ABC’s Wednesday night drama Nashville will start its fourth season on September 23rd. You might be familiar with Nashville’s hip- hop cousin, Empire. The country music- themed show filled the music show void left by Glee and Smash while incorporating elements of classic primetime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty, and paved the way for industry dramas like Empire. This show is the money.
Still, the season finale reached record lows, and Nashville is on ABC’s chopping block. I can’t let that happen!! Here are 8 reasons you should be watching:
1. Incredible talent. Created by Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise), this show employs the best of the best. T- Bone Burnett produced the first season’s music. But even the lesser- known names have incredible talent. Check out Sam Palladio, who plays troubadour Gunnar Scott. The guy can sing, like, eight octaves. Jonathan Jackson plays Avery Barkley and shreds on the guitar. Hayden Pannettiere and Connie Britton anchor the show and ya’ll loved them on Heroes and Friday Night Lights, right? Everyone on the show does their own singing and playing.
From music to costumes to sets, this show doesn’t skimp on details. If they say a character has a sold- out show in Chicago, they show you a sold- out show in Chicago. If they say they’re gonna stage a fake CMAs, they stage a fake CMAs. Nashville spares no expense.
2. Incredible music. I truly cannot understand why these songs don’t play on country radio. The music of Nashville is often more thoughtful and better mixed than the songs on country radio. IF you ever get tired of hearing songs about babes and booze, these tracks hit the spot. The songs range from original arrangements to covers of songs by artists like The Civil Wars, Patti Griffin, and Joni Mitchell. The music appeals to fans of country, alt rock, indie, and singer- songwriter music. Need convincing? I made you a sampler. Scroll to the end of this post.
3. Rayna James (Connie Britton) is basically Tammy Taylor the country singer. Rayna/ Tammy dish out priceless advice, learn from their mistakes and are the moms you wish you had. Rayna’s a little more promiscuous than Tammy, but Connie still brings her heart to the show’s soul.
4. It’s not all fluff. Although producers killed off the political intrigue when they killed off Lamar, the J.R. character in the show, Nashville includes snippets about the music industry. If you ever want to work in Nashville, you should watch Nashville. I learned about imprints, 360 deals, song publishing, and management. And there’s still some political drama, but it’s kind of weak.
5. Hot dudes. How old are you? Doesn’t matter. Nashville has a hot dude for you. I personally like Chris Carmack, who plays closeted gay cowboy Will Lexington (Bonus: Chris usually has the best songs). For the mature, there’s also Charles Esten, who I always think of as That Less Funny Guy from Whose Line Is It Anyway, and Will Chase, who I can’t believe isn’t a real country star. For the sensitive ladies, we have Sam Palladio. And for the Pretty Little Liars fans, we have a rotating cast of boy toys.
6. Do you like guest stars? Christina Aguilera, Sarah Evans, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, and Rascal Flatts all guest- star on this show. Some even do guest performances. It’s great to see Nashville is Nashville- approved.
7. It’s a great value. It’s almost good enough to be on cable. But, it’s on ABC, so you can watch it on Hulu, Amazon Prime, or your TV for pretty much free.
8. You don’t have to watch the whole series to start watching now. You SHOULD, because the first two seasons are heart- wrenchingly epic, but you don’t need to. The character- driven drama stays engaging and always includes a recap with what you need to know.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
- Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre), the trailer trash- turned- pop- princess- turned serious artist who fights like fire to keep her career going. Juliette is a bitch, but she brings the most drama.
- Rayna James (Connie Britton), the country classic who risks fading into history. She turns that around in a couple seasons by starting a record company. Rayna anchors the show’s older generation. Her main drama comes from her relationship with Deacon.
- Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten). Deacon’s alcoholism ruined pretty much everything in his life. He’s a sob story. But the other characters really care about him.
- Luke Wheeler (Will Chase), the man’s man and all- around good guy. Luke courted Rayna twice, she dumped him twice for Deacon.
- Scarlett (Clare Bowen) has the most unique voice on the show. She’s Deacon’s niece. Scarlett followed her then- boyfriend Avery to Nashville for his dream, got swept up in a record deal, blew it, and now works in a Lady Antebellum- esque band with her exes. She’s stubborn and pushy and wears awesome hippie- chic clothes.
- Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio). Gunnar has the hots for Scarlett. The two have sizzling chemistry. Gunnar is probably the most laughable character on the show. He wears vests and fedoras at the same time, if that tells you anything. Sam Palladio overdoes it with the overacting. But man, can this kid sing.
- Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) plays the brains of the operation. Avery walked away from a sleezy record deal and works as a producer and guitarist for the other characters. He and Juliette just had a kid.
- Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) wants country star status and a gay identity- but which does he want more? A touchy issue not often discussed. You might recognize Chris Carmack as that guy on The OC who banged Marisa’s mom/ was hotter than everyone else. He’s still super hot.
- Layla Grant (Aubrey Peeples) differed Harvard for her singing career. She won a singing show and got swept up in a Newlyweds– style reality show with Will, who married her to avoid rumors about his sexuality. She’s been through the ringer. She came out of the show looking like Jessica Simpson (dumb), she won and lost a few record deals, and almost drowned in a pool, but she’s moving forward! Aubrey Peeples has an amazing voice and an affinity for blues.
- Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson). Oliver Hudson is Kate Hudson’s brother and actually had his own short- lived show called My Guide to Becoming A Rock Star. Jeff’s the shameless promoter, but there’s more to him than that. He, like Juliette, is one we hate until we love.
- Daphne and Maddy (Lennon and Maisy Stella), Rayna’s kids. Teddy is Daphne’s dad, Deacon is Maddy’s dad. There was a big “You Are The Father” drama there. These girls are real- life YouTube sensation Lennon & Maisy. Maddy gets annoying but Daphne is cute as a button.
Sound like a lot of characters? Don’t worry. These writers make it work. They’re experts.
Nashville costs a bundle to produce, and it has lost momentum in the last few seasons. Hayden Pannettiere got pregnant. The writers wrote themselves into a few corners. Rayna wore an ugly wedding dress. But it’s back on track. The last soundtrack was the best yet. I like this show, I LOVE its music. If you want to support great art, support Nashville.