I tuned into Nashville with low expectations, thinking I’d be watching a kind of soapy, sexy Jilly Cooper-esque Dolly Parton-themed Dallas-type show. Boobs, hair and country music (not knocking Dolly. Love Dolly. Anyone who doesn’t is clearly a fool). But much as I loved Dallas in its day for being such splendidly camp tosh, it quickly became clear that Nashville isn’t a glamorous soap at all. Well, not just that anyway. You have boobs and big hair, it’s true. And some splendid country music. But, actually, it’s a classy-as-heck drama and it’s beautifully written. And why this is so quickly became clear when I realised who the writer was – it’s the woman who scripted Thelma and Louise, Callie Khourie. And she’s done a cracking job here.
As you might expect, at the core of Nashville is the relationship between two interesting, complicated female characters. Country singing legend Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) has just hit forty, and her power is beginning to wane. Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is a successful, thrusting minxy young up-and-coming star, with a huge teen following (including Jaymes’ daughters). Their male (shared) record label bosses want them to tour together with ‘joint billing’. But, of course, someone has to go on first, and they want it to be Rayna, which would be a huge come-down for her. Plus the women can’t stand each other.
But (and this is where the classic C&W backstory comes in) she’s saddled with huge debts because her husband did some dodgy dealings a few years before. Rayna has a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with her scheming, manipulative Daddy Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), a quite JR-like patriarch, who wants to control her via her weak husband, getting him to run for Nashville mayor as his puppet candidate.
Juliette has an estranged drug-addict mother who keeps trying to track her daughter down to sponge money off her, and generally rain on her parade. And Juliette wants credibility as a singer, not just to be a pop idol for teenyboppers. To help her achieve this, she is very determined to get her mitts (professionally and personally) on Rayna’s former lover (but with feelings for each other still not behind them) and current lead guitar player, Deacon Claybourne.
There lots of crackling sexual tension. It’s all beautifully shot in a way that makes Nashville look deeply attractive.There are many interesting characters – such as the sweet, talented but shy waitress Scarlett O’Connor. Lots of the music is sung in the classic country music venue, The Bluebird Cafe. And the music is brilliant. I’m still humming different songs from the show days after having watched it. I’m sure someone who knew more than me about the country music world would spot lots of topical references, and possibly that the characters are based on real country legends (or an amalgamation of them). But you don’t need to be in-the-know to enjoy this. I’m not sure you even need to be a huge fan of country music.
I’d get on down to 4OD and catch yourselves up with the first three episodes of Nashville if you haven’t been tuning in so far. It’s great stuff.
Posted by Inkface