Friday Night Lights- Finally Someone Gets It, Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

The first time we saw Tyra afterwards was in the next episode when Landry went to check on her after she wasn’t in school for two days. She hasn’t told anyone what happened, her mother is away caring for a sick aunt (although her mother probably wouldn’t be of much help anyway) and she doesn’t plan to and orders him not to either. I’ll admit that I don’t know if there’s a clear answer here- it’s her decision whether or not to report it, but… she’s just a kid. A 17 (maybe 18) year old isn’t really set up to cope with something like this all alone. I doubt most people are, but it’s probably even less likely for a teenager. Landry’s position is a difficult one, do you respect her confidence or tell someone and try to find her someone who might be able to help? He eventually asks his best friend what he should do, and again the show sidesteps an insulting trend of shows that handle the topic- making a woman being attacked a catalyst for action on the part of the male characters around her. Tyra isn’t even in the scene, it’s just Matt and Landry talking about what to do with information like this but it’s clear that it isn’t about him, it’s about what will help her.

He eventually ends up going to Tami Taylor, the school guidance counselor (and incidentally the best person I can think of). Again, I’m not sure if it’s the right decision, but it’s an understandable one. He spends some time skirting the details, even leading to Tami asking if “his friend” is really himself- interesting acknowledgment that this is not a gender specific crime- and asking if she’s required to report it to the police before giving up Tyra’s name. Tami went to check on Tyra, and accompanied her to the police station. The show managed to convey the awfulness of that situation fairly clearly- Tyra snapping at the police officer after she’s obviously been asked the same questions a million times, the lousy situation she’s in being responsible for the burden of proof, the dehumanizing process of cataloging her injuries- without insulting her or the viewers. The audience doesn’t need to hear her explain every detail of what happened, we were there. I’m sure the constant repetition is realistic given how frequently real victims must have to go through it, but on television it often strikes me as pandering to that subset of the viewers who actually tune in to hear it.

Basically, Tyra’s reactions seemed believable to me given what we know of her character. They aren’t trying to hold her up as some ideal of strength that every victim must live up to, but she doesn’t strike me as someone who would cope by hiding from the world forever. She’s been allowed to be angry, yelling at Landry for telling Tami what had happened but when she apologized a day or two later, explaining that she was upset and she was taking it out on him, it didn’t completely invalidate the fact that he did talk about something she had asked him to keep quiet, even though she understands why he did. I have to admit that I was nervous when I heard about this development before I saw it, since so many shows have done it so badly, but Tyra is being allowed to proceed mostly in her own way and the subject was handled with a sensitivity that usually seems to be missing on television. Hopefully the show will get a second season so they get the chance to continue the process.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    I can’t really say much except to reiterate what I said before – perhaps to add that the surrounding characters are coming across well too.

    Particularly the refusal to make it about Landry.

  2. says

    I was really relieved that it didn’t turn into a plot device to get Tyra and Landry together in an improbably, wacky relationship! ‘Cause opposites attract! No, instead he has an awkward crush on her, and she has no interest in him, but appreciates him as a friend and, after she’s come to terms with reporting the crime as having been the right thing to do, she appreciates that he cares about her and was trying to help her. (What is it she tells Tim? A friend is someone who helps you, even when you don’t want to be helped? Something like that.)

    I think they handled it very well–they made it about his concern and his ultimately goal to do what was right, and he clearly was truly conflicted about respecting her vs reporting the crime. (I was also sitting there yelling, “Tell Tami! Tami can fix anything!” Because she is awesome.)

    I think the show really did a good job of demonstrating how our culture treats rape victims. It seemed to me that she was not only clearly repeating herself, but the policeman was openly doubtful of her claim; the phrasing of his question made it sound like, “Well, you say he was carrying a notebook, but you aren’t sure if you forgot a notebook, so explain THAT, or else you’re a liar!” without actually saying it in so many words. It was very clear that she feared that kind of reaction and that was at least part of why she didn’t report the incident, and also very clear that that is NOT how victims of rape (or attempted rape) should be treated.

    I really, really, really love this show.

    (Psst, to everyone: it’s available free on nbc.com and cheap-ish on the iTunes store!)

  3. MaggieCat says

    No, instead he has an awkward crush on her, and she has no interest in him, but appreciates him as a friend and, after she’s come to terms with reporting the crime as having been the right thing to do, she appreciates that he cares about her and was trying to help her. (What is it she tells Tim? A friend is someone who helps you, even when you don’t want to be helped? Something like that.)

    “A friend is someone who’s there for you, who helps you do what’s best for yourself, who asks you to go out and do things.”
    The amount of love I have for that line mitigates the ever so slightly cheesy one that came after it (although credit to Adrianne Palicki for selling both the good and the shmoopy).

    It sums up a lot of the best points of this entire storyline- Landry’s been mooning over her all season, and there was every possibility that she’d hate him if he told, but he thought it was more important that she get some support. (Someone may claim that I was yelling at the television that obviously Tami was the one to call because Tami is made of win. I can neither confirm nor deny such reports.) The “asks you to go out and do things” part is a nice touch since the line was said to Riggins, and their relationship was frequently lacking in actual connections.

    If this show doesn’t get renewed I will cry. Really- NBC is about 4 hours of primetime programming away from being the all To Catch A Predator network, they owe us.

  4. Matt says

    I love your coverage of Friday night lights and it’s female characters. I know this is extremely late, but in case people view this page they should know that on the DVD set there is an extra deleted scene that even the director admits is the best scene of the entire episode. Apparently they had to edit it for time. Tami is at Tyra’s home and Tyra has a complete breakdown because she starts to blame herself for the attack. Tammy, in her amazing way, respects Tyra but also makes it clear that it was certainly not her fault. It’s an acting tour de force!

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