I’ll admit when I first saw the promos for Nashville I was undecided about whether I’d give it a go. My interest in country music is close to nil – I can listen to a Shania Twain or Garth Brooks classic here and there, but I’m by now means ready to put on my boots and go line dancing, yet still I was intrigued.
I love (love – love) Connie Britton – loved her on Friday Night Lights – loved her on American Horror Story. Then there’s the lovely little Hayden Panettiere that was a mainstay of one of my face sci-fi shows Heroes. Based on those two alone, I had to give Nashville a try.
I couldn’t wait for Wednesday’s premiere, so I caught a sneak peek on Hulu and fell in love with Nashville – the city, the singers, the sequins and boots! So here’s what happened in the pilot episode of Nashville. Spoiler alert!
From the previews, Britton’s character reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow’s washed up songstress and ultimate suicide in Country Strong and Hayden seemed to be channeling Britney with a country twang.
Britton as Rayna James sings to a rousing crowd at the Grand Ole Opry. Offstage, she’s introduced to Scarlett and Avery by her lead guitarist Deacon – a budding poet and aspiring songwriter both working at Nashville’s famous Blue Bird Café. The café was made famous on film in one of River Phoenix’s last movies The Thing Called Love which also featured a then-unknown little lady named Sandra Bullock – but I digress…
Meanwhile backstage is Hayden’s Juliette Barnes. From the get-go we see that she’s no rocket scientist. Her assistant tells her the perfume company’s waiting for her approval on the bottle design for her signature fragrance. Instead of considering the containers, she squirts her wrists and sniffs – wants to know “What the hell is wrong with those people?” because her perfume smells like nothing.
Her assistant barely contains an eye roll and spoon feeds her a reminder that she’s to look at the bottles only – they’re filled with water just for looks. Juliette says she can’t pick a bottle without smelling the perfume in it. Right…
Juliette’s cell rings and it’s her Mom. She fakes a bad signal, hangs up and demands of her assistant how her mom got her number – I’m sensing family tension there. Her help is clueless because she just got her a new number. Juliette bashes the pink bedazzled phone to bits and demands “change it again!” Is she a spoiled little brat or is it something worse? Shades of Dina Lohan perhaps?
Glenn – a record company rep – takes Juliette to meet Rayna and asks her to be nice and kiss the ring. Juliette wants to know “and this benefits me how?” Guess she’s not a fan of the older crooner!
Meanwhile Rayyna’s hugging it out with Coleman Carlisle – Nashville’s mayoral candidate and he asks her to perform at his announcement.
Juliette stops on her way to gush over Deacon Claybourne telling him “she loves him so much” – she wants him in her band – but – big but – he’s Rayna’s lead guitarist. I sense conflict coming. Then she bumps into aspiring songwriter Avery – literally – when he apologizes she tells him flirtatiously it’s alright and that “you should try that again sometime – only slower.”
Rayna walks in on the record label execs and they look worried but refuse to tell her what’s up. Glenn brings Juliette in and says she’s a big fan of Rayna’s. She blows off Rayna and cozies up to the record execs instead.
From the previews you’ve seen the killer line – Juliette tells Rayna her mom was a big fan and “would listen to you while I was still in her belly.” Translation – you’re old – I’m young and hot – screw you. Rayna tells Juliette she should go get ready so she has time to “make sure those girls are tucked in there real good” – the ingénue has her clams on the beach in a skintight number…
Rayna asks the execs “what the hell was that?” Then the execs deliver the bad news – they tell her the concert tickets for her new show are not selling well. She’s upset, but they told her she brought it on herself for not taking the new hipper songs they brought her to record.
Then they deliver the death blow – they want her to combine tours with Juliette – “co-headline” they call it – but she would actually be Juliette’s opening act. Rayna wants to know if “there’s a turnip truck that just came by here that you think I just fell off of?”
She’s livid but they’re unmoved. They tell her it’s that or cancel the tour. They try in vain to convince her and she’s angry and humiliated. She wants to know what genius thought of this and they tell her Marshall Evans – the new head of the label – that doesn’t bode well for Rayna and they give her a few short days to decide.
Juliette sings to a wildly excited crowd that knows every word to her song. Rayna watches on a monitor in her dressing room, groans and clicks off the monitor. Neither seems to be a fan of the other – that’ll end well…
The still charismatic Powers Boothe plays Rayna’s dad Lamar Wyatt – one of the rich and powerful of Nashville. Rayna’s shows up late to the Governor declaring it Lamar Wyatt Day. Rayna and her daddy seem to be at odds. Tandy Wyatt is Rayna’s sister and their daddy’s girl Friday who’s trying to keep the peace.
Juliette’s in the studio recording to a less than impressed producer and handler Glenn who says “Thank Producer Randy calls her a “heartbreaker” and the exec says “money maker.” He’s looking at her like she’s a biscuit on a plate.
Rayna’s in the car with her little girls (look to be about 10 and 7) who crank up the radio when a Juliette song comes on – the girls sing along – the lyrics are about drinking, sleeping around and waking up in places unknown with runny mascara. Rayna’s appalled and snaps the radio off explaining “Mama’s got a headache.”
Back at her crib, Rayna’s staring at lines in the mirror and hubby Eric reassures her but says “you’re beautiful – if you ever get a facelift, I’ll leave you.” She tells him about having to open for Juliette or cancel the tour – he tells her to quit and it devolves into a fight about money.
Teddy reveals he’s gone bust but says he’s got deals in the works and encourages her to borrow money from her Dad. She gets volatile but he presses on and tells her that her sister will end up with all of his money and power when he dies and that she should get over the hard feelings and get in line for the money.
Rayna shows up unexpectedly to producer Randy’s place – he’s been producing for both ladies unbeknownst to Rayna. She asks him for the three songs he mentioned, but he tells her they’re gone and that “good songs don’t sit.” Hmm… Wonder who got those three great songs?
Randy tells her he can’t find her any songs for her because he’s got to finish up Juliette’s new album. Rayna scoffs and says Juliette’s music “sounds like feral cats to me – why does everybody keep pretending she’s good?” Cut to Randy’s bedroom out of sight and guess who’s snuggled in his sheets looking none too pleased with the diss about her music?
Deacon’s singing at the Blue Bird café and he’s damned good. Casting for this show had to be a killer undertaking. Amazing voices all around!
Avery hits up Deacon about handing around his weird punk country hybrid and is sidestepped. Introducing Gunnar – another aspiring songwriter, Blue Bird employee and uber-cutie who reveals he’s got the hots for Scarlett. Deacon says she’s got the family curse to “always pick the one that’ll break your heart.” Wonder who broke his heart?
Outside of the café, Juliette’s waiting on Deacon. She tells him she wants to record his song and wants him to play on the record. She asks him to take over as her band leader. He says he can’t leave Rayna and she offers to double his pay. Then she sweetens the offer – she offers to let him write with her and promises they could “have a lot of fun together on the road.”
Juliette’s parting shot is “Rayna’s not the only woman in the world.” Deacons hands back “you’re a girl” but he doesn’t look disinterested… “What the hell was that” he muses.
Back to Rayna’s daddy – he’s meeting with local businessmen about getting a baseball team into Nashville and they decide mayoral candidate Coleman will mess the deal up and they need a new guy. Lamar wants to give the slot to Rayna’s hubby Teddy – but knows Rayna will fight it.
Rayna’s at rehearsal for the doomed tour and throws a diva fit over a microphone – she destroys a $1200 microphone and goes crazy over the wardrobe. Her handler reminds her she’s supposed to sing at the mayoral candidate announcement event.
Rayna and Deacon take a walk and she laments her aging and the industry rejection. Their conversation reveals they were once an item. Deacon tells her about Juliette’s offer as bandleader and lead guitar. Rayna wants to know if Juliette’s coming for her house next.
When Deacon reveals Juliette said he could co-write, she knows she’s lost him. They admit if they had it to do over again, they might have made it work out together. She invites him out for a drink and he turns her down. She wants him to be happy, but Deacon tells her she’s the only thing that would make him happy and that passed long ago.
Looks like Rayna’s not the good girl we thought. With her diva antics and secret love affair, her character is fleshing out nicely. She’s not a snow white heroine so she’s more relatable and likeable (and dislikeable) already!
Rayna’s doing a radio show with legendary country producer and songwriter Watty White and off-air asks if he thinks Juliette’s a flash in the pan but he says no “she’ll be around for a while.”
At the recording studio, Juliette can’t be found and she’s hiding in a supply closet crying on the phone with her junkie mother who’s begging for money and promising she’s clean – she’s quite obviously not. Producer Randy finds her in the closet and she pulls him in to console her with some throw-away sex.
Rayna’s Daddy Lamar makes Teddy the mayoral offer. He tells Teddy not to let his failures define him “but refine him.” Lamar tells Teddy he believes in him – Teddy’s quite obviously in dire need of someone believing in him since Rayna doesn’t. Teddy makes Lamar promise to run a clean campaign against Coleman and the business man promises – butter wouldn’t melt in that man’s mouth.
Tandy’s concerned with Rayna’s reaction and Lamar tells Teddy he’s got to be the one to tell his wife. Rayna doesn’t want him to get in bed with her Daddy. She’s angry and asks him does he just want to stand on the side of the stage for him – he reminds her he’s been doing it for years.
He also reminds her he knows she settled for him… He demands she lets him step into the limelight for a change. Rayna reluctantly agrees to support Teddy and has to tell Coleman (Cole) she can’t perform at his announcement.
Gunnar’s reading Scarlett’s poetry and tells her they’re songs. She reveals she was inspired by her many break-ups with Avery. He tells her she needs to put them to music and he grabs a guitar and they go to work.
At the record label’s skyscraping offices Rayna meets the new boss Marshall. She reminds him she’s been at the label for two decades and built the company. Marshall basically tells her past is past and her old accolades don’t impress him. They tell her point blank that she needs to find her place in a new market.
She ask if she doesn’t open for Juliette “who wouldn’t make it as one of my backup singers” if they’ll still promote her record. They say no and they need a decision. Rayna’s line of the night is thrown out “you can kiss my decision as it’s walking out the door” and out she goes.
My theory on the music biz is that for most people, you start out as an opening act and you end up as an opening act… Rayna’s just not ready to learn that lesson (yet).
Rayna and Daddy Lamar have a confrontation about Teddy’s mayoral run. Tandy tries to make peace yet again and Rayna shuts her down. Rayna seems to think she’s earned her own way without daddy’s money, but he cuts her ego to shreds and lets her know the only reason she had a career is because he paid for it without her knowledge.
Lamar tells Rayna she needs to show up for her husband with bells on because Teddy’s done a lot for her. Then he drops the blackmail bombshell that if she doesn’t turn up, he’ll tell Teddy about little Maddie… The confrontation ends in screaming and she says she won’t be there.
So I wonder does Deacon know about Maddie? I assume he’s the mystery candidate for fatherhood… Rayna sits in her car alone in the rain.
Back at the Blue Bird Café, Gunnar drags Scarlett up on stage to sing her poem they worked on together. The two sing like they were made to make music together. Watty comes into the café and catches the performance.
Meanwhile in the rain across town Randy shows up unannounced at Juliette’s place. She tells him “don’t come here without calling” and shuts the door in his face. She heads back to the sofa and resumes making out with Deacon!!!!
The crowd is mesmerized by the sweet song, Scarlett’s voice – everything!
Switch to Teddy’s mayoral announcement and guess who’s there with pearls on looking the perfect political wife? Guess she decided she wasn’t ready for her hubby to find out he’s not a baby daddy to at least one of their kids.
Rayna calls Watty and he holds up the cell phone so she can hear the song that’s floored the crowd at the Blue Bird Café. He tells her “I’ve got an idea.” Rayna walks out on stage to be with candidate Teddy to a roaring crowd.
And that’s the end of the series premiere of Nashville! I like the characters, the music was good and more cross-over than old-school country so it should have wide appeal. I’m eager to see the two lady crooners go head to head.