NBC and DirecTV's Friday Night Lights is a modern TV classic. It's a football show. It's a family drama. It's a small-town story. And it does all of those things very well. Set in Dillon, Texas, it follows a high school football team that is, like most high school football programs in the Lone Star State, the lifeblood of the community that supports it. Starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach Eric Taylor and Tami Taylor, it helped launch the careers of many of its young stars, including Taylor Kitsch, Scott Porter, Zach Gilford, Gaius Charles, Adrianne Paliciki, Jesse Plemons, Michael B. Jordan, and Matt Lauria.
If you're looking for something like Friday Night Lights to watch, the shows listed below all draw on the series' most noteworthy elements. You'll find reality series following football programs from around the country, shows that dig into the complicated but rewarding dynamics of various sports, and emotionally compelling family dramas that may or may not leave you reaching for the tissues. If you miss Friday Night Lights, these are the shows you should watch next.
There's little doubt that the producers of Texas 6, who also count Titletown High to their credits, wanted to make a real-life version of Friday Night Lights. Even the music of Texas 6 has that Explosions in the Sky feel. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This docuseries about a six-person high school football team in Strawn, Texas (pop. 626), going for a state championship three-peat has everything a Friday Night Lights fan wants minus Tami Taylor: easy-to-root-for kids overcoming challenges to be the best they can be on the field, small-town passion for a community and a sport, and a coach who cares too damn much. But it's the variation on the sport — Strawn plays in the high-scoring, fast-paced, six-man league because there literally aren't enough kids in town to play with a larger team — that gives Texas 6 its unique flavor. -Tim Surette
If you think cheerleading is just Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly) on the sidelines of a football game with a ribbon in her hair, then you probably also think football is just a few guys throwing a dead pig around and hugging each other. Netflix's docuseries Cheer comes from sports doc superstar Greg Whiteley — who also has other shows on this list — and uncovers the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading in Texas. Season 1 follows Navarro Community College on the team's continued quest for dominance, and the blood, sweat, twisted ankles, and bruised egos that go into being No. 1, culminating in the national championships in Daytona Beach. What will be familiar to Friday Night Lights fans is the coach-athlete relationship that changes lives, especially with those kids who come from difficult backgrounds and give the program everything they have. Fair warning: This is real life, and between Seasons 1 and 2, one of the show's stars faced charges of soliciting sex from minors and production of child pornography. The matter is addressed in Season 2. -Tim Surette
Friday Night Lights earned tons of praise for its sense of place and setting in the world of youth sports, and that's replicated — with a completely new flavor — in Apple TV+'s basketball drama Swagger. Looking at the intensely competitive world of AAU basketball in the Pacific Northwest, Swagger centers on Jace Carson (Isaiah Hill), a 14-year-old hoops phenom trying to hold on to his position as the No. 1 prospect in the country. Swagger also expands its focus to the families and coaches working their butts off to provide opportunity for these kids — and themselves. It's grittier than Friday Night Lights, and also features much more sports footage as these kids, particularly Hill, throw down dazzling dunks and flex for the crowd and the 'gram. It is called Swagger, after all. -Tim Surette
Easily one of the best sports docuseries around, Netflix's Last Chance U is a fascinating and powerful look at the sport of football and the young men playing it at the community or junior college level. Each season viewers are immersed in the everyday action as these athletes strive to turn their lives around and reach the next level, finding personal success and achieving their dreams in the process. The acclaimed show ran for five seasons, following teams from East Mississippi Community College (Seasons 1 and 2), Independence Community College of Kansas (Season 3 and 4), and Laney College of California (Season 5). For football fans, it arguably doesn't get any better than this, and if you need more, the winning formula was also applied to basketball in the excellent spin-off Last Chance U: Basketball.
The MMA-themed Kingdom is probably the closest a series has ever come to capturing the feel and raw magic of Friday Night Lights. The show, which was created by Byron Balasco and ran for three seasons on DirecTV/AT&T's Audience Network, is about mixed martial arts the way FNL is about football, which is to say the series revolves around the sport and uses it as an entry point into a powerful and emotionally complex story about purpose, family, glory, and addiction. The series stars Frank Grillo as Alvey Kulina, a former fighter who now runs his own gym in Southern California and trains others fighters, including his sons Jay (Jonathan Tucker) and Nate (Nick Jonas), as well as former champion Ryan Wheeler, who is played by Friday Night Light's own Matt Lauria. It's not always pretty, and it's not always easy to watch—in fact, there's a good chance Kingdom will break your heart at times—but it's so good that it ultimately doesn't matter.
One of the reasons Friday Night Lights was so successful and so beloved during its run was its ability to authentically capture the cultural importance of high school football in the South. In Netflix's Titletown High, a reality series following several teens on the football team in Valdosta, Georgia, that real-life love for the game is on full display. Viewers are privy to all the theatrics as the town and the team — which hasn't won a national title since 1992 — attempt to recapture the glory under a new head coach. And while the show can sometimes focus a bit too much on the teen drama instead of what happens on the gridiron, it's a fascinating look at a town where high school football reigns supreme.
If the emotionally stimulating, multi-layered portrait of an extended family is what drew you to Friday Night Lights, you're going to love Parenthood, which is based on the 1989 movie of the same name and adapted for TV by FNL showrunner Jason Katims. The drama, which is guaranteed to get the tears flowing at least once per episode, follows the Braverman family and stars Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, and Erika Christensen as four adult siblings with families of their own as they all struggle to find their way. Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia anchor the series as the patriarch and matriarch of the Braverman family, which comes together and falls apart as families tend to do. And as an added bonus, because of the overlap in talent behind the scenes, you'll see several familiar faces from Dillon pop up on-screen, including Michael B. Jordan, Minka Kelly, and Matt Lauria.
Heels trades the drama of high school football in Texas for professional wrestling in Georgia, and much like Kingdom before it, the show uses a popular but less familiar sport to prop up and explore fractured familial relationships while also highlighting the dynamics of small-town living just like Friday Night Lights. Created by Michael Waldron (Loki), the series stars Stephen Amell (Arrow) and Alexander Ludwig (Vikings) as Jack and Ace Spade, two brothers — one a heel (read: villain) and one a face (a hero) — in the Duffy Wrestling League, which was started by their late father. The DWL is barely profitable in its current state, but Jack is dedicated to seeing it thrive once more, so when one of the brothers goes off script during the main event, it disrupts and complicates their entire relationship, setting the show on an unpredictable course.
Upon first glance, there isn't a ton of overlap between Friday Night Lights and ABC and CMT's country music-themed soap Nashville. Both are set in the South and both star Connie Britton, and that's where the similarities seem to end. However, you can also make the argument that the locations of both series act as another character in the story (even though everyone hates it when you say stuff like that) and that the men and women who call Nashville home are also searching for the same things the young men who played football for Coach Taylor were searching for too: purpose, stability, a future, and fame. And, like Friday Night Lights, Nashville is very much a product of the city it calls home. While we cannot in good faith say the storytelling on display is of the same quality as what occurs in FNL — Nashville goes off the rails numerous times and does a lot of ridiculously dumb stuff — it's a fun watch a lot of the time. Plus, some of the original music written and performed on the show is truly great.
Before you groan and/or raise your eyebrows, you probably should have known Ted Lasso was going to make an appearance on this list. It's a show about sports! It features an influential and beloved coach! It makes you feel all the emotions! And it's also about more than what it initially appears to be on the surface (that will make more sense once you watch Season 2). Based on a series of promos for NBC Sports' coverage of Premier League soccer, the Apple TV+ comedy stars Emmy winner Jason Sudeikis as the eponymous character, an American college football coach who takes a job as the manager of a struggling Premier League team. While the soccer matches can leave a lot to be desired — they are not on the same production level as FNL's football sequences — the show will make you laugh and fill your heart with pure joy. It might even help you understand the offside rule (but not likely).