The super-soapy drama didnt so much better jumping the shark as partake in a enraged show of shark dressage that continues to this day
In October 2012, Taylor Swift abandoned her cowboy boot with fourth book Red. Country music necessary a brand-new saviour: a bankable girl act to split a sea of indistinguishable bros. She didn’t arrive carrying an acoustic guitar down Music Row, but via a glitzy drama mentioned Nashville that premiere that month.
And there were two of them. Formed by Thelma and Louise writer Callie Khouri, what looked like a show about the wicked strife between faded celebrity Rayna James( Connie Britton) and the ruthless, rising Juliette Barnes( Hayden Panettiere) was more complicated than that. The tirelessly compassionate Rayna actually coaxed Juliette through limitless crises: shoplifting, rash decisions and her drug-addicted mother’s death in a murder-suicide pact.
Nashville was relentlessly soapy, “il rely on” coincidences, affection triangles, parentage dress and tantrums. But its first succession had depth, exploring a town at the heart of US culture with a feminist lens on its music industry( both starrings and amateurs) and scathing insight into government corruption, via Rayna’s crooked mayor spouse. It felt like cable drama on network TV and lured appropriate heavyweights: Powers Boothe as Rayna’s dastardly father, Lamar Wyatt; The Wire’s Robert Wisdom as deputy mayor Coleman Carlisle. Plus, it had killer songs.
It also sensitively tackled addiction: to alcohol( Rayna’s lifelong flame Deacon Claybourne ), pills( Juliette and meek Scarlett O’Connor) and pernicious ties-in( literally everyone ). By season two, nonetheless, the see was losing its shit: memorable incidents included the mayor’s mistress buying a barrel of pig’s blood to fake a miscarriage and blackmail him.( She got a soapy comeuppance: DEATH .) The municipality inclination vanished. The rogues were pure panto: Rayna’s slimy label boss Jeff Fordham; conspiring ex-talent-show-star Layla Grant. Scenes lasted about 30 seconds, the drama provided by someone walking in at an inopportune moment to provide some more expository exchange. There was so much dry stockholder schmoozes that you could understand why so many celebrities behave badly. It had an appalling reliance on the” supernatural negro” trope: black reputations who facilitate lily-white reputations’ self-discovery. And when all its songwriter personas achieved reputation, the stakes dissolved.
And yet Nashville was wonderful. Daft, campy brilliance, anchored by empathic conducts( such as Chris Carmack as gay singer Will Lexington) who softened its ridiculousness. There was no single shark-jump; this was shark dressage, and beautiful to watch- until it wasn’t. To pinpoint exactly when Nashville fell off, you’ll need a lot of bolts and a hardy physique for trash Tv. Was it when you sorrowed Jeff, the worst persona, descending to his death? Or when Rayna’s bratty daughter Maddie relentlessly sought release? For me, it came in season five, when Rayna succumbed- at actor Connie Britton’s request!- following a car-crash-related coma( she’d already endured one in the opening season ). Cue a neverending stage where each attribute saying goodbyes felt like a funeral for the show’s good sense. A sixth sequence starts next year, but the old-time Nashville can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because it’s dead !