The fact that Nashville happens to be my new favorite show on TV this year has surprised me as much as anyone. I’m not a country music fan and never really have been. I’ve also tended to stay away from prime time soap operas: I’m not so big on the whole everyone-sleeping-with-everyone format that shows like Grey’s Anatomy adhere to. But Nashville has quickly nestled it’s way into my cold TV heart where usually only Real Housewives and NBC sitcoms reside.
So imagine my surprise when I learn my esteemed colleague Cassie not only doesn’t particularly care for my new fave, but she’s come up with ten logical reasons as to why it will never be a hit. And nonetheless, her reasons for hating Nashville are some of the reasons why I love it the most! So here’s my top 10 reasons on why Nashville is one of the best new shows of the season:
1. Great Songs
While other TV shows in the musical genre (see Glee and Smash) use overwrought and overproduced musical numbers (and in Glee’s case, with songs that aren’t even original), Nashville often relies on the connection of character through the lyrics and poetry in the songs they perform.
Original music for the show is also written by T-Bone Burnett, who has film credits (and Oscars) from impressive movie soundtracks like O Brother, Where Art Thou and Crazyheart. Dude has cred. And the songs these characters sing are honestly written and beautifully performed with an edge of nostalgia that brings us back to all country music was ever supposed to be about.
2. Something For Everyone
Not only does Nashville appeal to the country-music-loving audience, but because of the age gap of their two stars, Hayden Panettire at 23, and Connie Britton at 45, they can pull in viewers from both the Taylor Swift fan base and the Faith Hill fan base, for example. And in each of their character’s respective worlds, there are age-appropriate plot lines that both groups can relate to.
3. Good Acting
Besides Connie Britton, who is an a category of her own by somehow making a Nashville superstar not only likable but relatable to this Mid-westerner who lets just say would fall more into the age-group of the Juliette Barnes fan base, is nothing short of amazing. But her chemistry with Charles Esten, who plays ex-flame Deacon, is palpable on both ends.
And let’s not forget professional villain Powers Boothe, who plays the mysteriously deplorable father of Britton’s Rayna Jaymes. While the younger actors may not be as weathered, Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio should be commended for hiding their Australian and British accents, respectively, and for making us root for their musical love story.
4. Interesting Plotlines
While the draw of Juliette and Rayna going on tour together that was teased at in the pilot never came to fruition, there is still a lot going on in Nashville. There’s Rayna’s husband’s campaign that forces him to face some of his dirty secrets along with throwing his running-mate and also close family friend under the bus. There’s the intriguing Rayna-Deacon-Juliette love triangle. Juliette’s troubled past. Scarlett and Gunnar’s budding romance. Rayna’s self-liberating album. Each week there is more to get hooked on.
5. Interesting Male Characters
It may be said that a lot of the characters seem too much alike (especially Juliette’s manager and the music producer: I just learned that those were two separate characters) the men in the show mostly play second fiddle to our two lead females… which is just how I like it. But none of these good ‘ole boys are one dimensional either. They all have both likable and unlikable traits and multifaceted characters are what makes dramas like these successful.
6. Strong Women
This is probably the reason I like this show the most. When I started watching the show, I assumed I’d be Team Rayna all the way. But after only one episode in, I realized it wouldn’t be as simple as that. It’s hard to choose now because their characters are kick-ass women who pretty much do whatever the hell they want. And the kick-ass nature in both of them means they would probably be on each other’s team, if only they could put aside egos and realize that despite the 20 years that separate them, they are in this same crazy business together.
7. Adorable Names
Come on. Who wants another show with regular old names? This is Nashville! And even when it comes to names like Scarlett (an homage to the famous Southern belle), Rayna, Deacon, Avery, Gunnar, Jolene, Lamar and Coleman, in Nashville, you go big or go home!
8. Intriguing Characters
Not only do the lead men and women make the show great like explored in numbers 5 and 6, but supporting characters are giving interesting roles as well. Juliette’s mom’s addictive behavior explains some of the reason why she feels alone and at times defensive. Coleman’s struggle to make the decision to start a smear campaign against Teddy makes for a story line worth debating. Every side character is given his or her own personal back story which not only makes for entertaining TV, but it puts openings throughout the show that may be explored in the future.
9. A Glimpse at the Biz
Now I’m not claiming to know a thing about the music industry or how things are actually done in Nashville, but I do appreciate a good “behind the scenes” and “behind the fame” story. And Nashville gives you just that, with its plot lines revolving around all of the work it takes for Rayna to get an album made and it’s showcase of private concerts at the Bluebird.
10. Connie Britton is Awesome
I loved Britton as Mrs. Coach in Friday Night Lights just as much as one woman can love another (fictional) woman. But now she is shining on her own and she gets to keep the cute Southern accent and even show off her vocal skills. She’s beautiful, she’s smart and she’s talented and all three of those things and more shine through Rayna every time she’s on the screen. I’m glad she’s finally being used in a show where her true star power is fully realized.
It’s true: Nashville is not just about the music. But you should definitely come for the music and stay for the drama. And Connie Britton. Always stay for Connie Britton.
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(Image courtesy of ABC)