Can we talk about Nashville? Not the city—though I imagine it’s lovely—but the soapy melodrama that sets family secrets and professional feuds against the background of country music’s Hollywood. Y’all, I am from New England and yet this show makes me say things like “y’all.” It is so crazy and over the top, but so good! If you’re not watching, you should be. The season premiere aired last week, and is On Demand now if you’re a cable watcher.
The get-your-bearings summary: Rayna James (Connie Britton) is country royalty, but her record label is more excited by the sales of young pop crossover star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). For Rayna to get a tour for her latest album, she has to make it a joint appearance with Juliette. These two rivals have a grudging respect for each other, but each has secrets of her own that keep them flawed and human, despite the lights and glitter.
Fortunately, XOXOAD has a number of Nashville fans, so you’ll probably be hearing about this show on the regular—but for now, I’ll just leave you with the Top 5 reasons you should be watching this show.
5. Storylines that pass the Bechdel Test
Nashville is a primetime soap in the vein of Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal (though this is not a Shonda Rhimes show; it’s created by Callie Khouri, whom you might remember from a little picture called Thelma & Louise), and while there are plenty of soap-worthy plotlines (affairs! political shenanigans! drug addiction! secret babies!), the fact that the two leads are both successful professional women means that we also get to see them in scenes where they’re controlling their respective empires, managing their brands, stretching their creative wings and otherwise having conversations that are NOT about who they love/don’t love/used to love/might someday love. And that, I love.
4. Joshua Jackson
This is kind of a surprise for me, and if I’d been writing this list last season, he wouldn’t be on it. Jackson (whom I still think of as Lucky from General Hospital) plays Avery, an aspiring musician with a devoted if milquetoasty girlfriend, and when she started finding some songwriting success, he got all jealous and pouty and generally unpleasant. I’d written him off–but then the show actually took him on what I suspect is kind of a typical journey for ambitious young artists: he sold out, discovered it wasn’t his thing, burned a ton of bridges trying to get out of a contract, and now finds himself lower than when he started, working as a roadie. But the experience has humbled him, and I’m interested to see what he does this season. (Though not if, as it looks, he’s determined to win back the insipid girlfriend! She’s the weak link on this show.)
3. Charles Esten
Charles plays Deacon, brilliant guitarist and recovering (sometimes) alcoholic who has been in love with Rayna for years. Sadly, for many of those years she’s been married to someone else. He’s gone on a spectacularly self-destructive bender this season, but I don’t care…I still love him! Someone put the perfect amount of stubble, guitar strings and testosterone in a blender and he’s what came out. Fun fact: as Chip Esten, he did 6 seasons as the accompanist on the Drew Carey improv show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” So those musical chops he displays on Nashville are genuine!
2. The Original Music
The show producers not only hired a number of actual musicians to act, but they have some of the top songwriters in Nashville (the city, not the show this time) creating songs for the fictional musicians to sing. Connie Britton can hold her own, but the biggest surprise for me is Hayden Panettiere—she’s really pretty good! (Must be why she now gets to sing in her very own ad for cotton.) One of my favorite songs was in the pilot—“Telescope”—but it’s done twice; once by Hayden/Juliette, and once by the actress/singers (Lennon & Maisy Stella) playing Rayna James’ daughters…who happen to actually be a Nashville act of their own. Check them out:
1. Connie Britton’s Hair
Seriously, people, it’s magical. Sure, she has a host of professional hair and makeup people working on her, but so do all the other cast members! None of them, no matter how beautiful, approach the majesty of Britton’s flowing locks. They’re a honey-colored waterfall with perfect shine and wave–I believe it’s possible that Britton may be part unicorn. When I googled for images to put in this post, Google auto-filled “Connie Britton hair” as soon as I started typing! If we could bottle the power of this perfect hair, we could bring peace to the Middle East, that’s all I’m saying.
Are you watching? What would be in your own Top 5 list? Let us know in the comments!