Nashville: Oh My God, That Finale! and Open Comments Thread
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Nashville: Oh My God, That Finale! and Open Comments Thread

By Amanda Mae Meyncke | TV Reviews | May 24, 2013 | Comments ()


Okay, where all my Nashville fans at? This post serves as a rumination on favorite characters, a look back at parts of the first season and will be fairly spoiler-filled. Read on if you don't care about that.


It would seem as if, faster than Juliette Barnes can curl her lip, this season flew by in the blink of an eye. What began as a simple drama about some country music stars and politicians in Nashville roared to life and turned in on itself, quickly becoming one of my only must-see-TV experiences.

Rayna James (Connie Britton), an established and beloved country music star who's star has begun to dim a bit finds herself and her old ways directly up against bright young thing Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), and the two duke it out over the course of the season, sharing men, swapping massive scandals, and attempting to best the other in a never ending battle of wills. James' representation of the older model of country music is in direct opposition to Barnes' flashy young pop influenced ways, and the tensions between the two feels epic on another level. Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), Rayna's long time guitar player and former lover (Lover! What a word!) is caught in-between the two as blow up after blow up pushes them apart and pulls them together. Complicating matters is Rayna's politician husband, Teddy (Eric Close) and two children (Lennon and Maisy Stella, two of the better singers on the show). Also in the mix is some up-and-comers struggling to make it in the Nashville music scene, Deacon's niece Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and her smart alarm boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Avery (Jonathan Jackson in a thankless role) as well as her new beau and longtime friend Gunnar (Sam Palladio). Scarlett and Gunnar get a publishing deal, then Scarlett gets a recording deal, everyone fights, there's a whole mess of political stuff with Rayna's terrifying dad Lamar (Powers Boothe) and Teddy I didn't even get into, and on and on and on it goes.

And the music, the music! If there's anything I tend to strongly dislike, it's country music, and I actually enjoy most of the music in Nashville, mostly because it tends to move the story forward in a very real way. Music is powerful, and throughout the show it's used as a weapon, a means to an end, a lie, a hidden truth, a solemn gift and a thousand other ways. Every song has a purpose, and watching the characters struggle to write, or easily rattle off a tune is a delight of a different sort. Adding to the pleasure is the fact that every one of them sings their own stuff, from Panettiere down to the youngest cast members. The music makes the show, and it's impossible to imagine it any other way.


What Nashville does especially well (no, not diversity, unfortunately) is highlight a wide spectrum of female characters, diverse in their motivations, desires and actions. The strongest and most interesting dynamic is undoubtedly the tension between James and Barnes, two self-made women who have built their empires from the ground up, and god are they fun to watch. Rayna James is a firecracker, as always, and Connie Britton is unbelievably moving as a woman juggling her roles as international celebrity, loving mother, devoted wife and woman on the mend after some very difficult circumstances threaten her entire way of life. James is staunch, resolved, a bad-ass in every sense of the word and one of the only characters who exists mostly without blame, living a good life, trying to be a good and thriving person. Her long-standing friendship and relationship with Deacon only highlights her reserves of good will and her attempts to redeem what was lost long ago.


Juliette Barnes is a woman still on the make. Meant to be a sort of Taylor Swift type initially, Juliette is the sort of person who makes three steps forward and two steps back, always struggling to define herself and set herself apart from others. She's massively self-confident outwardly, while remaining a shrinking, terrified child at her heart. Hilarious at times, petulant and insane at others, Juliette had a lot of growing up to do this season and while she's nowhere near where she needs to be, she's getting there as fast as she can. Money, fame and beauty haven't won her all she wanted, and what she wants most and can't seem to find is someone to love her as she wants to love. Person after person disappoints and destroys her, and she's finally brought so low she might actually be able to build a new kind of life in the coming season.


Scarlett O'Connor is perhaps one of the strongest characters on the show, simply because of her matter-of-fact resolve. Scarlett is most like Lily, from the Bob Dylan song, "Lily was a princess, she was fair-skinned and precious as a child, she did whatever she had to do, she had that certain flash every time she smiled." Scarlett is gentle, giving, willing to extend grace in almost endless measure, but she finds her footing and her voice over the season, and won't stand for being treated poorly by anyone. What Scarlett gains most is self-respect, and her arc is one of the most satisfying, taking her from a waitress with a remarkable voice to the main stage at the Grand Ol' Opry.


The show is about the past knocking on the door of the present, making itself known, and never letting anyone get away with anything for too long. While good things happen to people throughout, the opportunity for past indiscretions to destroy the present are constant. Eventually I stopped reveling in even the temporary happiness of various characters, knowing they'd be brought low again, sometimes only minutes later. Nashville never shies away from a difficult moment, exploring death and the very real consequences and hardship it brings into life.

The lesson here always seems to be that try as you might to close the door and start anew, there's no escaping what has happened. The show seems to cherish the idea that reasonable discourse is the best way to move forward, and puts a premium on forgiveness -- both of self and of others. The characters fall hardest when giving in to vices and temptations, whether it's over-confidence, pride and impulsiveness in the case of Juliette, or Deacon's inability to commit, or fully quit his addictions. Lessons are repeated until they are learned, and oh, how they're repeated. Nowhere else was that more visible than in the finale, with a surprise pregnancy announcement when all parties had moved on, the truth of a secret paternity revealed and a destructive car crash -- making literal the metaphorical problems that had been building all season.


With a definite renewal for another season, we can look forward to a whole new mess of problems. And while most shows never live up to the enormous promise of their first season, I have high hopes that the sheer number of characters can shoulder the burdens placed upon them. Nashville at it's core is a show about how we see the world and how the world sees us, and how that distinction dictates the kind of life we will have. Image is nothing more than a projection meant to guard what exists at the core -- our true self.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • So glad I'm not alone in my fanhood.

  • Meg

    This show is kind of dumb, and things often happen for what seems like no reason but most of the time I don't particularly care and for whatever reason I find it eminently watchable. But seriously, this finale, THIS FINALE, OMG. Can this just be the show? Please? Nashville needs to drop this Treme-lite bullshit which it never pulled off even when it tried and just EMBRACE THE SOAP. Which this finale did in spades. I mean, my god, we had a murder-suicide (because of a sex tape related blackmail), a relapse, a marriage proposal, a paternity reveal, and a motherfucking cliff hanger car crash.

    This show needs to stop pretending it's respectable and just accept the fact that it's basically Revenge: Country Edition.

    Also Hayden Panitwhatever fucking owns every inch of this show.

  • wpolochick

    This comment made my day.

  • Artemis

    I really, really wanted to love this show. The pilot was great, and I love most of the music, and I really like all of the cast. But the show itself is so disappointing. The pilot was a much more serious, more interesting show, like a Friday Night Lights set in the Nashville music scene. That was what I wanted to watch. But since then, it's gotten more and more soap opera-esque every week, and now I find it a forgettable, mildly entertaining lost opportunity.

    Also, I cannot believe they are resurrecting that f-ing baseball stadium plot. Raise your hand if the thing you really hoped they would spend more time on next season was municipal land use law. Anyone? Bueller?

  • Bucky

    I mean, to be fair, the current Nashville Sounds stadium is way out of the way ...

    But in all seriousness, I could do with about 95% less of Teddy in his stupid wooden office.

  • MelBivDevoe

    Hayden absolutely killed me in the finale. She was amazing.

    I'm with you on the music. Never been a country fan, but I want to download a lot of the songs from this show, especially that last number Juliette sang at the Blue Bird.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I love the song Scarlett sings too, Looking for a Place to Shine. Oh man, her singing at the Opry soothed.

  • Rose

    such a great cast - such terrible writers. The things I watch for Connie Britton... *sigh*

  • Lee

    I've been waiting for an Avery redemption all season. So glad we're getting a 2nd season. I hope show avoids going down the crazy rabbit hole like Revenge did in it's 2nd season.

    Yeah, Connie's hair is perfect.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Avery burning his records is the funniest thing I've ever seen.

    Scarlett opening the wisk from Avery made me melt a little.

  • Lee

    It was funny! I've yet to meet another fan that likes Avery. I can't be the only one.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I will always have a soft spot for Avery, mostly because I loved Lucky Spencer from General Hospital soverymuch.

  • Ruthie O

    I had to stop watching myself. For me, I hate when entire conflicts can be resolved with one sentence. A few episodes back, I couldn't understand why Scarlett didn't just explain that Gunnar was late or absent to the meeting because he was grieving the recent murder of his brother. One sentence would have solved that dilemma and the upcoming dilemma. ONE SENTENCE. That was when I quit the show.

    I did like a lot of the soap opera elements, and I loved the music (despite not being a huge country fan as well). I'm sure I'll go back and watch the last few hours during the summer season of TV desperation.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Do it! It's so fun. I agree, I was confused as to why Scarlett didn't explain, but I think that could also be explained by how intimidated she was by Rayna and how she didn't want to do anything that might compromise the deal.

  • FireLizardQueen

    I started out loving this show but the love has declined a bit by the end of the season. A large part it is the Teddy character... I absolutely despise the character and I hope they kill him off or something. The other problem is that the show is starting to feel too much like a soap opera. I want more inside baseball on the music scene and less murder suicide/car crashes/political scheming.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Noooo, the soap opera aspects are what make it partially so wonderful. I do admit I want more inside baseball as well. Yeah, Teddy is the wooooorst. What parts did you like of the finale?

  • FireLizardQueen

    Eh, I can deal with SOME soapy stuff. I mean, I love The Vampire Diaries for pete's sake, but it needs a bit more of a sense of humor about itself to pull it off as well as TVD. Hopefully we'll get some more lighthearted bits in the next season.

  • Mrs. Julien

    This seems like an appropriate place to ask if anyone else saw that in the People Magazine Most Beautiful Issue (What? Like you've never had a doctors appointment) Connie Britton was singled out for having beautiful hair and wrote a response as her hair. It, like her hair, was glorious.

  • melissa82

    Hahaha! That was perfect! Love her, I haven't watched Nashville at all but my roommate's obsessed and I should probably catch up this summer... I love Connie Britton and I hear Hayden Pantasdasvgasdie is great on it as well.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Hayden is lifechangingly good.

  • emilya

    i loved how ugly of a crier they made here in the finale and the episode before it. one of my main gripes of the portrayal of women in tv/film is how amazing they look when they are upset and bless hayden's heart that was some real ugly crying face and it made me love her and the show even more!

  • Amanda Meyncke

    RIGHT? I have spent more time talking about her hair, in real life, than my own. Not that that is a big sacrifice, just... realizing.

  • Lee

    I've seen a Twitter acct named "ConnieBritton'sHair". It made me smile.

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