I have to be honest. I really had no interest in watching Nashville. I’m not a fan of country music, though I know a lot of people are, so I imagine there’s already a built-in audience for the show. That being said, I rather enjoyed the pilot episode and may actually hunker down to watch some more.
Nashville follows Rayna James (American Horror Story’s Connie Britton), an older, wiser country music legend who has actual talent and vocals that have carried her through 20 years of the country music scene. But her audiences are waning, and her record company needs her to engage a younger audience if she wants to keep her record contract and the seats filled at her concerts.
If having career problems isn’t enough, James is also dealing with problems on the homefront. Her strained relationship with her father (Powers Boothe) becomes even more strained when he directs his efforts at James’ milquetoast husband (Eric Close) to be his next puppet mayoral candidate of Nashville.
Enter Juliette Barnes ([amazon_link id=”B001B7CNWY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Heroes[/amazon_link]’ Hayden Panettiere), a young country crossover star who has a smidgen of talent, a size 0 body, and a lot of autotuning. Barnes’ Taylor Swift-like character seems to be a skankier, bustier version who proffers sex for opportunity. With a drug-addled mother looking for her next fix, Barnes tries to hide that past in the closet by literally hiding in the closet in one scene. She gets the males on her side the only way she knows how — by using her feminine wiles.
One of the men she’s trying to sway to her side is Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), James’ bandleader whose unrequited love for James can be heard in his songwriting. What’s a mid-40s man to do when a 20-something ingenue pays him attention – attention he never got from his unrequited love?
Clearly, ABC was looking for its own Glee-like franchise, and they may have found it with Nashville. What’s good about the show is that it doesn’t just use the plot to get from song to song, but contains an actual storyline that can develop into Dynasty or Melrose Place-type longevity. I’m sure ABC hopes to make a pretty dime off the music by having show creator Callie Khouri’s husband -– country legend T Bone Burnett — as music producer on the show.
While Britton and Panettiere’s voices are passable, the one to watch is Australian Clare Bowen (@clarembee on Twitter), who plays Scarlett, Deacon’s niece and up-and-coming singer-songwriter working at the infamous Bluebird Cafe. Her voice and even the song she sings in the pilot has a Norah Jones-like quality to it. I think it will be the runaway hit of the pilot’s soundtrack. Hard to say if Scarlett will become James’ secret weapon against Barnes or the future rival of both Barnes and James. (There’s a Bartles & Jaymes joke here, but I can’t find it…)
Is Rayna James’ character fashioned after Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Tonya Tucker or possibly an amalgamation of the three? No one will say. Neither will they say if Juliette Barnes is an alias for Taylor Swift.
Written and created by Thelma & Louise’s Oscar winning writer Callie Khouri, with music produced by T Bone Burnett, Nashville will easily get a second season order.
Nashville premieres Wed., Oct. 10, 2012 at 10/9c on ABC.
Looking forward to this new country music-inspired show?