I’ve been meaning to catch up on Nashville, since it seems like my cup of tea. It’s about musicians in Nashville, livin’ the lives country songs are written about. I meant to watch it last summer, so I could watch season 3 live, but life happened, and it got bumped down the list. A little over a week ago, I realized it had almost been another summer, and I set to work. I binged this sucker like I hadn’t binged in a right long while. Totally. Worth. It.
Do you like soap operas? Do you like tired tropes? Do you like sassy ladies and the men who love them? Then you need to watch this show, too. I would say spoilers ahead, but most of the major things are telegraphed anyway. It’s a self-spoiler! Still amazing, though. Here are some thoughts:
Okay, so this was clearly a pilot written after the success of Country Strong. I’m not mad at it. It’s All About Eve in the world of country music. Fun.
Every character is a soap opera cliche, or does something soap opera cliche. I am loving this! The first rule of a soap opera secret-keeping: if you have a secret that you don’t want anyone finding out about, talk about it in open public spaces, as often as possible, at regular volume or louder.
Deacon has some weird motivations. Even as this is happening, I’m already thinking, “When I get to the end of season 3, I’m going to be all, ‘remember that time Deacon slept with Juliette? WTF was up with that?’ What an odd plot direction.”
Which reminds me, I LOOOOVE these names! These are great daytime names. Gunnar, Avery, Scarlett, Juliette, Deacon, Rayna—and then there’s Teddy. Boring, politician Teddy. Clearly not an artist like the rest.
The music on this show—Wow. I was not expecting that. I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting it to be so friggin good, with T Bone Burnett in charge of things, but like, holy crap. I think I was expecting it to be a musical show with a similar musical quality to Glee: where the songs are accessible covers of known stuff, or just weak imitations of the songs they really wanted to have. But, like, whoa. I remember the music landscape in 2012, when the show started. The Americana movement was in full swing, and country music was being played on more than country radio. Mumford & Sons & the Lumineers were huge. The tight vocal harmonies in this show are giving me chills. Scarlett & Gunnar are better together than apart, because their voices are like Voltron. Sure, alone, they’re pretty cool robotic cats, but together, they’re a giant robot guy who can kick serious ass.
Juliette has some really catchy tunes in that empowered-lady vein. Very Carrie Underwood/Kelly Pickler. It’s strange that Rayna’s stuff is my least-favorite, since she’s the one the show is built around. I love that the ones she wrote with Deacon sound so much older, and from another time. The one about Mexico is kind of great, eventually. I hate the way it starts, but it gets cookin’ in the chorus. And holy cow, Will’s “What If I Was Willing” sounds like something they play all over country radio right now. It’s bro-country, but in that fun, party way. It has been stuck in my head for days, and I’ve never even heard the whole thing.
The Rayna-Deacon storyline is so cliche, and yet so heartbreaking. I am rapt, watching and feeling every little bit of that heartache and devoted sadness. The actors are doing a great job expressing this complex, historic relationship. Sure, I believe no one on this show when they sob, because it’s most often hilarious and too much for the moment, but it’s the little exchanges and moments—the ease and rapport they have—that is fully realized and relateable.
Maddie the daughter is wearing glasses. I give them a season. Then she’ll have a makeover and be pretty. Because on soaps, you can’t be pretty AND wear glasses.
Scarlett’s extensions make me crazy.
Juliette’s wig is so hilarious. It’s a hair-helmet.
Avery is a bona-fide soap actor. Now he gets a primetime work schedule, which I imagine is better than the pace of daytime. I just wish he’d cut that hair. Camp Nowhere was a long time ago, kiddo, and it was an unflattering style then. Because of his history on My Soap, I am willing to deal with this D-story, off on his own, making bad decisions, barely interacting with the core ensemble. I’m sure he’ll be back around. They hinted at something in the pilot that should pay off at some point, methinks.
Okay, it’s not just her wig. Juliette is hilarious. She’s demanding and short-tempered and often exasperated, and her delivery and pacing are great.
I generally can’t stand Michael Huisman, who is suddenly everywhere I turn. It’s like he’s got the male-equivalent of beer-flavored nipples. However! I think he’s a great fit for hipster musician. This seems just right.
Uh oh. There’s pills. I think we know where this is going....
Will is a wholly new & interesting fella. Talk about heartbreaking, when he’s gay but can’t even admit it to himself. He’s been taught by everyone he loves that being gay is a choice and it’s wrong, and shameful. He believes it. He knows enough that what he feels needs to stay secret, if he hopes to have any sort of career in country music. His audience is filled with people like his family, who believe the same thing. He can’t even say the word “gay.” That’s some heartbreaking stuff. I want to give him a hug and let him cry it out.
I’m a little disappointed that Peggy is the crazy lady. I wanted more for her.
Luke Wheeler is the new Big Star in Town. Luke Wheeler is not good for Rayna. Rayna has been a woman in charge of herself, with the man she loves always beside and behind her. In comes Luke Wheeler, and he is not happy with that setup. He wants his woman behind him. He wants her to not work. He wants her to do as she’s told. He wants her to stop thinking for herself, and give no guff. Rayna don’t play that.
The women on this show are pretty ballsy, and well thought-out. Rayna has built an empire. Juliette is aiming for the same, and will do what she needs to to get it, even if she’s got a temper that makes her more short-sighted, and that will fight against her big plans. Scarlett seems modeled after Loretta Lynn to me. Common sense to spare, and dropping blunt-yet-sweet truth bombs all over the place. She is on my list of role models.
No soap cliche would be complete with out the Super Important-To-Someone New Character We’ve Never Heard About Before who comes to town and everyone acts like they’ve known about her this whole time. Not naming names. Zoey.
Will’s marrying that girl? Oh honey. No...
The Avery plotline hinted at in the pilot is paying off! So sweet. “I don’t believe in fairy tales,” says the princess who’s about to fall in love with the pauper. Why am I a sucker for this stuff???
Loving Juliette’s revenge song. A little disappointed that it wasn’t received like the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.” That Grammy performance is still giving me chills. Juliette’s song sure felt like that to me.
The beautiful thing about the All About Eve storyline is that it’s self-renewing. There will always be a younger up-and-comer ready to claw her way to the top, and there will always be a wizened pro, ready to keep her down. Loving that they’re keeping it going.
Scarlett’s mother is terrifying. Her wig is pretty scary, itself.
Luke is proposing?? Marriage??? To Rayna???!? What. The Hell? Somebody is moving a little fast.
So this is the Long Lost Children Show now? Okay.
It’s Ryan! From Y&R! and sometimes GH! Who also had a catchy country hit as part of a duo, back in the 90s! He’s a manager, in search of a band. Why am I loving this casting so much???
Pregnant Juliette is hilarious. Clearly on actual bed rest, but seriously hilarious. “Touch my caramels, and I WILL cut a bitch.”
Will continues to break my heart. I’m glad that he’s gotten more comfortable with himself. It’s hilarious that the guy who had a book full of girls’ numbers couldn’t ask out the guy he actually liked. So much awkward. So sweet.
Seriously, I watched this show obsessively for days. Thought about it all the time. Like a crazy person. Why do that for some silly soap? I have no idea. Probably because though I know the stories and the archetypes, it’s really solidly done, and the music is fantastic. I love that they repeat the songs so much. I hope they do more repeating in season 4 than they did in season 3. It seemed like people were writing new stuff all the time, and then it vanished. Kiley had better be gone in season 4. I don’t trust a word she says. Gunnar shouldn’t, either. If he and Scarlett are really “just like Rayna & Deacon,” then it’s about time for them to have a reunion, right? And she’d better not run off with that doctor. I hope Maddie wears glasses around the house, because it’s her home and nobody wears contacts all the time. This is a soap, not Game of Thrones. There is no way Deacon doesn’t come back in season 4. Such a good cliffhanger, this time. Can’t wait for what’s next! ETA: IT WAS WRITTEN BY THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THELMA AND LOUISE??!?!
This explains so much.