I have to say, it feels really good to have a show like Nashville to watch. I can settle in for an hour on Wednesday night and prepare to be entertained. I don’t have to think about what lessons are being taught or what messages are being sent. This is television at its purest form. Take a break from real life and escape with these characters for an hour. The ultimate guilty pleasure – music, sex, and lots and lots of drama.
Nashville focuses on the careers of two very different country divas. Rayna Jaymes (the magnificent Connie Britton), the successful veteran whose career has spanned two decades and who represents class and staying power; and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), the new girl on the scene, whose rapid rise to fame has been mostly on the shoulders of tweens dancing along to her pop-inspired songs. Tensions run high from the moment these two meet, and we see the clashing of the old with new.
Rayna and Juliette are signed to the same label, and as Rayna’s career is in jeopardy of fading out, Juliette’s is just beginning to take off. But Juliette is a wild child and constantly running into PR trouble, causing major headaches for the label and all those in charge of keeping her career moving forward. The perfect solution to both problems is to team these two up for a co-headlining tour across the US. Rayna can benefit from all the seats Juliette can fill and Juliette’s reputation will benefit from time spent on the road with Rayna. Throughout the early part of the season each lady fought this proposal hard, but ultimately after some plot twists and turns, which I won’t bore you with, the tour is on! When we last left our friends, they were finishing up a stint in the Big Apple.
The other major piece in the Rayna/Juliette showdown is Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), Rayna’s longtime guitarist. He’s also the first love of her life, though she’s been married to someone else for about 13 years. Rayna and Deacon’s love is the stuff great television is made of – years of longing, a break up due to circumstances not falling out of love, and crazy crazy chemistry – and we have spent the majority of season 1 watching them dance around each other, bumping into all the obstacles that are thrown their way. One of those obstacles is Juliette, who managed to sleep with Deacon within days of meeting him, weasel her way into writing music with him and then somehow convince him to go on the tour as her lead guitarist after a falling out with Rayna left him unemployed. Over the course of the show, Deacon has been one of the only people to see the “real” Juliette – the one who has an actual soul and wants to make meaningful music – but even his patience is wearing thin after being subjected to Juliette Barnes up-close-and-personal for too long on the road.
Meanwhile, Rayna’s husband Teddy has filed for divorce, and it seems like the timing might finally be right for Rayna and Deacon. But, as luck (and television) would have it, Deacon has just recently hit it off with his veterinarian and suddenly finds himself in a committed relationship for the first time since Rayna (what are the chances??). The worst part about Deacon’s girlfriend, Stacey (Susan Misner) is that she’s actually likeable which is just going to make it upsetting when Deacon ditches her for Rayna, which is obviously where we’re heading. I mean, it better be, anyway.
Elsewhere in Nashville, is Deacon’s innocent niece, Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) and her broodingly handsome and talented writing partner, Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio). Scarlett and Gunnar first started making music together by accident – she was a poet, he played guitar – but next thing you know, they’re both singing the shit out of these duets and everyone is freaking out about how they’re the next Deacon and Rayna. Meanwhile, Scarlett’s musician boyfriend, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson, aka Lucky Spencer, aka, my crush through most of adolescence) isn’t too happy with a) how close she’s getting with Gunnar and b) the fact that she’s finding success in music when his band has been struggling for years. Avery finally gets his big break but it comes at the cost of his relationship with Scarlett (she wasn’t so into him sleeping with managers to get them to sign him). Avery sold his soul to the devil, needing to ditch his bandmates to make a deal. He was psyched about his paycheck, but he paid the price in the form of losing all of his friends and any control over the music he was making. His exit from the picture made room for Gunnar, who moved in with Scarlett (as roommates) and then started sleeping with her (as more than roommates).
In the far more boring corner of Nashville, we have the Teddy Conrad (Eric Close) storyline. This, for me, is the snooziest (it’s a word if you know what I mean) part of the show. Rayna’s (ex-)husband, Teddy, ran for mayor under the guidance of Rayna’s horribly evil father, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Booth), who hoped to gain control of the city with his son-in-law in office. Of course, this meant that Teddy was a pawn for Lamar’s dirty business dealings. Under normal circumstances, Teddy would have just said no, but seeing as he has his own skeletons that Lamar has helped him bury in some super shady way, he owes him. Even so, Teddy decided to go behind Lamar’s back and appoint his former opponent in the mayoral race as his Deputy Mayor, much to Lamar’s horror. Oh, Teddy is also doing this Peggy Kenter lady (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) who was involved in his illegal business and also leaked his divorce to the tabloids (Teddy just found out about this – watch out, Peggy).
And that pretty much brings us up to date. A few loose ends just so you can keep up:
-Juliette’s mother, Jolene (Sylvia Jeffries) is an alcoholic who is trying very hard to get sober. Deacon, also an alocholic, has been very supportive of this process. Recently, Jolene has begun working with a “sober companion,” Dante (Jay Hernandez). Dante and Jolene went on the road with Juliette and naturally he started screwing Juliette. So, he is no longer seeing Jolene in a therapeutic capacity, but Juliette has made him her manager, cause that seemed like a good idea.
-Avery regretted his decision to sell out to the highest bidder and has since burned his demos and hit the road as a roadie. He tried to peddle his music elsewhere, but turns out, he burned a lot of bridges with those reels.
-Scarlett and Gunnar have a new upstairs neighbor, Will (Chris “welcome to the OC, bitch” Carmack). I have not quite figured out his deal, but something’s up with him. Commenters, any thoughts?
-Rayna has started her own record label and the first artist she signed is Scarlett, Deacon’s niece! (Gunnar missed the audition, Scarlett got signed as a solo act)
-Oh also! At one point, Juliette dated a really cute Tim Tebow-esque virginal football player. If you have some time, go back and find those episodes, he was dreamy.
Make sure to meet me back here after next Wednesday’s all new episode! See you then.