Nashville was on my short list of most anticipated TV dramas in this fall TV season. I mean it had everything I could want: Connie Britton, Connie Britton’s hair, Connie Britton singing, Connie Britton saying y’all, Connie Britton saying sassy things, and more of Connie Britton’s hair. Nashville is really a story about a mass of red hair just trying to make it in the world of up-and-coming autotuned ingenues.
The show opens with Eli Young Band’s ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’ (I Shazamed it) playing so we know this is a real country show while panning over the city of Nashville before settling in on the home of Rayna James (Britton). We see her getting ready for what I assume is a concert and know that she has two daughters and a husband. Cut to a stage, where not even two minutes in, and we see a Country Strong fist punch the air and our first “Y’all” was said. The song that she was singing had actually been one of the promo songs and had been stuck in my head for some time leading up to watching the actual show so it was nice to see it in action. We also get to see her lead guitarist who I can guarantee will play a big part in either Rayna’s makin’ it or her downfall and then phoenix-like rise from the ashes.
The worst part about the pilot is all the character introductions and making them seem normal. We meet Watty White (some old guy), Scarlett (some young girl/poetess/secret ingenue), Scarlett’s boyfriend Avery Barkley (some young guy/songwriter), and we learn Rayna’s lead guitarist’s name is Deacon. I feel like the writers went to the store and bought a book called So You Want Your Baby To Be A Country Star: A Name Book when naming all the characters.
Not to be upstaged, but clearly not as important as Rayna/Connie, we finally get to meet Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). She’s sitting on her couch surrounded by her ‘team’, piles of her memoir, new CDs, and testing out her perfume bottles spray when her phone rings. It’s her mother and she clearly isn’t happy about this. We can hear her mother asking her for $50 and Juliette pretends she can’t hear her, hangs up, and then throws her phone in the trash. She berates her assistant and tells her to change her number.
Juliette and Rayna are set to meet before Juliette goes on stage as part of an ambush on Rayna by the record company. The company wants Rayna to co-headline (which secretly means open for) a concert tour with Juliette Barnes. Rayna’s tour is not selling like it used to sell and she’s facing some trouble.
Juliette takes the stage and is very Taylor Swiftian. She has all the young girls in the audience eating out of her hands while in her dressing room Rayna James is watching her on the monitor and saying, “Ugh.”
Just when we all thought that this show was going to be only a diva-off between Rayna and Juliette in slips a little political storyline. We get to meet Rayna’s father Lamar, played by Powers Booth, as some political heavyweight getting a day declared to him as well as her sister Tandy. Tandy, it seems, is the “poised and driven daughter and protégé of Lamar Wyatt.” (at least according to wikipedia). We also quickly realize that Rayna and her father do not get along, probably because he’s jealous of Connie’s hair.
Juliette is singing about mascara again in the studio and one of the producers sitting there says, “Thank God for auto-tune.” I don’t really care, because at this point I have restarted this song multiple times and am on the verge of downloading it.
My favorite scene from the pilot has to be the few second car ride with Rayna and her daughters. The two girls are sitting in the back seat harmonizing Juliette’s single about being drunk on wine and like any responsible parent with a vendetta she shuts the radio off and tell the kids she has a headache. An EMMY worthy headache, y’all!
Still recovering from her headache, Rayna sits contemplating her face in the mirror while she and her husband, Teddy, discuss what she is going to do with her tour. Teddy suggests borrowing money from her daddy, but Rayna would rather wait tables. She doesn’t want to turn into her sister. We also glean from this conversation that her husband is not making any money, but may have some “deals” in the works.
Rayna heads on over to Randy’s (her producer) house to talk about recording some songs he mentioned to her awhile ago. She’s a little late on this cause of course they have been recorded. This is setting up some awesome foreshadowing I am sure. He tells her that he is busy recording Juliette’s new album and Rayna goes off on Juliette saying that she sounds like feral cats. The camera pans up to Randy’s bedroom where Juliette is naked. OH DAMN! He’s really producing.
Up next is a country jam sesh at The Bluebird Cafe. I wonder if this spot is like the Peach Pit? Who will be the Nat? Deacon is playing, Scarlett is waitressing, and Juliette is sitting in the audience wearing a big hat. Scarlett’s boyfriend talks to Deacon after the jam sesh and asks if he’s listened to his demo, some alt cerebral country punk stuff. Deacon dismisses him and will likely never listen to it. Another character is introduced, Gunnar, and this time Deacon has listened to his demo and surprise Gunnar likes Scarlett. Oooh, love triangles all up in Nashville. Outside while Deacon is packing up his car, Juliette ambushes him with a request to cover the song he just sang and to be the bandleader on her tour. She basically throws her country pop pussy at him.
Back to the political storyline. Lamar and Tandy and a bunch of other guys in suits are talking about a major league baseball stadium in Nashville and know that Coleman Carlisle, a mayoral candidate and Rayna’s friend, won’t go for it. They suggest alternative mayoral candidates and (of course) Teddy’s name comes up. Tandy says Rayna will lose it and Lamar cackles.
Rayna has a diva dip while at rehearsals for her tour and then she and Deacon go out for a walk. Here’s where we find out for sure that there is some unrequited love thing going on between them, mostly on Deacon’s part. I am going to suggest that Rayna’s older daughter is actually Deacon’s daughter and this will be revealed in a shocking sweeps episode. Rayna mentions she want to go to Tootsie’s and I’ve been told “no self respecting local, much less ‘respected musician’ goes to tootsies at 11am or EVER”. I love getting the inside scoop, y’all.
Watty White has Rayna on his radio show for some girl talk and he tells her that Juliette is in it for the long haul and her ass better get used to it (I’m paraphrasing). While they are recounting fave songs Juliette is over in the closet at the recording studio talk to her methed-out mama who just needs $50 bucks still. Her mama has some Breaking Bad level makeup going on right there too.
Lamar invites Teddy for a lunch date to tell him he is going to run for mayor, but is a much more subtle way so it seems like Teddy was meant to do this on his own and is not going to be Lamar’s pawn (which is of course what he will be). Teddy tells Rayna and she doesn’t like this idea, but is put in a hard place when he husband tells her he needs to step into the limelight for a little bit.
Meanwhile, at The Bluebird Cafe, Gunnar is reading Scarlett’s poems and there’s some shameless flirting over songwriting.
Rayna finally has her meeting at the record label to discuss the co-headlining tour with Juliette. The commercials, trailers, preview clips all showed this scene, but seeing it in context was just perfect. Did you see Connie Britton’s hair bounce as she walked away? That is some EMMY worthy hair right there.
After leaving the record label, Rayna is over at her father’s mansion where they are arguing about Teddy and money and Lamar lets a few secrets out for the audience to bask in. He suggests that he paid for Rayna’s first album and basically helped start/create her career. He also says that Maddie (her older daughter) was probably not Teddy’s, but that Teddy just accepted that and treated her like his own daughter. Scandal!
Gunnar pulls Scarlett up on stage to sing the song they are working on (my favorite from the pilot) and this plays throughout the last few minutes of the pilot. Teddy is giving his speech announcing his candidacy for Mayor, Coleman is preparing for his speech and gets notice that Rayna won’t be coming to sing at his announcement, Juliette has succeeded in seducing Deacon, Rayna gets a call from Watty who is listening to Scarlett and Gunnar sing and tells her that he has an idea then Rayna goes out and stands by her man just like Tammy Wynette.