Friday Night Lights was not a show about high school football. It was about Tammy Taylor. And Nashville isn’t really a show about Nashville. It’s about Rayna James. And that is because Connie Britton is inescapably charismatic. Her hair is perfect and full of secrets. She’s defying all Hollywood stereotypes for an “older actress” as she continues to make shows with her sheer presence. She also is one of the prettiest people, and I hope my daughters all look like her instead of me. So, having said all of that, you can guess that it’s a pretty big deal that her character was killed off last night on Nashville.
We’re basically all dead now because when Connie Britton eats a cheeseburger and dies, we all eat a cheeseburger and die too. No, but seriously that’s what happened. Kind of. The show’s choice of how to kill Rayna was interesting. After she evades a knife attack from a stalker, her vehicle is hit by a truck. And in what can only be described as soap opera-level tomfoolery, everyone thinks Rayna's going to be fine until she flatlines. All I have to say is that it’s a little obvious. It didn’t feel like good TV, outside of the sheer shock value.
What else seemed kind of lazy is that Rayna had already almost died in a really dramatic car accident when a drunk Deacon grabbed the wheel during a fight — proving for the millionth time that he’s an unshakable fuckup (and yet, she still marries him. Which is probably why she died. Honestly, the universe was like, “You failed the test, girl”). And that episode was a season-ending cliffhanger-level big deal. So, why do it again? Also, with this right after Juliette single-handedly survived a fucking plane crash, it seems the Nashville writers are on the good drugs, because these things don’t really happen.
When your show is based on a real town, a real industry, and loosely based on real people (also, for the hundredth time, Rayna is Shania Twain, not Faith Hill), one would think they would at least have events be plausible. But as much as I want to believe real-life Nashville mayor Megan Barry is a high-dollar madam, I guess Nashville doesn’t keep too close to real life — as evidenced by the show’s mayor, Teddy Conrad, getting extorted and then framed by a prostitute. Not to mention all of the hats people wear, the ease with which everyone makes it big, how much people fucking love the Blue Bird café, and the fact that no one has ever made fun of Scarlet’s accent. (Can you tell I live in Nashville?)
But enough on how it happened. Let’s talk about why it happened. It happened because Connie Britton is too much of a goddess to be told what to do. It’s rumored around town that she wasn’t pleased with the show continuing to be filmed in town and wanted the production to move to Los Angeles. Which isn’t to say that Britton hasn’t been amazingly supportive of Nashville, supporting local businesses, singing the city’s praises and campaigning for Barry. And it makes sense as an actress that she would have far more opportunities and flexibility if they filmed in LA. But on the other hand, there wouldn’t be a show without the town, so the fact that the show benefits the town is a plus.
The saga of keeping the show in production has actually been almost as dramatic as the show itself. The city and state controversially granted the show millions of dollars in tax incentives to continue to film on location — and since that came out of taxpayers' pockets, some even protested (which is a silly thing to protest; go home, you’re white). And it can’t be doubted the show has been good for the city, if you measure things like that in tourism and notoriety (but please stop moving her, you’re giving us traffic, and we hate the ugly condos developers are building absolutely everywhere for you). It’s also been dramatic because, last May, ABC infamously pulled the plug on Nashville at the last minute, leaving fans with a series finale they thought would be a season finale (in which you literally didn’t know if Juliette had died or not). But CMT picked up the show, giving it a triumphant return on a new night and network.
Sources close to Britton told Variety that her exit was planned from the beginning of the transition to CMT. Why she would want to leave a show with such a cult following is both a mystery and obvious. She’s probably tired of having to wear sequins. They were running out of interesting plot lines for her, outside of her fledgling label and Deacon’s dumb ass. Really, I think she was just above not being on a major network.
But no matter what the reason was, Connie Britton is gone, Rayna James is dead, and outside of checking out her funeral, there is literally no reason to watch the show anymore. I can tell you how it will end: Juliette glares herself into another dimension. Scarlet and Gunnar become the country music version of the Duggars. Will Lexington Clay Aikens and becomes a politician but stays attractive. Avery remains successful but low-key and continues to struggle with his hair/facial hair situation. And Maddie and Daphne become the Watson Twins, but for someone less indie than Jenny Lewis, like Kelly Clarkson or something.
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