compare and contrast

Where Are They Now? Comparing the Friday Night Lights Characters to Their New Roles

Photo: Michael Muller/? NBC Universal, Inc.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS -- Pictured: (l-r) Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins, Gaius Charles as Brian "Smash" Williams, Kyle Chandler as Eric Taylor, Scott Porter as Jason Street, Minka Kelly as Lyla Garrity, Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen -- NBC Photo: Michael Muller
Photo: Michael Muller/? NBC Universal, Inc.

For those who missed it on DirecTV last winter, the beloved Friday Night Lights finally returns to NBC tonight for its fifth — and last — season. As Slammin’ Sammy Meade might tell you, “It’s Fourth Quarter, East Dillon Fans, and it’s about to get real.” The smart fan will have prepared for the inevitable good-bye; the less mature among us may choose a different route. Like, say, hunting down all our favorite characters’ new projects and obsessively comparing them with their FNL glory days. If the latter approach appeals to you, then please join Vulture for a special Friday Night Lights episode of “Where Are They Now?” with special annotations specifying the new characters’ Lion-like qualities. To the lineup!

Where You Can Find Him: Every Shonda Rhimes doctor show needs an asshole, and Gilford’s Tommy Fuller is Off the Map’s! He’s rude, he’s fratty, and before he escaped to a South American medical clinic, he made a living doing boob jobs in a strip mall. Sometimes, he yells at the local children. How He’s Like Saracen: Gilford is clearly trying to run in the opposite direction of Matt, but as Julie Taylor will testify, you just can’t escape No. 7. To wit: Tommy has parental problems (his are estranged; Saracen’s are absent), and he can only get along with outsiders (Tommy bonds with a 10-year-old; Saracen, of course, with Landry). It’s still early for Tommy, but we assume he’ll find his medical talent — and his heart — with the help of gruff Drs. Keeton and Cole. And, of course, Tommy’s in love with the hot, slightly prissy, goody-goody blonde. QB1 in the house jungle!
Where You Can Find Her: Until an ill-advised hookup with an engaged character (Crosby/Dax Shepherd), Kelly could be found on Parenthood as Gabby, a therapist who works with autistic children, including Crosby’s nephew Max. How She’s Like Lyla: To start, Gabby’s wide-eyed goody-goodness will clearly remind you of early Lyla (and weird, second season Born-Again Lyla). The Crosby tryst also has some serious Riggins/Street Love Triangle undertones — though in this case, she’s the Riggins, and Max would technically be the Street (weird, we know), because Gabby has to quit her job to avoid Crosby. Fingers crossed for a Crosby/Gabby/Max reunion trip to Mexico next season.
Where You Can Find Him: Alex (Jordan) is Parenthood’s resident former homeless alcoholic, who now runs the Food Bank where he once ate. That, naturally, is where he met Haddie, his right-side-of-the-tracks girlfriend. How He’s Like Vince: He’s a troubled urban youth who’s mostly turned his life around but still sometimes battles with past demons, all while dating the good girl (to the alarm of her elders) and making lasting bonds through athletic prowess. Alex, meet Vince Howard! You guys both flex your jaw when angry; you’ll get along.
Where You Can Find Him: The Good Wife pits Porter’s Blake Calamar against Kalinda “Sexy Boots of Justice” Sharma in a Battle of the Morally Flexible, Emotionally Unavailable House Investigators at Lockhart Gardner. Blake’s weapons: a stolen baseball bat, some top secret intel on Kalinda, and aggressive sexual energy. How He’s Like Street: Um … Jason Street was in a wheelchair, and Blake puts other people in wheelchairs (if they’re lucky; that guy really gets aggressive with the bat). But the explosive temper is also something Blake and 6 have in common — never forget the great Murderball Beatdown of season one. Riggins had a shiner for days.
Where You Can Find Him: Running down perps as Caleb Evers, earnest junior detective to The Chicago Code’s cranky homicide veteran Jarek Wysocki. How He’s Like Luke: Caleb plays second fiddle to the legendary Wysocki just as Luke Cafferty trails along in Vince’s shadow. He’s also a bit of a square, like sweet Farm Boy Luke. A Bonus Connection: Luke started season four of FNL as a Dillon Panther, only to be transferred to the East Dillon Lions against his will. Meanwhile, in Chicago, where sports are almost as important as in Dillon, Caleb is a Cubs fan, much to the dismay of White Sox Wysocki. Matt Lauria, always rooting for and/or being on the wrong team.
Where You Can Find Her: (Almost) jumping over cars, rocking shiny tights as the new Wonder Woman. How She’s Like Tyra: At the risk of overindulging in Tyra Worship, she already exhibited many of the qualities necessary in a female superhero: courage, tight pants, and a terrifying swagger on the volleyball court/in life. We can’t see inside the new Wonder Woman’s head, but we’re fairly confident she’s imagining Tim Riggins’s face on every villain she encounters (then spiking him or her into oblivion). Let’s try to avoid the whole rapist/revenge murder plotline this time, though.
Where You Can Find Her: Starting today(!), Teegarden can be seen as Jenny Randall, one of the unfortunate souls who decides to answer her phone in Scream 4. How She’s Like Julie: Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Jenny exhibits many of Julie’s most frustrating qualities: bratty nonchalance, a pouty side-eye, and total obliviousness to impending danger. Don’t flirt with your English teacher, Julie! Don’t stand by the window, Jenny!
Where You Can Find Him: It’s not out for two more agonizing months, but J.J. Abrams’s upcoming Super 8 features the return of Coach as Deputy Lamb, father to Joe and Good Cop to all. How He’s Like Coach: We’re basing this solely on the trailer, of course, but Deputy Lamb so far exhibits all the important Coach Taylor attributes: He dishes out the tough man-to-almost-man advice, he refuses to smile, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s the guy you trust to sort it out. Most important: In a world (or movie) dominated by kids, he’s clearly the only adult who really understands. If he uses the “You make me proud” line or wears Croakies at any point during this movie, we’re going to totally lose it. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t be killed by an alien. We believe.
Where You Can Find Them: At this exact moment, they’re probably floating on some fake naval cruiser in Hawaii. But eventually, both Kitsch and Plemons will appear in Peter Berg’s alien-attack adaptation of Battleship, the board game. How They’re Like Riggins and Landry: Okay, so here’s what we know about Battleship so far: Kitsch’s character, a Naval officer, has a higher-ranking brother, and he’s engaged to the boss’s daughter. Riggins also has an older, technically senior-to-him (in that Billy’s his guardian) brother, and he dates Lyla, daughter of Buddy Garrity, who employs most everyone in Dillon at some point. We also assume that his character will smolder silently in uniform for a majority of the movie. As for Plemons, he’ll probably kill an alien, feel guilty about it, then force his dad to help him clean up the mess. Just a wild guess on that one.
Where Are They Now? Comparing the Friday Night Lights Characters to Their New Roles