Tuesday, April 8, 2008

DirecTV saves "Friday Night Lights" for another season

Scott Porter plays Jason Street.

The New York Times reported April 7 that in a unique arrangement with DirecTV, NBC will allow its critically acclaimed drama "Friday Night Lights" to have a third season. The show is one of the few currently on network TV that has a main character with a disability.

The character, star quarterback Jason Street (played by Scott Porter), became disabled in the pilot episode as the result of a bad tackle during a football game. But the show, which focuses on a high school football team in Texas, kept the Jason Street character as part of an ongoing storyline about his recovery and new life as a wheelchair user.

And when we last left the Jason Street character (around the time of the writer's strike), he just found out he might become a teen father. After the shock (he was told his injury would make it difficult for him to father a child), he embraced the idea of fatherhood with excitement and told his pregnant girlfriend that he would take sole responsibility if she didn't want to keep the child. I hope this storyline pans out because it could be wonderful to have the show portray a disabled man raising a child.

Scott Porter says he took the role knowing he would be playing a wheelchair user and that's what drew him to role, the journey the character would be on after he became disabled. The creator "Friday Night Lights," Peter Berg told Porter he wanted a disabled character to remain in the show because more than 10 kids a year in Texas alone are paralyzed playing sports, and he wanted their experiences to be acknowledged.

"We want to make sure it is real, that they can say this show is doing what they go through justice and it opens people's eyes to what these kids are going through," Porter said in a TV Guide interview in 2006. "We're focused on making it as genuine and honest as it can be. It will be painful at times to watch, but at other times it will be rewarding. I think you'll be really rooting for him. All of a sudden Jason has become an underdog."

To prepare for the role, Porter met with several disabled young men at a rehabilitation facility near Austin, Texas, where the show is shot. He said the men were "were appreciative of how we were going about telling the story and how we were really dealing with it."