Nashville made its ABC series debut on Wednesday as fans finally got to see Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere compete for country music supremacy.
From creator/producer Callie Khouri, producers R.J. Cutler (The War Room) and Dee Johnson (The Good Wife, E.R.), Nashville tells the story of aging country music star Rayna Jaymes (Britton) who now finds herself at the possible twilight of her career as upcoming singer Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) is out to dethrone Jaymes as the Queen of Country music.
At the beginning of Nashville, country music legend Rayna Jaymes is forced by her label to co-headline a tour with their new superstar, Juliette Barnes. Although Rayna has already proven her worth as a country superstar, the label is looking to boost her lagging ticket and album sales by injecting new country blood into the tour.
At the same time, Rayna’s husband Teddy Conrad (Eric Close) decides to run for mayor of Nashville upon the urging of her estranged father, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe).
As Rayna’s frustration mounts, both personally and professionally, she reaches out to her longtime producer, Randy Roberts (Burgess Jenkins), for help. In another major blow, Randy tells her there’s nothing he can do until he finishes Juliette’s record.
Of course, as one would expect, Rayna loses it. In her moment of meltdown, however, she gave Nashville fans one of the best lines of the year. “Why do people keep pretending she’s good,” Rayna asked in frustration about Juliette’s music. “It sounds like feral cats!”
Prior to the premiere of Nashville, we all knew that Hayden Panettiere could sing. Over the years, Hayden recorded several songs for her films and even released the single “Wake Up Call” in 2008. What we weren’t expecting, however, was for Hayden to be so believable as a country music star. With spot on country twang and sultry southern charm, Hayden’s Juliette Barnes is the perfect crossover artist.
To Rayna, for obvious reasons, Juliette is nothing more than a flash in the pan.
As Nashville unfolds, we learn that Juliette’s extroverted nature is nothing more than a cover for a scared little girl who has a drug addict for a mother. Juliette hides behind her career and a constant need for affection, which she can only seem to satisfy through sex. It’s a little cliche, yes, but it’s believable and does happen in real life.
Although Juliette is cocky and arrogant at the outset of Nashville, her misleading wall of confidence slowly gets chipped away. And that’s one of the greatest strengths of Nashville, the richness of the characters. Viewers above the 18-34 demo will certainly relate to Connie Britton’s Rayna while those within the 18-34 will undoubtedly understand Juliette. Throw in some cool country music and you’ve got a lot of bases covered for potential success.
Nashville also shines through its local country intimacy with the music business. Places like the Blueberry Cafe are exactly what you’d expect: small, intimate and bursting at the walls with undiscovered talent. It’s where struggling poet Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) works and her uncle Deacon sometimes performs his original music.
Beyond the superstar status of Rayna and Juliette are the stories of many Scarlett O’Connors. At the gentle prodding of Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), Scarlett begins to put her poems to music. It’s that setting and that moment which gives Rayna new hope and possibly the chance to revitalize her career.
Through three different female leads, Nashville is about beginnings, endings, and potential new beginnings. Rayna’s the veteran, Juliette’s the rising starlet, and Scarlett is the scared poet who never thought of a career in country music at all. In Nashville, however, where your next big break could only be a song away, all three women will need to ponder one key question: what are they willing to give up in exchange for fame and success?
What did you think of Nashville?