Sadly some people wrote off Friday Night Lights thinking it was a show a about football, a game they just did not care for. But the show was not about football, it was family and a small town whose population just happened to gather together every Friday night to watch the town high school play football. In fact the football scenes were the least interesting part of the show. I do not bring this up in relation to the new show Nashville because Connie Britton played the great Tami Taylor on the show. I bring it up because I fear people not bother to tune into Nashville simply just because they do not like country music or even music that can described as alt-country, punk but more cerebral.
But much like Friday Night Lights is about people, some of which just happen to play football, Nashville is about the people of the town, some of which just happen to play country music. Britton plays the reigning Queen of Country on the downside of her career, think Reba Reba McEntire who has to watch a less talented Hayden Panettiere (Remember the Titans), a evil(er) version of Carrie Underwood, get more and more attention from their record label who thinks the two should co-headline a tour. Of course Hayden wants Connie’s producer, band leader and guitarist and will do whatever she can to get them.
But Nashville is not just about music, there is Powers Booth (Tombstone) plating Britton’s father , who doesn’t like the hillbilly music, but does like controlling the politics in Music City and does not mind playing dirty. This includes handpicking Britton’s husband, who lost most of his money in the economic downturn, to run against one of Connie’s good friend. Not surprisingly she does not like her husband under the wing of her estranged father that leads to a great confrontation in the first episode.
But much like the football was the least interesting part of Friday Night Lights, the new music on Nashville just is not good (full disclosure notice: I have never been much of a fan of traditional country music). Hayden is presented as a pop music crossover in the vein of Taylor Swift, but her songs in the first episode are the same bland country music that Connie sings. The background music, by Eli Young Band and Miranda Lambert is much better country music. The only “new” song on Nashville that is any good is an unreleased song by The Civil Wars. If we are lucky, the music will improve throughout the season, T-Bone Burnett, the guy who brought back the folk rock trend of the past decade by producing the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack, serves as the music executive producer with songs written by Elvis Costello, John Paul White of the Civil Wars and Hillary Lindsey who has written some of Carrie Underwood’s biggest hits.
But as I mentioned in the intro, the show is much more about the people. And these people like to get around and have some deep dark secrets. Just in the premiere they set up a couple of love triangles (and other polygons), bed hopping, drug use, plenty of nepotism, paternity questions, backstabbing, and Hayden show how she got so big with such minimal talent (hint, it is not just the auto-tune). Really the only thing missing is some hair pulling (you gotta save something for the rest of the season). By the end of the year Nashville may just overtake Dallas as the juiciest city in the world.
Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10:00 on ABC. You can steams recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Nashville on iTunes where you can currently download the Pilot for free.