Let’s start with something easy, shall we?
1. The Incredibly Attractive Cast!
Connie Britton. Charles Esten. Hayden Panettiere. Sam Palladio. Michiel Huisman. Clare Bowen. There is someone for EVERYONE on this show. Do you like your men young and lizard-like? Mosey on over to Eric Close. Old and lizard-like? Powers Boothe (porn name if there ever was one). Red-headed women? Connie Britton. Angelic nymph-fairies? Clare Bowen. They’re all perfect and perfectly-coiffed.
But there’s more than meets the eye to this crew…
2. Everyone Has Interesting Problems!
The three female leads- Rayna, Juliette, and Scarlett- are in completely different places in their respective careers and this gives the writers freedom to explore their shared struggles in different ways. All of them are struggling financially: Rayna is “cash poor” and has an album that just won’t sell, Juliette is regularly told that her identity as a bubblegum-country artist is tied directly to her financial success, and Scarlett is a waitress/songwriter who often struggles to meet ends meet. They all have to juggle their ambitions with their ability to pay the bills- no one’s a newspaper columnist with a closet full of Manolos (ahem, SATC).
And that’s only finances! There are even better struggles about identity and ambition, life choices, living with terrible past decisions, and…
3. Complex Female Characters Have Complex Relationships- WITH EACH OTHER!
Oh man. A lot has been written about how Nashville is/isn’t a feminist show, and while I stand firmly on the side that it IS (or is at least trending that way), what’s more gratifying is how the writers utilize their lady leads. Rayna despises Juliette for her pop-infused music and views her as an ungrateful brat (essentially) but has to deal with the fact that her kids LOVE her music and that her biggest hit in years is thanks to a collaboration with the icy blonde. Juliette hates Rayna on the surface but apparently used to WORSHIP her as a child. She also resents Rayna for using her as a cash cow and the fact that Rayna has so much control over her own image.
With issues like this, it’s no surprise the show EASILY passes the Bechdel test with every passing episode. Romance is almost never the primary issue of any episode; love is something these ladies deal with after the checks have been cashed and the arena’s shut down.
But oh, when it is…
4. Love Entanglements That Are Realistic AND Unpredictable!
As a viewer of nighttime soap-y dramas for more than ten years, I can tell when a relationship isn’t designed to work on-screen. If you’ve owned a television set at any time over the past five years or ever been in a relationship yourself, you know it too! You can tell when writers are setting something up to fail and IT’S SO IRRITATING- especially when the toxic relationship eats up five or six episodes of a season. The writers for Nashville aren’t interested in torturing the characters (and the audience) with relationships that obviously don’t work (Teddy and Rayna); instead, they’re forging ahead with plotlines that move the story (and character’s lives) forward.
Things that would normally drag out for three episodes of any normal nighttime drama are easily resolved or go unacknowledged as conflict on this show. Consider Juliette and Deacon sleeping together early on in the season: instead of spending four episodes trying to work out what their relationship means to each other, they both acknowledge that it happened and moved on to being friends/collaborators. In the most recent episode, Rayna and her amazingly hot new producer spend a wild night on the town together trying to distract the former from her impending divorce, they don’t run into Deacon or Juliette (something that would have almost certainly occurred on shows like The OC, Grey’s Anatomy, or Scandal).
You have to respect writers who respect their audiences! And if smart problems, intense relationships, and lovelorn guitarists aren’t your things…
5. The Soundtrack is Fantastic.
Boys and buses really do have a lot in common!
This is the right show for the “Wrong Song”!
If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t try to seduce someone to this song.