As y’all know (sorry, I’ll stop with the y’alls, I swear), I’m a hardcore fan of Connie Britton, so nothing was going to turn me off to her new show, “Nashville.” I also happen to be one of those California-raised Northeast transplants that fetishizes the South. I melt the moment Blake Shelton opens his mouth. I love to karaoke Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That.” Those accents are an instant panty dropper for me. I’ve never been anywhere in Texas besides their various airports, but I still like to say “Texas forever.” Don’t even get me started on Johnny, Dolly, Patsy, Waylon, and Merle, okay? You get the point. So a nighttime soap starring Connie Britton as a country star? Giddyup, I’m there. The great news is that “Nashville” is as good as the hype suggested, and features a complicated cast of characters and a multi-layered storyline that makes it so much more than “Smash” gone country. Let’s recap!
Hayden Panettiere plays Juliette Barnes, a pop country star on the rise just as Rayna Jaymes’ (Britton) star is on the way down. Rayna is an old school singer and doesn’t get the appeal of Juliette’s auto-tuned fluff, and balks at her management’s strong suggestion that she drop her solo tour and “co-headline” (i.e. be the opening act) Juliette’s tour instead. I couldn’t help but imagine aspects of these two characters are based on reining country queens like Shania Twain and Faith Hill and country pop upstarts like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. In the scene above, Rayna meets ambitious at-any-cost Juliette and the two briefly swap deliciously passive aggressive polite barbs. “Bless your little heart, that is a charming story” is totally going to be my new “cool story, bro.”
Juliette has her eye on Rayna’s band leader (and former beau, it’s implied) Deacon and wants him for her band badly. Especially once she overhears Rayna dissing her singing skills to Deacon (who she’s just slept with). The inclination is to really, really hate Juliette, but she’s hardly one-dimensional — her mother is a drug addict who always calls her asking for money. It’s understandable where her cold demeanor and desperation to succeed comes from.
Meanwhile, Rayna’s recovering alcoholic husband, Teddy, is sick of living in his wife’s shadow and jumps on a chance to seize the spotlight for himself when Rayna’s sleazy businessman father taps him to run for Mayor. Rayna is opposed to his running — she doesn’t trust her father or his motivations — but is basically forced to go along with the idea.
And in the clip above, aspiring country singer Scarlett O’Connor shocks the audience at the Bluebird Cafe when she gets onstage and sings with hot young guitarist Gunnar Scott. Rayna’s manager gets an idea and calls her on the phone — could Scarlett be Rayna’s chance to save her tour?
Did y’all (sorry) catch “Nashville”? What did you think?