Friday Night Lights recently turned 15, but the beloved drama about high school football in small-town Texas is as timeless as Paul Rudd's face. The series, which was based on the movie of the same name that was inspired by the non-fiction book by H. G. Bissinger, starred Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor, an inspirational leader on and off the field who became an empathetic father figure to many of the young men he coached. Connie Britton portrayed his supportive wife Tami, a brilliant and understanding guidance counselor-turned-principal who proved that behind every great man is an even greater woman with impeccable hair.
Running for five critically acclaimed seasons, the captivating drama dug into many facets of contemporary American culture with a focus on Middle America and the complexities of small-town life. With a stellar cast that also included Taylor Kitsch, Scott Porter, Zach Gilford, Gaius Charles, Adrianne Paliciki, Jesse Plemons, Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, and plenty more, the show was about much more than football but also revealed how the sport could be a path toward greater success and a better life for some.
If you're looking for something like Friday Night Lights to watch, the list of shows below will all scratch that itch. 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 like Friday Night Lights, these are the shows you should watch next.
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. [Watch on Netflix]
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. [Watch on Peacock]
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. [Watch on Netflix]
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. [Watch on Hulu, Peacock]
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. [Watch on Starz]
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 ridiculousy 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. [Watch on Hulu]
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). [Watch on Apple TV+]