If Texas Country Artists Were ‘Friday Night Lights’ Characters

Zach Gilford, Taylor Kitsch et al. posing for a photo

If you think Friday Night Lights the movie is better than the show, we’re gonna have to hash that out later.

I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve re-watched the show… it’s borderline unhealthy how much I love it.

Set in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, it has an almost cult-like following, even over 10 years after the last episode aired. Some of the situations on the show are so realistic (others not so much), but either way, the show has an uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re actually back home in high school… whether that’s a good or bad thing is a whole other article.

The grand characters and convoluted storylines make Dillon a setting that is uniquely Texas. If there’s one other thing out of Texas that I love, it’s their country music. I find myself turning to it often because there is no other sound like it today within the genre. 

In the same vein of unexampled Texas flair, I can’t help but draw comparisons between my favorite Texas artists and my favorite Friday Night Lights characters.

Here are my picks for which character several of your favorite Texas country artists would be if they all decided to move to Dillon:

Tami Taylor: I’m not going to lie, this was one of the hardest ones for me to pick. Tami Taylor is a force to be reckoned with, so I needed someone with some serious girl power and a strong resume to boot. Tami and Sunny Sweeney have strong personalities with the duality to come across both with the boldness and sweetness that only a southern girl can truly master.

Coach Taylor: Everyone’s favorite Dad and Football coach, all wrapped up into one easily irritated, tough-nosed, charming character. Both Cody Johnson and Coach Taylor manage to have even-keeled and uber likable personalities without sacrificing who they are and what they believe in. But, they can get fired up with they need to and aren’t afraid to say what’s on their mind.

These attributes combined also make Cody one of the brightest stars in all of country music right now. Even as he becomes more mainstream with distribution deals and bigger tours, CoJo’s example to some of the up-and-comers on what it means to make good country music the right way-or at the very least, the Texas way, is unmatched. For a lot of Texans, is there really even a difference?

Buddy Garrity: Buddy was one of the more complex characters on the show. He manages to find himself in quite a bit of trouble throughout the show, but he’s also the President of the booster club for the Dillon Panthers and an important figure in the town of Dillon as a whole.

Unfortunately, Buddy ends up losing (his daughter) Lyla’s college fund on a bad investment, which only add to his problems in his personal life, like his divorce and troubles at his car lot. Back in 1990, the IRS sent Willie Nelson a bill for $16.7 million in unpaid back taxes due to some poor investments of his own. Ultimately, it worked out for both of them as Buddy eventually opened his own bar and Willie managed to pay back all that debt without getting into too much trouble. For better or worse, Buddy and Willie both have a little of that Texas outlaw spirit.

Jason Street: In the very beginning of the show, the Panthers QB1 becomes a surprising underdog when he gets paralyzed in a football game and remains in that role for the rest of the show. Funny enough, another mainstay in the Texas country scene by a man named Aaron Watson has an entire album titled The Underdog that encapsulates his position in country music. Not flashy, not the most buzzed-about in comparison to other more mainstream artists, but as real and reliable as they come… just like Jason.

Smash Williams: Although this might come as a surprise, I see a lot of comparisons between Smash and Evan Felker. While the Turnpike Troubadours are still on a hiatus, in their prime, we all know who the stars of the Texas/Red Dirt country scene were… just like we knew who the star of the Dillon Panthers was when Smash was on the team.

Julie Taylor: Not just for their long blonde locks, Bri Bagwell encompasses Julie Taylor’s spunk and tenacity that makes her such a fun character. While sometimes overshadowed by her larger-than-life counterparts on the show, Julie is steady and memorable throughout the series nonetheless. 

Lyla Garrity: Not unlike Kacey Musgraves herself, Lyla is a character who can take some warming up to. Beyond the fact that they both have gorgeous, long brown hair, they embody what it means to be a true Texas force. Lyla is never one to let anyone or anything keep her down and forges her own path as the show progresses, based solely on her own terms and what she sees for herself. As Kacey has become a mainstay in the music world, she continues to blaze her own trail and do it her way, and for her that means distancing herself from country music. Much like Lyla distanced herself from the Dillon Panthers as the show progressed.

Tyra Collette: If Kacey is Lyla, then Tyra has to be Miranda Lambert. This pick wasn’t made soley because of hair color, either. They’re both renegades who seem to lack a filter and will always tell you exactly what’s on their mind. They have enough grit to fill the state of Texas, and are easily two of my favorite people because of how they wear their hearts on their sleeves and don’t take no for an answer. 

Landry Clarke: Okay, this one was actually pretty difficult. Cleto Cordero is the frontman of Flatland Cavalry, and they’re some of the best in the business right now. While maybe a little bit quirky like Landry, Cleto is unafraid to be who he is and embrace the sound of the music he wants to make.

J.D. McCoy: This has to be Triston Marez. Though J.D. was a newbie who made his debut towards the end of the show, he made a big impact. Eventually winning the starting QB position for the Dillon Panthers, he encompassed everything about the culture in Texas and High School football, similar to Triston and his rise in the Texas music scene over the past year or so.

Luke Cafferty: Luke Cafferty is quite possibly the nicest, most wholesome guy on the whole show. He reminds me of Randall King for his sweet disposition and work ethic that is unmatched on the field. They’re as Texas as it gets.

Vince Howard: Another one who’s a bit of a wildcard, we see Vince go from a raw, fresh football player to winning a state championship. He’s full of heart and tenacity just like Zach Bryan (who’s also thinking about a football career of his own).

Billy Riggins: Billy and William Clark Green both seem to fly under the radar. WCG has one of the best catalogs in country music, and Billy can never seem to get past the bad wrap he got in High School. They both deserve more recognition and credit for different things. Billy grows as a character throughout the entire show into really good guy (which is saying a lot for a Riggins), and WCG continues to put out awesome country music that deserves to be heard by more people.

Matt Saracen: Matt is easily one of the most delightfully lovable characters on Friday Night Lights. No matter what is going on at Dillon High School, you can’t help but pull for him. The underdog Quarterback who becomes a mainstay for the Panthers, you just want to see him win. He’s infectiously kind-hearted and reminds me a lot of Parker McCollum in that way- and after you see my next pick, it will make even more sense as to why.

Tim Riggins: This was the easiest one of them all. If Koe Wetzel doesn’t remind you of Tim Riggins in almost every way, I don’t know what to tell you. Hair, attitude, personality… everything. The Riggins to McCollum’s Saracen, he completes one of my absolute favorite bestie duo’s not only in country music right now, but ever.

Riggins and Wetzel both have the demeanor of your quintessential Texas bad-boy, which is a big part of what, ironically, makes them so endearing. And if you look a little deeper, you might find a whole lot of heart below the surface. For both Koe and Tim, the harsh and rough exterior is just that. There’s a heart the size of Texas under the brash and ostentatious façade they often present to the world. 

I mean, did you really think anyone else would be Matt and Tim?

I hope this list has inspired you to go rewatch Friday Night Lights, turn up some Texas country music, or both. Because Texas forever.

And, make sure you check out our Texas country music playlist on Apple Music or Spotify.

Spotify

Apple Music

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