Like many Connie Britton fans, I couldn't wait for Nashville to premiere. With Thelma and Louise writer and producer Callie Khouri in charge, it promised to be cutting edge, engrossing, unique...the perfect vehicle to showcase Britton's talents and give Hayden Panettiere another feather in her acting cap.
It was apparent from the first episode the promise would not be fulfilled. Every imaginable pitfall and pothole plagued the script, mistakes so glaring it's amazing no one from the director to the actors or set maintenance crew caught any of them and/or had the guts to say, "That really sucks. Viewers won't like that." Here's the top 10 reasons Nashville won't ever become a classic:
1. Sappy Songs
Geezus, country music generally concentrates on lost love and fickle partners but there's also a lot of country tunes with levity and wit like "All My Exes Live In Texas", "A Boy Named Sue" and "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." But every song on this show makes you want to open a vein. And there's way too many per episode.
2. No Humor
With all the cheating and backstabbing, you'd think someone would interject a bit of humor into the conversation or a la Dallas or Glee or even Smash, call a slut a slut (men and women) or get a good chuckle out of how Avery always looks stoned, which is maybe why he can't get the breaks he thinks he deserves.
3. Poor Acting
Speaking of Avery, Jonathan Jackson supposedly left the General Hospital role of Lucky (which he had played since childhood) because he couldn't take the emotional ups and downs his character went through. Really? After almost two decades on the soap, you'd think he would've realized what was entailed. What he didn't realize is that on Nashville, he is expected to act, not just fulfill Jackson's dream of showcasing his mediocre musical talents. But he's not the only bad actor. Clare Bowen, his girlfriend Scarlett, has the face of an angel but plays her character with the passion of iceberg lettuce. Despite her claims, she shows no crazy obsession or even mild ardor for Avery or anyone else. Poets are normally much more intense.
4. Lack of Gripping Dialogue or Compelling Plot
If you can leave the room, make a sandwich, open a beer and return to the TV and not feel you've missed anything, there's something wrong with the writing.
5. Weak Men
There's a big difference between sensitive and weak. Rayna's husband Teddy is as vapid as a bowl of oatmeal, no mind of his own, easily manipulated by his evil father-in-law, apparently fine living off Rayna's salary. Her partner in song, Deacon, just wanders through life without direction and falls into bed with Juliette with the ease of rolling off a log. Gunnar crushes on Scarlett with big cow eye stares that make him look mentally and emotionally challenged instead of in love.
6. Stupid Women
Rayna lets her father walk all over her, Juliette shoplifts for attention, Scarlett is about to cave in to Avery's selfishness, and Juliette's mother Jolene isn't bright enough to realize rehab is a much better life choice than forcing herself into her daughter's house and life.
7. Cliche Names
Sure, some people in the South have "Southern" names but to have the whole cast named things like Scarlett O'Connor (a slap in the face to the most famous Southern Scarlett character), Rayna, Deacon, Avery, Gunnar, Jolene, Lamar and Coleman is absurd. Why not just throw Jeb, Jethro and Ellie May into the mix?
8. Cliche Characters
Why in god's name would they make Juliette's mother Jolene a (non) recovering drug addict? Make her foible something from the real world that hasn't been done a zillion times before. She could be a hoarder, kleptomaniac (which is where Juliette could have picked up the thrill of stealing), embezzler, boozer, fame seeker, prostitute, exercise freak -- anything but a drug addict. And why is Daddy always an evil politician and not a ne'er do well doctor, philanthropist, accountant or real estate agent?
9. Lack of Reality
No one ever eats or drinks. Not one pet is on the show; horses don't count. Rayna has two daughters and Lamar has one; no sons. And these characters have minor parts. Instead of everyone whining about their spouses and careers, showing some family conflicts and crises would juice up the plots.
10. Wasting Britton's Talents
With such stellar performances on everything from Spin City to The West Wing, 24, Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story, Britton deserves better from Nashville.
It's not just about too much music; Glee and Smash have proven a show can be full of singing and dancing and still draw good numbers. The difference is that Nashville thinks it can replace dialogue with music, which is a particularly hard sell with country music. Glee features hits from a variety of genres, and music is almost incidental to Smash's storylines. Nashville may be the country music capital of the country but to rise to the top, TPTB have to realize that the show needs more than twang to appeal to the masses.