Friday, October 26, 2012


Uh-oh. I was all set to give Nashville a glowing review (it had the best pilot of the Fall season), but then I watched episode 3...and I found myself getting bored. So here is what is going to happen. I'm going to spend most of this post talking about all the good things about the show, and then at the end I'll just make a quick note of the things that started to get to me in episode 3. The take-away from this is that Nashville is a really good drama, and probably one of my favorite new shows of the Fall (my absolute favorite, Arrow, we'll get to next week).

You don't need to be a country music fan to like Nashville. I'm not (some Dixie Chicks albums are as country as I get)*. It's kind of like with Friday Night Lights, I could give two shits about football in real life, but while watching that show I was riveted. Oh, and I will watch anything with Connie Britton because she is amazing.

From wiki (because is blocked at work...lame):
The series stars Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, a legendary country music superstar, whose stardom begins fading. Her producers offer her a joint tour with the up-and-comer Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere),  the young and sexy future of country music. But both singers are pursuing their own goals.
There are other subplots swirling around our two stars, of course. Juliette wants to seduce Rayna James' band leader away from her (literally and figuratively) to head up her tour, and wants to be taken seriously as a singer and songwriter. Meanwhile, Rayna's Dad (Powers Booth--from Deadwood in a brilliant casting choice) is a millionaire up to no good, and convinces Rayna's husband to run for mayor as Nashville, for reasons that aren't exactly clear yet. There's also some other nonsense about someone's niece and the guy who is crushing on her trying to cut a demo but whatever. Drama!

Two things the show is doing really well: first, making its leading ladies interesting and substantial. They aren't just stereotypes or modeled too closely after celebrities in the real world. Sure, the "rising country music star" brings to mind Taylor Swift, but it's pretty clear Juliette isn't just a Taylor rip-off. Same thing with Rayna.  The "fading star" thing has been done before, but these ladies feel like real women with all their conflicting motivations and even inconsistencies. I don't think it hurts that Connie Britton is a wonderful actress and Hayden Panettiere has matured her acting way beyond Heroes.  They are both decent singers as well and it appears everyone on the show does their own singing.

"I want to be, like, respected and stuff. I can write songs too about boys and love and you know, other things that are super important."

The second thing that I really like is the hints of backstory. We know that Rayna and her father have had some epic falling out related to something in their past, but we don't know what. We also know that he is using her husband as a political puppet, but again, the reasons why aren't clear. Rayna and her band leader used to have a relationship, and there are hints that they still have feelings for each other. Even Juliette has a crack head Mom who pops up now and then, but I think there is something else going on with that story as well. I want to keep watching to fill in the story, and that's a good sign.

What isn't a good sign is how I felt after episode 3. Even though we are still in the beginning of the show, some of the plots have begun to stall. I get that Rayna and Juliette are going on tour, either together or separately--is that ever going to actually happen? I get that Juliette wants to steal away Rayna's band leader...but are they just going to keep dancing around that? Nashville has set up some really good plots, but they need to get the show on the road, maybe literally.

Despite these problems (which could disappear with next week's episode, who knows?), Nashville is a sold entry into this Fall's tv season and provides a welcome shot of estrogen of the awesome leading lady variety. You should give it a shot, even if you don't like country music. There's a lot here to love and I for one will put on my cowboy boots and sequins and enjoy the ride.

Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 on ABC.

More sequins!

*Full disclosure--I really like bluegrass. 

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