TV Series Review
Rayna doesn't just sing country songs. She lives them.
Same could be said of everyone in Nashville, though—the show, not the city. It's full of cheatin' hearts and achin' souls, of drink-filled Saturday nights and prayer-rich Sunday mornings. Why, the show itself even moved on like a country music heroine, breaking up with old flame ABC and setting up shop with CMT just 'round the corner. The only thing we're really missing in Nashville is a dead dog and a broken-down truck. But give it time.
Nashville is a blend of soapy romance, big-business intrigue and some honest-to-goodness country music crooning. But while the drama may still have its new-series smell—at least on CMT— the central premise is as old as country music itself.
Friends in Low Places?
Rayna is an aging star struggling to keep her place in country music's firmament. She's still got the pipes and still commands respect. But her records aren't selling like they used to, and lately she's spent more time as the founder and head of Highway 65, a music label signing promising new country acts.
Juliette Barnes is everything Rayna's not: young, hip and oh-so popular. All the tweens go crazy for her sassy pop-country style, and industry execs just love her figure—or rather, her figures. She makes them money. They make her records. But that's not enough for Juliette: She wants respect. She wants confirmation that she's a legitimate musician, not some sort of fad. She wants … exactly what Rayna has. But a recent brush with death forced her to reexamine her priorities. Could it be that Juliette might actually change her ways?
It would seem that these two could find a way to work together, and they do … warily. But in Nashville, heartbreak is rarely more than a new verse (or episode) away. And with new characters always hopping into the show's soapy surroundings, there are always more excuses to stir the proverbial pot.
If you're familiar with country music, or if you wander over to the Plugged In's music section and check out a sampling of Adam Holz's country music reviews, you know that the genre is a mixed bag. Musicians play plenty of lip service to down-home values and front-porch charm, and you'll hear way more references to prayer and the Almighty than you'll ever find on, say, Lady Gaga's latest track. But if one song is full of apple pie and grandpa's wisdom, the next could be swimming in whiskey and a cloud of marijuana smoke.
So it stands to reason that Nashville—a show predicated on the country music business—would share some of that moral schizophrenia.
Walking the Line
People divorce and remarry here faster than you can switch tracks on Spotify. Eyes wander, hearts cheat, and there's always another love knot to untangle just around the corner—sometimes between a couple of guys. (Much has been made of gay country music star Will Lexington's growing relationship with fellow singer/songwriter Kevin Bicks, including the fact that the two are moving in together.)
But even as this same-sex relationship takes a more prominent place on the show in Season Five, so does the healing power of God. When Juliette is mysteriously rescued from a plane crash, she searches obsessively for her savior. She eventually finds Hallie, a devout Baptist who volunteers regularly at the church and tells Juliette, "I've been praying for you." When Juliette confesses to Hannah that she wonders why she—being the horrible person she's been—didn't die in that plane crash instead of all the good people who did, Hallie tells her that perhaps God was giving her a chance to change.
"If I started praying now, God would just laugh," Juliette says.
"Not the God I know," Hallie tells her.
Even when God isn't a part of the proceedings, Nashville still embraces strong, timeless values like hard work, charity and family. It suggests love and forgiveness can go a long way to curing the ills of this world.
And all that's great, of course. We don't see that sort of honest good will on, say, Game of Thrones. It's just a shame that the show requires plenty of forgiveness itself.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes; Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes; Clare Bowen as Scarlett O'Connor; Eric Close as Teddy Conrad; Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne; Powers Boothe as Lamar Wyatt; Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley; Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott; Robert Wisdom as Coleman Carlisle; JD Souther as Watty White