Let's get a few things out of the way here. I don't know too much about football. I know a lot about eating nachos and sipping beer while football is on in the background, but because I usually I have my nose in a book while reaching for those nachos, I must confess that I am not the person who'll be able to elucidate the more arcane matters of, um, whatever arcane football issue that I don't know anything about. But, I do know lots about beautiful things, and this show -- for however long or short its run may be -- looks to be a beautiful thing.
We open at dawn, the camera -- which we may as well agree to discuss as if it were a character on this show, because it has about as much to say about the story as anyone -- rolls through a town full of electricity towers, telephone wires, the visual white noise of modern day sprawl. A spare and processed guitar strums in regular rhythm, the word "Monday" floats on the screen, and a radio announcer's voice fades in, wishing its audience good morning and reminding them all that Monday morning just means "four days until Friday night." The camera keeps moving; the eponymous "lights" glow in the grey dawn light, a man climbs the enormous light pole, we cut to the football field, an empty stadium looms around Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) -- who we find out, as a female caller exposits to the radio host, is "new," under a lot of pressure to win, and being followed around by news crews everywhere he goes. Taylor gazes downfield at a news van as the female caller asks, "Who does he think he is? Mack Brown? He's no Mack Brown!" An anonymous man stands high up on the bleachers, arms folded, looking down on Coach Taylor.
The camera continues driving through town, casts a passing glance at a shabby ranch with a sign out front declaring it the home of "Riggins / Running Back / #33." We cut inside to find Tim Riggins shirtless and sprawled on a shoddy black leather love seat in the now-golden morning light, coffee table laden with beer bottles in front of him. The radio host continues conversing with the woman (and with us), saying that Taylor has stepped onto the number one team in Texas, and suggesting to her that the news crew is there to remind Taylor how important his job is.
The camera keeps blowing through the worn-out town, shooting a quick backwards glance at a junky shotgun house with a cock-eyed sign (Saracen / #7 / Quarterback) out front. The sign is just one more collectible amidst the broken wrought-iron chairs and empty flower pots, poverty's estimation of the American dream. Inside the house, an older woman sits watching the Home Shopping Network. Saracen peers at her without her knowing; his expression is hard to read, he's totally impassive. He finishes rinsing out his glass of orange juice and tells her, "O.K., grandma, I made you two tuna fish sandwiches and put your medicine in the green gatorade." She sits in her velour pull-over robe -- the one with the ruching at the bust, the one your grandmother wore, too, unless you've been so unlucky as to not have had a grandmother who wore a velour pull-over robe with ruching at the bust -- and taps her foot (a foot wearing a sock inside a slip-on Isotoner or Payless slide) on the linoleum floor.