I realized something while I watched them: these movies are basically the same movie*. They are both set in Texas. Everyone is Odessa and West Canaan is obsessed with the high school football team and the players are treated like celebrities. In both movie football players shoot at things while discussing their lives & problems. There’s racism against the black players on both teams. A star player on each team blows out a knee and ends his football career before it’s really begun, but still comes to the final game in a show of solidarity and support. Each team has to struggle to recover from the loss of an important member to try to make it to the championships (state in FNL and division in VB).
Of course there ARE differences. FNL is based on a book about real events that happened to real people so the characters are more realistic, believable and sympathetic. The characters in VB are not. Coach Gaines (FNL) is a pretty good guy, Coach Kilmer (VB) is the Devil. Varsity Blues is rated R and is rife with boobs, butts and cursing (or as Taylor bizarrely and grandmotherly called them, “effs and jeffs”), Friday Night Lights is rated PG-13 and I don’t remember much swearing at all (although I’m pretty sure there were some racial slurs). In FNL, in spite of their best efforts the Panthers lose the state championship, in VB the Coyotes win the division championship** without the evil Coach Kilmer. One of these movies is good. One of these movies is stupid (yet entertaining). And only one of these movies has this classic line:
* I may have had this epiphany while drunk on wine.
** In the voiceover at the end of the movie it’s stated that they never played football together again, but like… if they won the division then they would go on to the state championships, and would therefore play together AT LEAST one more time. IDK MAN, I CAN’T DEAL WITH THESE PLOT HOLES.