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murder under the friday night lights

Television

‘Murder Under the Friday Night Lights’ Series Premiere: ‘The Cheerleader Murders’

Unfortunately, it is real.

Murder Under the Friday Night Lights is another true crime series about horrific crimes in the United States. The new ID series has an interesting premise. Episodes run the gamut from strange disappearances to cold blooded murder, but the difference is all the cases revolve around high school football. 

The first episode sounds like a Lifetime movie or a slasher from the 1980s. Unfortunately, “The Cheerleader Murders” documents actual events. In small River Oaks, Texas, a number of rapes soon turns to murder. Instead of showing how the brutality increased, Murder Under the Friday Night Lights chooses to work backwards. It starts with a murder in 1982 then proceeds to go back one year.

It comes out of nowhere, but does not end up hurting the point it is trying to make. As much as Murder Under the Friday Night Lights is about devastating events, it also is about the effect on the entire community. Using first hand interviews, the show is able to give viewers a sense of what River Oaks is like. More often than not, the people involved are more important that the actual case. This adds depth to what is transpiring.

It's hard not to wonder how much has changed.

“The Cheerleader Murders” also does an excellent job of explaining the attitudes of the 1980s. Victims of sexual assault knew speaking up would make little difference. As one of the male students says, the town was more concerned with where prom would be than the possibility of a serial rapist. There are even comments made by some that makes it hard not to wonder how much has changed. (The women are referred to as being “hysterical,” for example.)

Murder Under the Friday Night Lights ends up drawing audiences in on two fronts. There is the natural yearning to see the case solved, but there is also a genuine interest in the people involved. This ends up making the ending of the show extremely disappointing. Things wrap up in a rushed five minutes. There are some interesting points that are brought up and could have been explored, but things end with unsatisfactory text.

Murder Under the Friday Night Lights premieres on ID January 4

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