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Feel-Good TV: Connie Britton of "Friday Night Lights"

Who would expect a show about high school football to offer up the most compelling and complex portraits of women on television this side of "Mad Men"? 

NBC's "Friday Night Lights," which enters its fifth and last season this fall on DirecTV (you can catch up on past seasons on ABC Family), revolves around two fictional teams in the small town of Dillon, Texas. 

But it's Connie Britton as coach Eric Taylor's passionate and headstrong wife, Tami, who frequently steals the show. She's a high school principal who often finds herself trying to do the right thing when her town -- and sometimes her husband -- would rather she do the convenient thing instead. 

Watching her and Kyle Chandler's Eric as they try to square their hopes and dreams, and to support each other when those dreams seem to be crumbling, is to watch a woman redefine what it means to stand by her man. 

"From the beginning, Kyle and I wanted to create a marriage that had a real sense of foundation and mutual respect," Britton says. "I didn't want this character to be the old ball and chain." 

The result is that she's made committed marriage seem like the sexiest deal going. 

"I've had people come up to me and tell me that the show made them want to be a better husband or a better wife," she says. "I'm incredibly honored when I hear that." 

For all of the above, Britton's got our vote as prime time's most valuable player.

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