickster despite the tamped-down hair—as a hardcore Christian.

• Carlotta take away Matt come a Quinceañera. Why? due to the fact that that’s what miracle Latina nurses do! They additionally know how to dance.