Nashville opens with picture perfect aerial shots of Music City, a song about gee-tars and the power of dreams. Y’all, we are in the South!
Inside a modern mansion, two pre-teens and a dad kiss Connie Britton goodbye. It is quickly established that Mom’s not headed to Club Applebees for a Ladies Night Out–she is the bread winner in this family.
Pin curls and bathrobe give way to a lush mane and sequin jacket as mom has transformed into country superstar Rayna James. Connie Britton is at The Grand Ole Opry, singing something about independence, but I’m distracted by her fabulous highlights. I always thought Tami Taylor had professional stylists! She exits the stage and schmoozes with her long time writer and event honoree, Watty White. I wish they would have gone for broke and pulled out a Nudie suit but wardrobe showed restraint, as Watty’s jacket has flower embroidery but is a sober gray. Rayna catches up with her band leader Deacon’s niece. Scarlett is new in town, dreams of being a poet, idolizes Rayna and has a song writing beau, Avery. Role of wide eyed innocent and skeevy user boyfriend? Check!
Next we are introduced to Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) seated in a dressing room as a bunch of assistants attend to her. Young, pretty and apparently a BFD, she is very displeased that her mother has her phone number. Juliette spares her head lackey the full Naomi Campbell treatment. Too much movement might cause her dress, which is taking sequins to the next level, to disintegrate. A manager type gives Juliette a pep talk about being nice, as she fluffs her hair. Which is not anywhere near as fabulous as the presumed person she is supposed to be sucking up to.
Said person, legendary Rayna, continues to blow kisses to one and all before bumping into a gracious middle aged black couple. Bunny Colvin is running for mayor, y’all! Rayna agrees to sing during his official announcement and lets drop that her dear old dad doesn’t approve of her career.
While prowling around backstage Juliette does find someone to fawn over, Rayna’s band leader and guitarist Deacon Clayburne. She also literally bumps into his niece’s pretty boyfriend and gives him the once over. Juliette is the only person more styled than the wanna be songwriter, so maybe they will get together down the line. Either way they have established her man eater bona fides.
Rayna and Juliette meet and it is appropriately salty. The younger star throws shade about age and the older one gets in a dig about her bedazzled dress. Puzzled as to why the big wigs in the room arranged a meet and greet between the two, Rayna is brought up to speed. With her new record a failure, she can either tour with Juliette or not tour at all. Alone, a disgusted Rayna watches Juliette on TV singing about black mascara tears, thoroughly unimpressed.
Next stop, the steps of a government building as Rayna dashes inside. Powers Boothe is in his fourth decade of playing evil, and his turn as Rayna’s rich, power broker father continues the tradition. Late attending a ceremony in father’s honor, after a few choice word between the two, Rayna tells her sister she will decline anymore family invites.
Meanwhile Juliette is in the recording studio, laying down a different track about mascara, with the help of auto tune. A Producer Guy (I never did catch his name) basks in the come hither looks the starlet is throwing him, an older management type (the one who tried and failed to get Juliette to sheathe her claws at The Grand Ole Opry) is only interested in riding the money train that is country’s newest sensation.
You know who else enjoys ditties about wine and mascara? Rayna’s daughters. The real life sister act of Lennon and Maisy Stella are quickly shut down by their TV mom, who has Juliette on the mind and doesn’t need her coming through her car stereo as well. A conversation with her husband about the situation doesn’t bring any clarity as he is not dead set against Rayna touring with Juliette OR the possibility of being helped out by her father. Still searching for answers, Rayna finds her way to the home of Producer Guy. Even Connie Britton’s defeated hair belongs in the 1%. A grim Rayna tells him how she really feels about things and compares a certain someone’s music to the sounds of feral cats. Because this is a soap opera, Juliette is in the bedroom listening, wrapped in a sheet while narrowing her eyes. This tour should be a blast!
Deacon Clayburne, band leader and crush of Juliette, is soulfully strumming at The Bluebird Cafe, where his niece works. Mega star Juliette is apparently rendered invisible by a magical fedora and watches from the audience mesmerized. Deacon doesn’t have a lot of faith in his niece’s shady songwriter boyfriend, who tries to push a demo on him. So the caring Uncle asks another dark haired young guy, Gunnar, to keep an eye out for Scarlett. Love triangle? Check!
Juliette propositions Deacon to join her um band. His surprise is completely at odds with reality. Handsome, successful musicians are not puzzled when women hit on them. But we are not watching a documentary and the more screen time for Chip Esten the better.
In the next scene, Powers Boothe looks like he dipped into his Deadwood wardrobe but I guess his old timey clothes are just another gentle reminder that we are in the south, y’all! Anyway, he and his right hand daughter decide that it serves their best interests to get Rayna’s unemployed husband to become Mayor. Hey less glamorous red headed sister, so much for not inviting Rayna to anymore BS family functions!
All the pressure of to tour or not tour has Rayna pitching a hissy fit during a rehearsal. However, she’s been brought up right, apologizes to her crew and asked Deacon to accompany her on a walk of exposition. Their working relationship is shadowed by a past romance and Rayna doesn’t take to kindly to Juliette’s play for her bandleader. This is an outdoor scene complete with soft wind and low sunlight so excuse me if I missed anything, Rayna’s highlights glamoured me! Luckily the next scene is in doors. Furthering the new vs old country line, Watty (still no Nudie suit in sight) tells her he believes Juliette’s career has longevity and we learn that Rayna’s mother died when she was 12.
Juliette’s mother, who I’m not sure looks more like a Breaking Bad or Walking Dead extra, is alive. But not for long, if she doesn’t parlay her daughter’s fame into a stint in Celebrity Rehab. Poor little girl lost denies her mother’s pleas for money, hangs up (her assistant really should be fired) and proceeds to
devour kiss Producer Guy.
It feels as if Oliver Stone suddenly grabs the wheel with multiple camera angles and weird close ups as Teddy, Rayna’s husband, is wined and dined by her father and sister into thinking running for Mayor would be a good idea. Teddy might be a royal screw up but he has integrity and insists he will only run if Powers and dutiful daughter do not smear the Bunny Colvin’s good name. Insert whichever version of The Scorpion and The Frog you prefer.
Teddy wastes no time in telling Rayna about
her Daddy’s his plans. The gloves come off in the family kitchen, a fabulous room that threatens to upstage the actors. Accusations about being second best while still supporting her career seem to take the wind out of Rayna’s righteous sails.
The Bluebird Cafe set gives us some more time with Scarlett and her would be protector. Kindred spirits bonding over a love of poetry. Classic example of an audience being completely baffled by a character’s “true love” with a jerk when a kind, supportive and cute guy is waiting in the wings.
Sweet is followed by spice, as Rayna awaits her showdown with a record exec in a big, gleaming tower of capitalism. The writing is on the wall, in the form of a life sized poster of Juliette Barnes in the lobby. The meeting goes down hill from there and Rayna James storms out of the negotiations, telling the head of the label to kiss her grits.
Feeling combative, Rayna’s next stop is a formal mansion (as opposed to her own warm, feel good one) that belongs to her family. Even a truly splendid tablescape doesn’t detract from all the scenery chewing, as father and daughter go toe to toe. Powers shouts she owes him her career and goes for the jugular when he implies that one of his granddaughters might not be Teddy’s. The hysterics Connie Britton had to employ during her American Horror run are already coming in handy. Dutiful daughter escorts her star sister off the premises, with Daddy Dearest snarling his enemies don’t fare well. Family, gotta love ’em!
Scarlett and Gunnar stop working at the Bluebird Cafe long enough to sing a soulful duet over a closing montage.
Juliette shuts her door on Producer Guy’s face. Deacon has taken her up on her offer and straddling him, they get down to business.
Dressed in a Nancy Regan red dress, complete with pearls and up do, Rayna is power walking through a hotel kitchen. She stops to take a phone call from Watty. He’s at the Cafe and thinks he’s found the next big thing while listening to our star crossed duo.
The good wife arrives at the end of Teddy’s announcement and plants a kiss on the candidate’s cheek. Lamar and Tandy (I finally looked up their names!) aka Powers and Dutiful Daughter are all smiles as Rayna does a pageant wave to the crowd.
If you have gotten this far, you are either related to me or have strong feelings about this show.
Believe it or not, I still have plenty to say about Nashville. Please leave us your thoughts in the comments.