Friday Night Tykes concludes its regular season tonight. Did the show fumble or is it a touchdown?
Esquire Network’s docu-series Friday Night Tykes finishes its first season Tuesday night. When it first debuted the program covered the coaches, the players, and the parents in the Texas Youth Football Association. The focus shifted primarily to the coaches as the series continued, with some shouting here and there provided by the parents. A kid would be highlighted each episode, usually struggling with homework or some other minor issue.
The seeming anonymity of the children maintained the sense of dread I feared when approaching this show. I give credit to Friday Night Tykes for not trying to become an armchair psychologist. It did not try to figure out what unfulfilled dreams the coaches had that would cause them to inflict their personalities on 8-and-9-year-olds. But the tactics used in the games did cross some lines. Coaches were suspended following an episode where intentional injuries were encouraged. Nameless kids scolded for not sucking up some grueling hits in more recent episodes demonstrated an escalation of what the coaches’ expectations were. I hesitate to describe the action on the field as “playing” since that implies enjoyment for everyone.
Though the characters are a challenge to root for, Friday Night Tykes does a phenomenal job of storytelling. Episode 8 featured an excellently filmed and gripping matchup in the first round of the playoffs. I don’t even like football that much, but I found myself completely tuned in to what was happening on-screen. One thing that doesn’t get discussed on-screen but does get captured visually: these kids have skills.
There has not yet been an announcement about whether Friday Night Tykes will get a second season. If it does get renewed, I would like to see a different geographic area highlighted. Texas made sense for a debut season since the relationship between the state and the sport goes to the extreme. Seeing how the sport differs in a cold weather environment with new coaches would be a more interesting choice than seeing the cast we know now one year later. However, the controversy surrounding the show may prove to be too much for the production to overcome.
Tonight we get to see the championship game. Next week will feature a “where are they now” special and the fallout from the series. Both episodes will be preceded by a marathon of the season-to-date—I recommend catching up with the series.