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Tami Taylor, Mother to All: Abortion on Friday Night Lights

Tami Taylor, Mother to All: Abortion on Friday Night Lights

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Published by Renee Powers
[written for COMS 650-2: Women in Television at Northern Illinois University]
Friday Night Lights began in 2006 on NBC and ran for five seasons. It is based a book of the same name by H.G. Bissinger. For the first three seasons, it aired on NBC but ratings were not high. The fourth and fifth seasons aired on DirecTV channel 101 but due to audience’s insistence, NBC aired the final seasons later. In fact, Season 5 is set to begin on NBC on April 15, 2011 though it is already released on DVD. Friday Night Lights features an ensemble cast revolving around Coach Eric Taylor’s family and their football family. Coach Taylor begins the series as head high school football coach at Dillon High School and ends the series as head coach at East Dillon High School. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Tami Taylor. Tami begins the series as a guidance counselor at Dillon High, moves into the position of principal, but is eventually forced out and moves on to be a guidance counselor at East Dillon.
In addition to the interesting distribution of this show, I discuss the narrative of the episodes in which Tami provides a student with abortion information, resulting in Tami losing her job at Dillon High School. Furthermore, I cover Texas football culture, the abortion debate at the time of the show’s airing, and the cultural reaction to this storyline from both sides of the abortion debate. Many national feminist organizations lauded the show’s writers and characters for their handling of this issue whereas religious groups were outraged.
[written for COMS 650-2: Women in Television at Northern Illinois University]
Friday Night Lights began in 2006 on NBC and ran for five seasons. It is based a book of the same name by H.G. Bissinger. For the first three seasons, it aired on NBC but ratings were not high. The fourth and fifth seasons aired on DirecTV channel 101 but due to audience’s insistence, NBC aired the final seasons later. In fact, Season 5 is set to begin on NBC on April 15, 2011 though it is already released on DVD. Friday Night Lights features an ensemble cast revolving around Coach Eric Taylor’s family and their football family. Coach Taylor begins the series as head high school football coach at Dillon High School and ends the series as head coach at East Dillon High School. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Tami Taylor. Tami begins the series as a guidance counselor at Dillon High, moves into the position of principal, but is eventually forced out and moves on to be a guidance counselor at East Dillon.
In addition to the interesting distribution of this show, I discuss the narrative of the episodes in which Tami provides a student with abortion information, resulting in Tami losing her job at Dillon High School. Furthermore, I cover Texas football culture, the abortion debate at the time of the show’s airing, and the cultural reaction to this storyline from both sides of the abortion debate. Many national feminist organizations lauded the show’s writers and characters for their handling of this issue whereas religious groups were outraged.

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Published by: Renee Powers on Apr 03, 2012
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1Tami Taylor, Mother to All:Abortion on
Friday Night Lights
 Renee PowersCOMS 650-2 Dr. VazquezMay 2, 2011
 
2The secret of 
Friday Night Lights
: It’s actually a chick show.
The secret Texas: The women are in charge. Tami is both asmall-town society wife (much as she strains against thoseobligations) and a no-nonsense Ann Richards stateswoman ashigh school principal. Sometimes she is a paragon of 
supportiveness and understanding; other times she’s easily
frustrated by her teenage daughter and football-focused
husband…
Friday Night Lights
is about a lot of things otherthan football, but the one subject that recurs throughout isparenthood. Tami is the mother to us all. (Cohen 102)
Introduction and Review of Literature
Television, by definition, is a domestic medium. It is in the home, or privatesphere, where women have historically been positioned. Furthermore, it is afeminine medium in that it operates as flow, or the nature of television that allowsone program to blend into the next seamlessly through credits and commercials
.
It also allows for innumerable points of identification in characters, throughadvertisements, and within narratives. Television additionally addresses cultural
and political issues, such as the women’s movement.
Hence, women have alwayshad a certain association with television.
Throughout the women’s movement, television often reflected that which
was happening in the real world. Television narratives provide an outlet forideological perspectives. Television writers and producers created content that taught women which side of the movement they could or should join. Additionally,advertisers saw the untapped market of women watching television and soonwomen were inundated with images that spoke to how they should look. The mediatamed the politically voracious feminists of the 1960s through sexualizedadvertisements, their bodies on display for male pleasure. Yet programming
 
3attempted to fight back. In the 1970s,
The Mary Tyler Moore Show 
defined the newwoman
a young career woman and feminist icon without a partner who wasdetermined to make it on her own. As the medium matured through the 1980s,television reflected the backlash of feminism in shows like
Murphy Brown
, who wasportrayed as the feminist buffoon. In the 1990s, television portrayed the post feminist confusion of 
 Ally McBeal,
who grew up being told she could have anythingshe wanted so she strove to have it all
like a man. The millennium saw the HBOproduction of 
Sex and the City 
featuring four women who equated success withmaterial consumption.Meanwhile, in 2006, NBC aired the critically acclaimed drama
Friday Night Lights
, which highlighted a number of issues that resonated with women on eitherside of the feminist spectrum. Based loosely on a book of the same name by H.G.Bissinger,
Friday Night Lights
portrays women realistically and told their storiescourageously in its five season run, particularly that of Tami Taylor played byConnie Britton. Near the end of the fourth season, a student named Becky Sprolesfrom East Dillon High School visits Tami for counsel on her unintended pregnancythat was a result of a one-night stand with football player Luke Cafferty. Tami is the
principal and former guidance counselor at East Dillon’s rival school, Dillon High
School, who is no stranger to providing advice to teens. Tami provides Becky withinformation on inexpensive prenat 
al care and adoption. When Becky asks, “But what if I don’t want to keep the baby?” Tami tells her she can provide information
on abortion, as well. The final episodes of season four depict the harassment of Tami and her family by the anti-abortion constituency in Texas, which results in the

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