Nashville Season 1 Episode 1 recap
“If you ever get a facelift, I’m gonna leave you…just kidding.” This is something Rayna’s husband says to her, and man, there’s no line that encapsulates more what this show threatens over our heads, no?
I am less delighted than I am relieved. Plenty delighted, that is, but still more relieved.
Do you know what a big undertaking this was? To create a world (the Nashville Music Scene, which is virtually unknown on the TV scene); to show us all these intersecting families, professional and otherwise; to introduce not just the two female stars, Rayna and Juliette, but all the men and women whose lives are centered around their careers -- it could so easily have gone wrong, been boring, been bland. But it was engaging and compelling and there are at least a couple of songs I’ve been singing since I watched it – even one by the dreaded Juliette.
So let’s start with the songs. Can you watch the show if you don’t like country? Of course you can. I’m not going to join the chorus of comparisons to Friday Night Lights, but you didn’t think you were a football fan either now did you? Besides, country music is so straightforward in its pain, there’s no way you can’t relate.
And Lord there is pain. Let’s see, just in the very beginning here, Rayna’s husband isn’t her equal, her Daddy wants her to show up to things when it’s convenient for him, but obviously doesn’t support her career and thinks it’s all due to him. Oh, and he’s implied one of her daughter’s daddies is not the same as the other. She’s about to be dumped for a younger star if she doesn’t suck it up and say that Juliette’s the greatest thing going and she’s happy to support her. She might lose her band leader Deacon too.
Oh, but she might lose Deacon anyway – Deacon whose songs are all about Rayna, Deacon who can’t help mentioning that Rayna’s “a great overnight”, Deacon who didn’t take long at all to wind up in Juliette’s clutches rather literally. I wanted to like him because he’s Rayna’s confidante, and probably her real love, but how could I when he’s so easily swayed? Especially when he’s spitting lines about how the one thing that’s going to make him happy was gone a long time ago? How can he say garbage like that with one side of his mouth and kiss Juliette with the other?
I don’t want to tar all these men on the show with the same brush, but damn, there are many of them, aren’t there? Deacon, Teddy the husband, Randy the songwriter, Wyatt the producer, Lamar the father, Bucky the tour manager – not to mention Gunnar over at the café and Avery, boyfriend of Scarlett. Yes, I did have to google all those names. I know they’ll come clearer, but on a show like this where everyone wears a button-down shirt and has the same haircut, it’s hard to distinguish exactly who’s who to whom…
I have to confess that though that song at the end was absolutely haunting, I thought Scarlett’s wide-eyed eagerness was kind of over-the-top but I thought that when I read the script, too, so maybe it will be tempered in future episodes especially since she clearly has some stories of her own.
And then we come to our two leading ladies...
Dudes, there is no love lost between Hayden P and me, but boy-damn is she good at being the overdone spoilt bitch who knows exactly what she’s doing and feels entitled to all of it. I really liked her in the smaller moments, not just when she’s cutting down Rayna in the scenes you’d expect, but when she’s talking to her assistant like she doesn’t understand why she’s the only one who can talk sense. “I can’t pick the bottle if I don’t know what it smells like.” Juliette really thinks she’s the smartest, the best, the most talented (that line about autotune was there from the script, but she really didn’t sound like she needed it, did she?). You can’t be successful if you don’t believe you should be, so I kind of…couldn’t get mad at her, beyond her being an obnoxious twit.
Also, I don’t have a huge understanding of country music repertoire or it stars, but when we’re talking about “thank God for autotune” and “biggest crossover artist in years” and “you’re just a girl [pretending to be a woman]” and “what she’s doing isn’t really country”….you tell me, y’all, am I supposed to be thinking of someone else, other than the person I so obviously am thinking about? Another blonde girl whose teardrops are on her guitar?
Then there’s our girl Connie Britton. Let’s be clear that despite some southern-girl clothes and hair – and a twang that is simultaneously the same and different – this is not Tami Taylor we’re watching. She is, of course, as gorgeous, and that’s part of Rayna’s appeal – she is at once a star and the girl next door -- but this woman is bigger by far. She’s less polite, she has “diva dips”, she’s not above screaming at her father and she loses control. Rayna is a performer, yes, but she might not be a singer (Britton has said she’s been challenged by the musical aspects of the show but I don’t mind it as a character trait) and that doesn’t matter, does it? When you’ve sold out stadiums for years and won nine Grammys, you are an unmitigated success, right? So if you have edges that are less polished, or moments when you burst in on your songwriter, seeming a little desperate, well, those are understood. For those who are looking for Mrs. Coach, there’s not that level of control here. Rayna is louder and rougher and a little more full of herself. When she asks Watty, with a hair toss, whether Juliette’s just a flash in the pan, she’s willing him to say yes. When he doesn’t, she doesn’t catch her face falling as quickly as it should. Nor does she smile with the same delighted conviction as Tami Taylor did when she stepped out beside Coach.
It is a whole new world, my friends.