Nashville is the show that cannot die — even though [SPOILER ALERT] one of its most beloved and central characters definitely did toward the midseason finale of Season 5. I cried, my mom cried, we all cried as Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) surprisingly flat lined after a whole drawn-out episode that made it seem as though she was going to recover from a car crash. But Nashville fanatics should have seen her melodramatic fate coming because Rayna had already survived a life-threatening car crash. It’s kind of genius to tease that it might happen a second time only to remind us of the cruel power of the television Gods to giveth and to taketh away.
Surprisingly, though, Nashville isn’t going anywhere. The show teetered on peril for many months after its original network, ABC, pulled the plug, only to be rescued by CMT. The move made sense. It is a show about country music’s capital after all, but it did also feel like a step down, and many speculated that Britton left the show for that reason (which she denied). The real reason Britton left is likely because her star is rising, and she wants to do more film — to which I say, “Bye, Rayna. Give me big-screen Britton, please.” The show saving probably its biggest ratings moment ever for the network switch also feels like a very pointed fuck you to ABC for forsaking them, and that is savage and amazing AF.
But many thought that this season would be the actual end. CMT had given Nashville the chance to wrap up some frustratingly loose ends — ABC pulled the plug before we’d even found out if Juliette was dead or not, for Goddess’ sake! And with Rayna’s death, it would seem like a natural progression to have the show return this summer for the balance of the Britton-less series, let everyone find their place without Rayna (which would mean most of them would become drunk pieces of fuzz that live under beds) and find some weird way to put a bow on the whole big, soapy, Southern mess. But as Variety reported, despite the show’s CMT ratings being a far cry from its broadcast days, they’re still the highest ratings of any CMT show in history.
For that reason, the show will be returning to CMT for its sixth season in 2018, and we can only imagine that Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) will be at the helm as HBIC and #TheNewRayna. And honestly, it sounds kind of like it’s going to be the biggest, most sequined shit-show ever without Rayna’s centering charm. And I’m actually so here for that.