When I first saw ABC’s countrified soap Nashville, it filled this empty crevice of my heart. I mean, I never truly understood how badly I needed a guilty pleasure with everyone’s favorite wine-guzzling Friday Night Lights mom, Hayden Panetierre’s unmatched levels of sass and a genuinely listenable soundtrack. I found myself smiling wide after the first episode’s credits rolled, smug in the knowledge that regardless of class or obligations, I would not be leaving my apartment for a long, long time.
So, what the hell happened? Somehow, over the last two seasons, my beloved show has gone from a carefully constructed drama with complex, likable characters and heart-achingly pretty music to a watered-down, poorly written soap opera with no authentic or stimulating characters whatsoever. I have never gone from passion to distaste so abruptly, and I have to admit, it’s unnerving.
There are so many aspects of this show that have gone wrong that it’d be easier to list its strengths. But I’m a glass-half-empty kind of girl.
1. The music
I used to have a Pandora station for songs from this show because that is how good they were. This is what made this show stand apart from its musical counterparts like Glee: the music was original, and it was incredible. I don’t even remember the last song I heard on the show that I bothered to look up or the last song I heard on the show that I liked at all.
2. The characters
I’ll start with the obvious: How dare they destroy Juliette? Yes, postpartum depression is real, and yes, it can cause erratic behavior, but abandoning your newborn and flirting with drugs and suicide is so cliché it’s almost boring. Juliette had made so much progress as a character in the first few seasons that it made this plot line hurt all the more by cheapening her character and giving her no credit or progress to hang onto whatsoever. This was the beginning of the end for this show.
That’s not even getting into Maddie Conrad’s personality-makeover from hell, Deacon’s slip into near oblivion and the unnecessary introduction of numerous characters for whom I feel nothing whatsoever: Cash, Frankie, Riff, Vita, God, the list goes on.
3. The dialogue
Here is an excerpt from a recent episode:
Layla: Are you ready for that? (about dating)
Avery: Yeah. It was nice, connecting with someone so easily.
Am I being harsh? Perhaps, but yawn.
4. The over-the-top plot points
Jeff accidentally throwing himself off a building, is a big issue. Rayna entangling herself romantically with every single male act she ever signs is another. Not to mention Juliette going certifiably insane or Maddie deciding that she’s too good for her sister. All of these plot points could be touched on gently — covering the themes of growing up, flirtation, postpartum depression and heroism — without going so far.
There are so many things this show has done right, most notably the casting choice of Lennon and Maisy Stella, hiring songwriters and musicians to write the songs and making music the focal point of the show. Like its other fans, I am fervently hoping it will be renewed for season five — and clinging to the possibility that it will turn itself around. It just needs to stop trying so fervently to be something it’s not and return to the slow-paced, character-based country drama it once was.