Monday, October 3, 2011


The Best Time I Did Yoga With Someone From Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights just received a much-deserving benediction at the Emmy Awards, despite the fact that those stuffed shirts can never undo the great injustice of snubbing Mrs. Connie Taylor, a.k.a. best person/mom/actress/my personal idol. But that was it, Hairpinners and lovers of gritty television realism: Coach has moved on to playing very serious policemen in E.T. rip-offs, Tim Riggins has become one of the X-Men, and Lyla Garrity is a Charlie’s Angel. Friday Night Lights is over.

But the time I did yoga with Matt Saracen, QB1 of my heart, will endure forever.

If you’ve never heard of Friday Night Lights, OK, fine, I understand that you’ve been in a space ship for the last 17 years hanging out with Wall-E or whatever, and now is the time for you to immediately right your wrongs.

If you have heard of it and persist in neglecting it despite the fact that it, like Bon Iver and Downton Abbey and Feist, is essentially a Hairpin pop cultural mascot, but you’re willing to give it a try, do so now. It’s on Netflix streaming, and I bet your boss will let you take the week off when you tell him it’s for a show about high school football THAT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT FOOTBALL! IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!  ALSO: RACE! BIRTH CONTROL! CLASS! Bosses totally love shows about class relations, trust!

And if you’re one of those people who wish that all of us would just shut up with our “Texas Forever”-ing and “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”-ing and “Tim-Riggins-Take-Off-Your-Shirt”-ing, then close the browser, because I am about to make it smell like super fangirl up in this piece.

As some Hairpinners know, I like/am obsessed with hot yoga. Until I moved to Farm On Big Rural Green Hill, Vermont, from Austin, Texas, I did it every day. And I did it every day at a studio in the center of Austin, about five minutes from the university.

Which meant two things:

1. There was usually a quorum of generally hot men between the ages of 20 – 30, all practicing yoga with their shirts off, and

2. Friday Night Lights did its location shooting somewhat nearby.

I did not choose my graduate school based on Friday Night Lights. Nor did I choose my yoga location based on its proximity to the shooting locations. In hindsight I was just lucky, and if I had thought things out more clearly, I probably could’ve been roommates with Tyra. But as it was, I had to settle for living a four-minute walk from East Dillon High and seeing Coach at the movies with his family.

Over the course of Friday Night Lights five years on the air, most Austinites developed a sort of star-spotting bingo:  Buddy Garrity at the bar, Julie Taylor at The Driskell Hotel, Mrs. Coach at the Alamo Drafthouse, Lyla at the Crab Shack with John Mayer, Landry playing a show with his real-life-not-Crucifictorious-band, Tyra’s mom at my department’s faculty party.

But I had never seen Saracen, and I didn’t know anyone else who had either. Until one day, when I looked up from my downward dog, looked into the mirror, and thought Mmm mmm, that shirtless guy next to me is SMOKIN.' Look at his back! He looks like he could pretend to play football on network television!

And as we progressed through Warrior 1 and Warrior 2, as  I secretly giggled at the funny way that guys do Warrior 2 all splayed and awkward like, I very surreptitiously continued my mirror check-out. Who was this guy? Why did I recognize the freckles? What was it about that kinda sorta strawberry blonde hair, those intense eyes?

And that’s when it hit –

MATT SARACEN. QB1. BOYFRIEND OF JULIE TAYLOR, LIKE-A-SON TO COACH TAYLOR, APPLE OF HIS GRAMMA’S EYE. Next to me. Doing his very best to contort himself into Eagle-pose.

I tried my best not to pee or scream or whimper or start yelling FNL slogans for the duration of the class. I am proud to say that I succeeded, even if my savasana was totally filled with dirty high school football thoughts. But I had to be certain, otherwise this would be a story about the best time I thought I maybe did hot yoga next to Matt Saracen.

After class, we slowly filed out into the reception area. He went to the hallway to fetch his belongings. I knew I had to hear his voice: If i could hear the slight lilt, that promise of a Southern drawl, that softness, then I’d know it was him, and my eyes were not deceiving me.

He was standing in front of the cubbies, so I pretended I needed to access something directly behind him.

Oh, I’m sorry, excuse me, he replied. And there it was: the voice split its airtime between stumbling awkwardly around Julie and making fun of Landry. So little, but there was my proof positive. Maybe he’d take me the Tasty Freeze afterwards?

I watched him walk out. I conferred with my friend, also in the class, also beside Saracen in yoga, to see if she had recognized him. She dissolved into a pile of yoga clothes and stifled screams. We watched him stride across the parking lot, about to leave our physical presence forever, off to re-win and re-lose Julie Taylor’s heart.

And dear readers, now is when I get to tell you the best thing you’ll hear all day:

He was driving a Honda Civic.

Previously: Scandals of Classic Hollywood.

Anne Helen Petersen is a Doctor of Celebrity Gossip. No, really. You can find evidence (and other writings) here.

Photo by tom67, via Shutterstock

69 Comments / Post A Comment


Everything is Matt Saracen driving a Honda Civic in real life and nothing hurts.

Emily Warman@twitter

"Excuse me, uh, Coach?"

Emily Warman@twitter

Also, my friend Kevin had a baby (lol to that statement, always) and named it Riggins.


@Emily Warman@twitter: Not only do I find this reasonable, I am pissed that someone got there first. It has been pretty much decided that we will use either Riggins or Landry when the time comes.

I have so, so wanted to know if the actor who plays Sarcacen is just a phenomenal, talented actor, or if the casting director was a mad genius/thrift store forager.

Emily Warman@twitter

@karion I know, I want to see him in other things. I love him so much the answer doesn't even reallyyy matter. Also, Mrs. Coach in that scary horror series? Yes, please. Tyra as Superwoman? I guess that's fine. Jason Street at Rachel Bilson's love interest in my new favorite show, Hart of Dixie? I actually can't think of a more perfect new project for him. I don't really want Tim Riggins to ever do anything else though.

Anne Helen Petersen

@Emily Warman@twitter Matt Saracen was in Post Grad, starring Rory from Gilmore Girls and, oddly, Michael Keaton. It might actually be the worst movie of the last two years. My heart broke.


@Anne Helen Petersen I want Michael Keaton to happen again, but I think that movie made my wish impossible.

Tammy Pajamas

@karion Matt Saracen was my favorite too. "Was" because I PAed a movie he was in and a) he's kind of short (not sure why this is still surprising to me) and b) perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer. That said, I think he was excellently cast and really probably is rather Saracen-y in real life. Not sure he's got that much range though. But he was very nice. And adorable. But now Riggins has moved into the #1 slot.


Ahhh I am giddy for you!


OMG, I drive a Honda Civic too! LastMinuteLulu + Matt Saracen 4-eva, carved into a tree trunk.

I can't believe your kept your composure though. Mad props to you! I would've lost my shit, even if he's no Tim Riggins or Coach Taylor ::swoon to both::


Oh man oh man. Great Matt Saracen moments, anyone? Like [VAGUE SPOILER ALERT] that scene in the funeral home? With the casket? And then after, at Coach's house? GIVE ZACH GILFORD ALL THE EMMYS.

Emily Warman@twitter

@TheBelleWitch Oh my god, that episode. The fourth season was my least favorite but that episode was perfect television.


@TheBelleWitch I watched the scene at the dinner table after he sees his father over and over again, it really stuck with me. It was cool to see the kids on that show grow up and (for the most part) become better actors.

Anne Helen Petersen

@TheBelleWitch Can I add the scene when Coach catches him in bed with Julie? OMG SO GOOD/FUNNY/HORRIBLE


@Anne Helen Petersen YES. Aaah, the incredibly awkward backyard grill-cleaning confrontation! Seriously, I am amazed by your yoga-class poise. I would have been your dissolved, shrieking friend, except I would have been shrieking about my favorite Matt Saracen scenes.


@momentisaflower What gets me about that scene is how there's a line in there that could have easily been a disaster (Something like, "I wanted to tell him to his face, but he doesn't even have a face"). I saw it coming and was just cringing thinking how it was going to ruin the whole speech, but no! Somehow Gilford's delivery made it work. And then I cried, the end.

Emily Kaye Lazzaro

@TheBelleWitch Also when he's at the funeral and the McCoy's come to the door to give him this like giant fruit basket and he's like "ARE YOU SERIOUS??!" And he slams the door in their face. I cackled with glee when that happened.

Anne Helen Petersen

@Emily Kaye Lazzaro MCCOY SLAMDOOR = the best.


@TheBelleWitch I just finished watching FNL, and Little Matt Saracen is my fictional husband forever (along with all the other male characters?). So it's very hard to determine my fave scene, but it might be when Matt gets a lil drunk and Coach throws him in a shower with his clothes still on. And Matt is all "My Mom left me, my Dad left me, Julie left me, You left me! What is wrong with me?" and Coach replies "Ain't nothin' wrong with you, son". This is so late, but I need to express my opinions!!


Aggghhhh, I am so happy to finally hear this full story!

squid v. whale

I'm melting in my desk chair, but would rather be melting in that Japanese passenger seat. I'd also scrounge around under said seat for his 50-CD wallet. "Oh, I love this Bon Iver album."


Ahh, this story made me feel all tingly and excited


So I totally forgot the breathe the whole time I was reading this. How did you contain yourself?? And of course Zach Gilford is as much of a gentleman on TV as in real life!


Grinning from ear to ear right now. I have been dying to hear the details of this story for soooooooo long! It is my favorite story of all the stories. Thank you!


Also, I should say that I have been doing hot yoga daily for the past 3 months, and it has changed my life, and a full 30% of the credit for this goes to your hot yoga article. For real.


This is only kind of related, but I have to share.

Last night, I was at Starbucks writing.

Someone walked in.

I thought, "That looks like... that REALLY looks like..."

And then Emma Watson sat down at the table next to me.

And then I died.



@LaFabuliste Oh man. Did you get any writing done after that? I would have spent absolutely all my mental and physical energy being studiously nonchalant while inwardly freaking out and wanting to tackle her with inappropriate female affection.


@LaFabuliste Ohhh my god did you say anything to her? Did you ask her to take you shopping and be your best friend? I would have died. I am so jealous of you!


@figwiggin That is basically what I did for the rest of the night.

And I didn't say anything to her! I had to be a cool, uncaring New Yorker. But OMG WE ARE SO MEANT TO BE BEST FRIENDS.


Oh Matt Seracen. I dutifully watched you on Off the Map for the entire season before it was canceled. And even though you were a different character, I just kept imagining you were still Matt Seracen because it kept the dream alive.

Megan Soto@facebook


Anne Helen Petersen

@Megan Soto@facebook OH MAN YOU ARE SO RIGHT

Megan Soto@facebook

@Anne Helen Petersen Had to call you out - I was lashing out in extreme jealousy!


Every part of this made me want to pee AND scream AND whimper AND start yelling FNL slogans. On my one visit to Austin my friends saw Tim Riggins in a coffee shop when I wasn't with them. One of the saddest moments in my life.


@yamtoes I really wish I'd been there with your friends because I'm not 100% sure Taylor Kitsch is physically possible. It'd be nice to have some kind of validation.


What type/school/breed of yoga? do tell!!


Also, I just started watching FNL (can I call it FNL?). I'm two episodes in. And I've already cried.


@LaFabuliste You can absolutely call it FNL, and you will cry at every episode.


The Best Time I Saw Matt Saracen's Penis In A College Play.

(I know I've said it before, but it does bear repeating)
(and, no I do not remember what it looked like... I was high, and who knew that lanky kid would grow up to be QB1?)


@liznieve wait whaaaaa?? This story needs retelling.


@momentisaflower oh, I went to the same college (in the same class) as Zac- I MEAN MATT - and had lots of friends in the theater department, was dragged to many plays, and Mr. Gil- I MEAN SARACEN - was frequently au naturel. I mean, as part of the play, not just for his own funsies. I believe I saw him in Equus? But this was somewhere between 6-10 years ago, and like I said, ahem, cough, well, it was college.

Derek Kompare@twitter

Best media scholar meets celebrity idol in yoga class story EVER!


Ohhh Anne Helen, I love you, and I am so jealous of your hot hot yoga experience with Saracen, but please! It's the ALAMO FREEZE. As in, "They made me employee of the month at the Alamo Freeze... A-GAIN."

Anne Helen Petersen

@jceekah see my shame above.


@Anne Helen Petersen Gah! I was so excited to write a line in Saracen-speak that I jumped the gun! A-GAIN.


I remember you mentioning this in one of your scandals of Classic Hollywood posts. THANK YOU FOR ELABORATING.


I just finished watching and good GOD that show is good. Matt Saracen is the arty wounded bf I always wish I had. Not to mention he is foooooine. I admire your restraint, I would have not been able to get into the positions what with my giant lady boner.


After reading this, I will forever instinctively check to see if Saracen is on the mat beside me (even though I'm doing yoga in Berkeley)


The main reaction I've had to this article was "How did I live in Austin for two years and only see an FNL cast member while driving down Guadalupe?" (But really, Taylor Kitsch was driving a beat-up red truck and it was PERFECT.)

Also thought, "But which yoga studio? It must be by Hyde Park if it's near East Dillon." Clearly, my life has been wasted to this point.

Anne Helen Petersen

@JaffaCakes I practiced at BFree, which is on 29th and Lamar. But yes, I lived in Hyde Park RIGHT NEAR EAST DILLON BIG SIGGGGGGGGH


@Anne Helen Petersen I may or may not have driven past East Dillon a few too many times, hoping to catch a glimpse of Monsieur Saracen...


Tami Taylor not Connie! Also, I'm beyond jealous.

Anne Helen Petersen

@ziggystardust my conflation of "real" names with character names is clearly a problem.

so what?

well i just about died. QB1! my all-time fave! dream bf! also i just finished FNL and am still in the "i want to talk about how great it is all the time" haze.


Clear eyes, full hearts, can't Ūrdhvamukhaśvānāsana!


This is weird, but I too did a yoga class with a star from FNL. Ashtanga Yoga at Castle Hill with Becky Sproules, the young lady with the ongoing crush on Riggins. It was fun and distracting.


LADY GIRL, YOU LIVED IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! I once did shots with Tyra and Tim Riggens lived upstairs from Jo's Coffee downtown, ordered a double egg white omelet every day after running around Town Lake and was never ever a dick about according to one of my friends. Thus concludes my long-held-back FNL-associations.

Anne Helen Petersen

@Meredith Fay Lovelace My kingdom for shots with Riggins and Tyra.....


Man, I would do yoga next to Matt Saracen so hard...


Will nobody else challenge the statement that Feist is a Hairpin mascot?


@melis Yes. Thank you. I will.

Fear Biter

@ Anne Helen Petersen Is it weird that I am more envious of your ability to find a place to do hot yoga, than of your amazing brush with celebrity? After your previous hot yoga post I spend hours madly googling for a place in San Francisco with no luck. (Well, one place that is super inconvenient for my work schedule/location). Do you think it is not a thing out here? Do we call it something else? Can any Bay Area hairpinners help me out???
I mean clearly I also assume that I'll end up doing my hot yoga next to some hot famous guy ... so my priorities are not totally out of balance, just so you know.


@pixie in p : try searching for "Bikram" yoga. I know that hot yoga is most definitely a thing in San Fran.

Anna Brones@twitter

Ha! Love this! Got to hang out with Saracen a few weeks back when he was in town for a screening of The River Why.... super funny dude, although I had to watch myself in order to not call him Matt.


I am basically screaming into a vortex forever at this article. I cannot even imagine. EEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEE!


Yoga sport can self-cultivation.

Sam I am

I read this article the first time around before I had seen FNL, and enjoyed it then. But now that Im 4 seasons in I'm squeeing at every line in article. I *think* I would have been able to keep my composure but I would have been shattered if he didnt give me that shy, sweet smile.

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