Episode 1: I Fall to Pieces
By: Carlos Uribe
Nashville is a series about the country music scene and the political scene of Nashville.
Nashville is by all intents and purposes an interesting series to think about. It's a show that has surprisingly good country music, it's embraced it's soap opera nature, and it has some of the best performances on broadcast television. It's managed to pick up it's narrative speed so things actually seem like they're happening. At the same time, it's almost impossible to actually get excited about this show. I don't think I've ever gone in my head “I can't wait until Nashville comes on the air.” I dropped this series from the review roster after the thirteenth episode because it simply wasn't a fun series to review on a weekly basis. I tried sticking with it as a normal viewer but I didn't want to put in the effort to keep up with it. It really wasn't until a few weeks ago that I went on Hulu and finished the first season. I mean, I know this show has good enough writing and acting that I should be watching it but...it's hard to motivate myself to actually do it. The first season ended on a cliff-hanger that didn't really work. The car crash felt more like a mid-season cliff-hanger than a season finale cliff-hanger. The marriage proposal was between two characters I could care less about. It really didn't make me want to watch the second season premiere at all. The only reason I saw it was because I wanted to check in on the show for the blog and because I have a television where I can watch live broadcasts. It was on after Modern Family so it didn't require any effort from me to tune in. I'm sure if that wasn't the case then I wouldn't have bothered tuning in. It's not a decision I would have regretted it. I have no real interest in continuing to watch Nashville and this premiere didn't really give me any reason to do so. This is because Nashville has a lot going for it but it can't help but be one thing: immensely boring. Why is that?
I think it's because there are so many elements of Nashville that I simply don't care about. Gunnar, Avery, and Scarlett are three very uninteresting characters that take up a huge chunk of the running time. In case you're wondering, Gunnar and Scarlett have broken up but they're okay with being friends and singing buddies by the end of the episode. She's ready to have her singing career under Rayna's label while embracing the idea of being single for now. In addition, she tries her best to help her uncle before having a small crisis on whether she should help him at all. Avery doesn't really do much but he is supportive of her. As for Gunnar? A significant portion of the episode is spent trying to make him accept that things are over with Scarlett so he can start to move on. Will, an actually interesting character because he's fighting his homosexuality so he can be a country star, throws a party so that Gunnar can meet new girls. This doesn't really work but Gunnar does take some steps in the right direction. That's what happened but the problem is I don't really care about Gunnar. He's such a bland character and the attempts to make give him a dark edge have largely failed miserably. He's better than Avery (I still hate Avery with a passion) but it's hard to root for him when he's so boring. As for Scarlett? She was okay at first but her naïve personality has gone from being adorable to being flat-out annoying. The fact that their part of the show remains such a strong part of each episode is simply mind-numbing considering how little they actually add to Nashville. The only good part about this part of Nashville is Will but the premiere largely treats him as a supporting character. Granted, the actor playing him is now a series regular so he's here to stay but the premiere doesn't really seem to reflect this promotion.
I've watched a lot of shows where there's whole sections that I'm not interested in but the fact is Nashville is mostly from boring from beginning to end. The country music is good but you can easily listen to it without watching the visual montage that usually accompanies it without really missing anything. A huge flaw with the premiere was that it sidelined Rayna. She's in a coma for pretty much the whole episode. Considering how Connie Britton is one of the two powerhouse performers on Nashville, this decision makes very little sense. It's like removing one of the few pieces that actually works in Nashville's favor without doing anything to compensate. The writers do try to create some tension that she might not make it but come on: did anybody actually think the show was going to kill off it's Emmy-nominated actress? Obviously Rayna was going to wake up. There is another reason she was put in a coma and that's because of Deacon. He's arrested because he claims that he was driving while drunk. He feels guilty for what he's done and he's terrified that he might be a father so he basically locks himself up. He refuses any counsel and is willing to suffer the consequences. The lawyer realizes that his non-cooperative nature was because he feels guilty so she investigates Rayna's injuries. The evidence concludes that Rayna was actually the person behind the wheel. Deacon is let go from jail but he still has to deal with almost killing the love of his life and having a daughter. It's a good crisis to tackle and the show handles it well enough but at the same time...it really wasn't drawing me in.
The show also employs some pretty silly twists. The first is the idea that Lamar actually killed his wife because she was leaving him. It's the kind of over-the-top twist that's made because Lamar is supposed to be this antagonistic character. He's not the most likeable villain but if the police are right then Lamar will quickly find himself with no fans. It's hard enough to root for him to have a relationship with his daughter when he's so contentious but at least you can understand his frustrations towards Rayna's career. His power hungry nature is hard to swallow but it's tempered by Powers Boothe's charisma. Having Lamar kill the mother of his children? There is nothing to offset that. It's an over-the-top twist that actually turns him into a literal threat and continues to feel out-of-place even on this current, soapier version of Nashville. The second twist is that Peggy gets a miscarriage but lies about it. Oh my gosh, really? That's where you're heading Nashville? Full soap territory? A few other odd plot turns is that Scarlett suddenly has a childhood friend we've never even heard of. I don't mind a show changing a few things up but that just felt very forced in. As for the show's best character? Juliette tries to use Rayna's memorial to sell her album and learns that Deacon is Maddie's father. It's a bit odd she's very underused in this episode.
Overall, Nashville is a show that I'm losing a lot of interest in even casually keeping up with. It has good writing, performing, and even tackles some strong character drama but never in an actually entertaining or compelling way. The music simply isn't enough to even draw me in anymore. The season premiere itself had some separate issues: concentrating on characters I don't care about, removing Rayna from most of the episode, and over-the-top twists that don't really work. The season premiere might keep fans happy but it's the latest piece of evidence that this show simply isn't going to work for me. So with this I bid adieu from Nashville. It's doubtful I'll ever cover it again or even watch another minute of it.