Arguments Are Not Personalities

November 1, 2012 18:20:14 Posted at November 1, 2012 18:20:14
Duana Posted by Duana
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Nashville Season 1 Episode 4 recap

I have an announcement for some of you out there who may be confused: there are many character traits that can make up a complicated, three-dimensional woman. Many. I’m not going to insult you by listing them all. The most interesting are those who are layered, who have more than one aspect to their personalities, who battle internal conflicts between who they are and who they want to be, between where they’ve come from and where they’re heading.

Being fought over by two men is a situation, at best; it is not a personality. Wandering around between two men that you find intriguing and taking what you can from both of them while maintaining some sense of “propriety” is not living your life. Hearing “you dazzle me” and then nodding is not participating in a relationship.

Here’s the truth we’re all dancing around: Connie Britton is beautiful. She is believable as a country star, no matter what you say about her voice. Her face (and inexplicably, that hair) is so evocative and empathetic that we feel like we can see inside her soul. When she cried at the end of the episode, I wanted to cry too, for no good goddamned reason. She seems like she should be intriguing enough that being caught between two men could really examine two different parts of her personality, and we’d see why she’d want parts of both. But here’s the thing…it isn’t.  

It’s not interesting. She’s not doing anything interesting at all, actually, except being pretty and pretending that she doesn’t do everything her father wants, even though she does. Note for example how disappointed she is initially when Deacon has no problem performing at the country club. This, at least, speaks to how messed up Rayna might be, if we could see inside her personality. No matter how much she screeches at him when he confronts Lamar and Teddy, she is delighted by it. If Deacon is still the bad boy railing against her daddy and her family then she still has him where she wants him. They’re bad against daddy together. If he behaves like an adult, the way he was until she goaded him into it, then she’s not a bad girl and she doesn’t have a partner in crime, and then what does she have, exactly?

What is it about Rayna that Deacon loves so much? Not just who is she now – I’d settle for who was she then? What were they like? What kind of trouble did they get up to? Who is Ranya James? Is she a boy lover? One of those women who can see nothing but the man she’s with when she’s with him, and finds it in her to appreciate a whole lot of them? Is she a sex addict?  Knows she shouldn’t, but just can’t help herself? Is that what we were supposed to infer from her dream? Is she a brazen careerist who’s trying everything she can to get to the top? On the one hand maybe, because we haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary of everything I’m saying about her, but on the other hand, hell no, because she’s barely mentioned her flailing career in two episodes. I don’t know what she sees in Teddy either, since she seems to love him out of obligation and basically holds herself back from rolling her eyes when he touches her. (Also, if Deacon’s sleeping with Juliette and Teddy’s sleeping with Kimberly Williams-Paisley then who’s actually with Rayna? Nobody, right?)

Who is Rayna James? What does she really want? We get to see her sass around with her daughters, but what’s keeping her in this role of political wife she swears up and down she doesn’t care about? For that matter, what’s her star power? The women at the country club are happy to see her, but she might be a local TV anchor the way they react, not a megawatt star. I love Connie Britton a lot, and like many, I love Tami Taylor even more, but you can’t just put her on TV and hope that swinging her hair around in nice dresses will in itself convince us that she’s a star. Britton is. Taylor is. Rayna? Not yet. You have to prove it to me.

You also can’t tell me she “worked so hard to maintain her standing” when she’s barely doing anything to benefit her career. This is only one of many lies told during the Juliette storyline, but it’s one that bugs a bit. I don’t doubt that Rayna was all kinds of things Juliette is not – “nice to people” and “in possession of manners” are two that come to mind – but let’s not kid ourselves here that the theft of a nail polish would derail Juliette’s career to the degree that it is.  

It’s actually a continual truth and surprise that Juliette’s story is the most interesting on the show  - arguably because something HAPPENS from time to time – and Hayden continues to be mostly good even when she’s being whiny, and I didn’t mind at all that she spent the episode without any makeup on but there are still some pretty significant falsehoods told in support of a story that wasn’t that good to begin with.

Okay, let’s see. If Juliette was as uncooperative as she is, overall, she would never have had a recording career. In the beginning stages, girls who can sing are a dime a dozen, even cute ones, and the ones who say yes the most are the ones who go forward – especially when, like Juliette, they aren’t also songwriters. But fine, let’s say they did make a star out of her anyway.    We’re getting all this stuff about how she has an image to maintain and she hid her past too long to hide it now, but um – you guys?  “You left your secrets in my bed, in my bed.”  She’s not a sweet innocent, is she? I’m not even talking about who she’s with in her life. I’m talking about the musical image she puts out there. You know, the song Rayna’s young daughters sang that everyone clapped along to?

To be clear here – stealing is bad, sex is not, if you’re old enough to consent and etc. But conservative media-consumers vilify the second way, WAY more than the first, especially if the label put out an apology/denial which they would do regardless of what Juliette said, because that is their money and their investment and you know who’s going to make the most money on that tour? The record company. Even walking off the GMA interview would be spun by any professionals worth their salt as a bout of food poisoning combined with “exhaustion”. I mean come on now. You’re telling me otherwise manslingin’ Juliette Barnes is a great example for fans?

Whew. Sorry. I didn’t know that-all was coming.

Having said that, I am buying the stuff with the mom against my will, because they kind of look alike and because I love that moment of “I hate everything you stand for and wear and cook but also gimme that food.” I do think it’s a problem that Juliette’s petulant brat is the most relatable person on the show.

And remember what I said earlier, about how having two guys interested in you is not a personality? That goes double for you, Scarlett, if one of the guys is a douche and the other one is not actually all that interested. I got all this mail from a bunch of you last week all “Oh, Avery is nice maybe”. Are you kidding me with this? Yes, I hated every word she said about writing too, but don’t tell me anymore, after that scene of him ripping her down in public, that he is anything other than a tiny-dicked loser who is jealous and not big enough to hide it. This is textbook bad-boyfriend, and I’m not any happier about it than you are, but let’s be honest about what we’re seeing here.

Thank God they reminded us that Scarlett is Deacon’s niece, or I would have forgotten. As it was, I had to rewind back to remind myself there was actually another beat in the Scarlett story.   But it’s barely a beat, and all he says to her is “yeah, sucks either way”. So the “story” is that Avery is a dick to her at the 24-minute mark, and then we wait for a full half-hour before she says he should be nice to her and he says he’ll think about it. Pouty, trembly lip and all. Why do I care about this person?  

Meanwhile Hailey the Show’s Sole Brunette is all sexy for Gunnar who’s getting more yokel-ified by the week, so are we sure?, but I did like how quickly she downshifts into not worrying about Scarlett, indeed, being nice to her – once she realizes she’s not a threat. You know what, though?  I shouldn’t like the new character who gets four minutes of screentime the best out of everyone.  Oh, and so that we’re clear? “You’re just like a dude” is not a compliment. Quit putting it on TV and quit making it something to aspire to. It’s not.

Who is going on which tours? What-all secrets is Teddy keeping? Why do we care about him if he’s impotent and a puppet and sleeping with his old girlfriend? When is Rayna gonna DO something? Why can’t she jump Deacon already or anyone for that matter? How convenient is it that Deacon’s sponsor is that other Mayor guy? Why do I care if Scarlett’s crappy boyfriend breaks up with her? I’m only worried if I have to watch him pout for sixteen more hours this winter.

I don’t mind if this is a big ol’ over-the-top soap. That’s kind of what I was expecting and not everything has to be FNL all the time. But the definition of soaps is that they are dramatic because stuff HAPPENS. People make bad choices and mistakes and there is drama to be sorted out. I need desperately to have an opinion on some of these people. The worst thing your leading woman can be is what Rayna is: Neutral. Even – dare I say it – boring.

I mean, all this fuss over a nail polish. Please.

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