So we didn’t do a Nashville Chat for this season even though the TLF crew was equally as engrossed in this show as we were with Shonda’s Bucket of Cray. Keidra and Raizel decided to do a post season wrap-up instead.
KC: This was an interesting season, as finally Nashville found a broader audience, even though it was more uneven than the first season. It was soapier, for sure, but I didn’t necessarily find that to be a negative. Even as Nashville dealt in a lot of soap tropes (car accident, evil moms, random drug addiction) ,it managed to not go the usual soap route in execution.
As I said in my earlier essay about the show, Nashville manages to show the complexity of female relationships while not assigning blame for women’s choices, slut shaming, etc. Or, most importantly, Nashville does such a great job at showing the professional relationship between two women that are both colleagues and competitors without making one of them “evil.” I never felt like Juliette or Rayna’s success came at the expense of the others dignity. Nashville did right that Smash got so wrong. Yes, I’m still on that. But it really says a lot me about what it means to have a woman storyrunner (Callie Khouri), create stories about real women’s lives. I really think in the hands of someone else it would have gone completely off the rails with Juliette and Rayna fighting backstage in ballgowns next to a pool.
RL: I love seeing the relationship develop between Raina and Juliette. It is a unique one, considering that they aren’t romantically involved, or friends, or family. Or even supervisee-supervisor. Or enemies. Or frienemies. They are colleagues and sometimes business partners-like who have respect for each other, mostly. They just don’t understand each other’s choices.
Raina and Juliette’s relationship is complicated, but it isn’t complicated by the fact that they share an ex. And that is truly refreshing – I don’t think they have ever had one of those “he’s my man” arguments. The show overall allows exes to get along – if that is what they are going to do, with the normal “will they or won’t they get back together” elements common to an evening soap.
KC: Also, even though there was a change in music directors this season I really liked the songs a lot this season. They were probably poppier and less country-pop than hardcore country fans might like, but they were great and really fit the plotlines and characters. I was happy to see Gunnar and Scarlett reunite at the end of the season. Whether or not they are meant to be a romantic couple, they are musical soulmates and that bond is special. I hope Scarlett stays in Nashville.
RL: I hope Scarlett becomes the music writer she was always supposed to be. Perhaps she’ll perform, but she was never supposed to be a superstar. And even if a viewer hates Scarlett, I hope they at least appreciate that there are plenty of artists that never make it – and telling their stories rarely happens.
KC: I know some people HATE her and think she’s a mealy mouthed loser, and honestly there were points in this season where I wanted to smack the mess out of her too. I am still angry at her turning down Kelly Clarkson’s offer like she was a real person. But, as we’ve talked about before offline, we have not seen many characters like Scarlett before. She is an introvert. She has a musical talent, but was never comfortable as a performer the way that, say, Juliette is. But she’s young and pretty, so I can see why everyone assumed that performing was her destiny. I would love to see her stay in Nashville and take a different track as a songwriter and see what happens there. At EMP this year, a speaker mentioned that in real-life Nashville, the songwriters have the real power and influence in the industry. I would love to see that kind of storyline play out.
Now to Will, next season should be pretty groundbreaking, should he come out publicly. Though I am not clear, was his confession to Layla being recorded? I think Will’s storyline was one of the better handled ones of the season, and I think managed to make him both sympathetic and totally annoying, just like real people. Like Scarlett, Will had this idea of what was “meant for him” in Nashville, but like Scarlett you can’t deny who you really are and being in the spotlight like that will wear you down if you don’t feel like you can be your true self. I do feel for Layla, though she annoys me too. She just wanted to be a star and get married. But she’s young. *shrug*
RL: I’m also glad that the show tries to involve those in the music industry that aren’t stars — music label executives, songwriters, backup singers, and managers. There’s has been so much emphasis on this show about the songwriting process — how it is a creative effort that frequently is a very intense process, both for writers and performers. Though the only time Scarlett was totally unsympathetic was when she wouldn’t write for Kelly Clarkson.
KC: Avery and Scarlett were my favorite couple of the season, and it’s so rare to see a relatively normal couple on TV. All of their bumps and struggles were… normal. No secret babies or whatever, but the struggle of messed up people (or a messed up person, I guess?) struggling to be a couple. I hated Avery in the first season but he really grew on me, and he works with Juliette. He’s not very impressed by her as a star, but he cares about her as a person.
Finally Rayna, she kind of had my least favorite story arc this season. Honestly, I like Connie Britton but if she ever decided to leave and the show focuses on the up and comers, I would be OK with this. Hayden Panettiere could carry this show as a lead, easily. (And it’s SO crazy for me to say because she was so unexceptional in Heroes. But again, you have good material that you can connect with, I think it changes things.)
RL: I was thinking back on all of the people killed this season – Raina’s dad and Teddy’s newer wife (and Juliette’s mom last season). This show isn’t afraid of getting rid of characters – and that’s good.
Next season? I’m hoping for there to be even more music business drama and less relationship drama. But that might be seen as biting the hand that feeds.