The super-soapy drama didnt so much better climb the shark as partake in a enraged exhibition of shark dressage that continues to this day
In October 2012, Taylor Swift vacated her cowboy boot with fourth album Red. Country music involved a new savior: a bankable girl act to split a sea of indistinguishable bros. She didn’t arrive toting an acoustic guitar down Music Row, but via a glitzy drama referred Nashville that premiered that month.
And there used to be two of them. Generated by Thelma and Louise writer Callie Khouri, what looked like a show about the brutal 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 persuasion Juliette through interminable emergencies: shoplifting, rash decisions and her drug-addicted mother’s death in a murder-suicide pact.
Nashville was relentlessly soapy, relying on collisions, enjoy triangles, parentage dress and outbursts. But its first succession had depth, examining a city at the heart of US culture with a feminist lens on its music industry( both starrings and amateurs) and scathing insight into government decay, via Rayna’s crooked mayor partner. It felt like cable drama on network TV and attracted 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 craving: to alcohol( Rayna’s lifelong flame Deacon Claybourne ), capsules( Juliette and meek Scarlett O’Connor) and damaging ties-in( literally everyone ). By season two, however, the indicate was losing its shit: memorable backgrounds included the mayor’s mistress buying a container of pig’s blood to forgery a failure and extort him.( She got a soapy comeuppance: DEATH .) The municipality inclination vanished. The rogues were pure panto: Rayna’s slimy label boss Jeff Fordham; conniving ex-talent-show-star Layla Grant. Scenes lasted about 30 seconds, the drama provided by someone ambling in at an inopportune moment to render some more expository talk. There was so much dry stockholder converses that you could understand why so many hotshots behave badly. It had an scandalizing reliance on the” magical negro” trope: pitch-black personas who aid lily-white references’ self-discovery. And when all its songwriter attributes achieved popularity, the bets dissolved.
And yet Nashville was wonderful. Daft, campy magnificence, fastened by empathic guides( such as Chris Carmack as gay vocalist 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 mourned Jeff, the most difficult character, falling to his death? Or when Rayna’s bratty daughter Maddie relentlessly haunted liberation? For me, it came in season five, when Rayna expired- at actor Connie Britton’s request!- following a car-crash-related coma( she’d already existed one in the opening season ). Cue a neverending panorama where each persona saying goodbyes felt like a funeral for the show’s good sense. A sixth line starts next year, but the old Nashville can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because it’s dead !