The lights on Dillon's football field went dark back in 2011, but Connie Britton's fond Friday Night Lights memories from her time on the beloved NBC and DirecTV drama haven't faded one bit. Much like the fans, the actor is still in awe of the enduring power of the show's central couple, Coach Eric and Tami Taylor. During a Vulture Fest panel, Britton revealed why Tami and Eric's marriage was so realistic, and yes, it was thanks in large part to the unwavering commitment from the actors who brought these characters to life.
Britton and her onscreen husband, Kyle Chandler, approached Tami and Eric's marriage as a partnership right from the start, and that made all of the difference. "I think that we both were very fortunate because we really shared the same values in terms of the stories that we wanted to tell about marriage," the former Friday Night Lights star revealed. "We wanted these two people to be real partners to each other, and that was first and foremost."
More than that, both stars were keenly aware of all the ways TV tends to get marriage wrong. They never wanted Tami and Eric to fall into the trap of having affairs to create drama; instead they were both passionate about ensuring the struggles they faced were grounded in a truth people at home could relate to.
Britton even revealed that both she and Chandler balked at the mere introduction of the idea of manufactured drama when Glenn was introduced in Season 4 as a potential love interest for Tami. "Kyle and I were both like, we see what you're doing here with Glenn, and even that was borderline pushing the limits," Britton said with a laugh.
For these actors, it was a matter of finding the heart of what makes a marriage work and exploring the small, subtle ways married people can both build each other up and tear each other down. The relationship between Tami and Eric was full of moments that real life married couples could relate to, including the show's beautiful full circle ending that found Eric agreeing to leave Dillon so Tami could pursue her professional dreams in the same way she moved for him at the beginning of the series.
"If cheating and jealousy weren't on the table, then we could really tell the story of people who were just trying to make their marriage work," Britton explained to the audience.
The result of the work she and Chandler put into preserving the honesty of the Taylors' marriage still endures today. The Taylors are regarded by many TV fans to be one of the most realistic couple to ever grace the small screen, and that's no doubt because of the full hearts of the show's stars.
Additional reporting by Lindsay Denninger.