Surprising encounters in gay bars

When we talk about the so-called Golden Age of Television that we are presently living through, the common elements of the conversation are well-established: anguished middle-aged white men, their put-upon and much-despised wives, issues of sexual assault and debates about ultra-violence. But as I have been watching through Friday Night Lights for the first time, it struck me that some of these shows have another element in common: surprising encounters in gay bars.

In Friday Night Lights, Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) accompanies her friend Devin Boland (Stephanie Hunt) to the gay bar closest to their small town of Dillon, Texas, as a gesture of solidarity. As Devin tentatively exchanges glances with a few cute girls close to her age across the bar, Julie looks around, unsure of her role in the proceedings now that she has given Devin the courage to make the drive and walk in the door. And she finds herself locking eyes with someone unexpected: Stan Traub (Russell DeGrazier), the assistant coach who works with her father at the newly reopened East Dillon High School.

It is a moment that brings Stan’s character into sudden focus. We, and Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), first met Stan at his day job at Sears, where he explains that he has been faxing Taylor his r