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. Continue reading