There is nothing more annoying that seeing blurbs on promos for new fall shows proclaiming the show is “the best new drama this season”. Why? Because ninety percent of them are NOT the best and most are mediocre. By the way, NBC’s Chicago Fire lost to Nashville in its time slot, big whoop! Chicago Fire is not the best, but it’s not terrible. Translation: possible cancellation.
I love Nashville, the city. It’s my most favorite city on the planet. I have many friends who live there and a few of them work in the music industry. I work at a country station, so I’m always curious about what goes on in Music City U.S.A., what drama is going down. If I had to classify Nashville I would call it a “ripped from the headlines” type of show. Almost everyday, some aspiring songwriter/artist or one of those move to Nashville, and every day someone’s career is rising and someone’s career is sinking. Just throw in an Oscar-winning screenwriter and former Nashville resident Callie Khouri, she won twenty years ago for Thelma & Louise, put together some new songs, some stock stories, and a decent cast; you’ve got a show. The problem, it’s not original.
The only reason Nashville will succeed is the music, the cinematography, country music fans, and Connie Britton. Yes, Connie Britton who plays Rayna James, our star whose career is on the downfall, will play a big part in whether audiences will flock or flee from Nashville. The rest of the casting is sub-par in my opinion. I’m not a Hayden Panettiere fan, and yes she can sing, but I’m already turned off by her character Juliette Barnes, our rising star. As I was watching last night, one of my Nashville friends put out the comment asking whom did we think the characters are based on. For Rayna, the name most thrown around has been Faith Hill, which is accurate, and Hill herself, is trying once again, to make a comeback. The real singer Juliette is based on is a little more complex to figure out. Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood seemed to be the popular choices, however, both artists, as far as we know, didn’t come from Juliette’s background with the drug-addicted money-grubbing mother. By the way, whomever did Sylvia Jefferies’ make-up nailed the “road hard” and stung out look. I personally think of Tanya Tucker when I think of Juliette. She starts singing and making hits young, sleeps with older guys, but I don’t know if she did it to further her career.
I also liked two other characters, Rayna’s father Lamar Wyatt, played by one of my favorite character actors, Powers Boothe, is rich, ruthless, and power hungry. But he was a lousy dad and he favors Rayna’s sister who is his protege’ and he’s not a fan of Rayna’s career path. The best surprise, is songwriter and part-time actor J.D. Souther as songwriter and producer Watty White. His performance seems the most real out of the everyone in the cast. Okay, well Connie is good too, I love her! Then the cast gets predictable. Charles Esten plays Rayna’s guitar player and former lover (unoriginal) Deacon Claybourne. Oh and he writes songs, and he has a niece, Scarlett O’Connor, played by Clare Bowen, who is an aspiring poet/songwriter. There’s Rayna’s husband Teddy (Eric Close), who lives off her money, but he’s convinced by Lamar to run for mayor against Rayna’s friend Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom). I hate to see the show get muddled by a political scrap.
Obviously, the other star of the show is the music. Artists such as The Civil Wars, Hillary Lindsey, Kacey Musgraves, and Elvis Costello are among those who have composed original songs for the series. These songs are available for download and I’m sure the producers are hoping, like Glee, the series will get a boost from its music sales. I just hope the music outshines the story writing. It needs help, or a big plot twist. Previews don’t indicate a big game changer, and that’s why I’m worried.