I Can’t

If you watch Friday Night Lights and you plan to watch last Friday’s episode on Hulu, don’t read any further until you have done so. Or, if you are interested in a great show, you can go watch this episode on Hulu and come back. But be warned that you will be hooked on this show! The episode is called “I Can’t”. And, yes, I know that if you have Direct TV, you may have already seen this episode and the one’s after, but please keep that to yourself!

“It’s very obvious that my mom wants me to have this abortion, because I was her mistake.”

I got home from work today, finally had time to go to Hulu and watch the last episode of Friday Night Lights, and spent the rest of the day feeling disappointed in one of my favorite shows. To recap the main story of the episode, Becky, a sophomore at West Dillon High School, is pregnant by Luke Cafferty, who goes to East Dillon High and is the running back for their football team. Becky’s mom, who became pregnant with Becky while very young, is insistent that Becky have an abortion and the episode focuses on Becky’s decision. So that’s really what you need to know.

I overcame my disappointment because I realized that the writers of Friday Night Lights were only reflecting society in general. It is treated as a given that Becky will be wasting her life if she carries her baby to term. She tells Mrs. Taylor (Principal of East Dillon and wife of Coach Taylor, football coach at West Dillon) “We don’t have any money. I’m in the 10th grade. It was my first time, and I threw it away, and I don’t want to throw my life away.” Youth. Economics. Life wasting. It is almost cliched the way we assume that those things conspire to create an automatic abortion. Ultimately, a baby is a burden fit only for those of a certain age and financial situation, however those who don’t meet the baby criteria are hardly ever told to be responsible in the first place, only that an abortion or a ruined life are the only choices. It is the ultimate exercise in narcissism. When Becky asks Mrs. Taylor what she would tell Julie, her daughter, in the same situation, Mrs. Taylor responds that she would “…tell her to think about her life. To think about what she wants. To think about what’s important to her.” Roe v. Wade seems to have liberated women to be completely self-centered. What a victory.

And where does Luke fit into all of this? Not surprisingly, as in society, he doesn’t. He is told of Becky’s abortion after the fact. Luke, the father, is as important to the story as the goalpost props on the football field. He exists to confirm for the audience that Becky’s situation was not initiated by a visit from an angel. In short, he exists to play the same role as fathers in real life play to those who support abortion rights. That is, no role at all. “Luke, I took care of it” Becky tells him, likely angering many who would prefer the sperm donor not get such a courtesy.

In the end, Becky had an abortion because her mother, ultimately, gave her no choice. It brings up the interesting issue that pro-choicers rarely discuss the number of, for practical purposes, forced abortions against the wishes of girls who are under 18. How hard are those who fight for “choice” fighting for the choices of those girls, I wonder?

In the end, we see Becky’s tears of regret. In the end, it’s one more way that Friday Night Lights got abortion right.

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