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Review: ABC’s ‘Nashville’ sings of drama, country music

Courtesy of ABC

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Many television drama series can be hard to analyze these days.  

But ABC has provided an easy escape – and some pleasure to the ears – with the easily comprehensible plot and themes of “Nashville,” which aired its series premiere Wednesday.

The story is about a country music queen named Rayna Jaymes, played by Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights,” being pushed out of the limelight by rising star Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes.”

Rayna is touring in support of her new album, but the tour is not selling nearly as many tickets as expected. She is quickly running out of money and her only option is to combine tours and open for Juliette. But she’s too proud after having been on top of the country music business for so long that she refuses to take this option.

Meanwhile, Rayna’s father is a successful campaign manager who has taken the responsibility of helping her husband Teddy, played by Eric Close, run for mayor of Nashville. And given her rocky relationship with her father, Rayna refuses to take money from him to help get her career back on the upswing.

The conflict heightens when her husband suggests she stop playing country music and focus on helping the campaign. Stubborn Rayna refuses, creating a rift between her and her family.
While Rayna likely reels in sympathy from viewers, Juliette always seems to have an agenda.

From the start of the show, it’s obvious these women don’t like each other. Juliette seduces Rayna’s guitarist and ex-love interest, partially for her own gain but also because she knows it will get under Rayna’s skin. The interactions between Rayna and Juliette are pretty unpleasant, and most of the unpleasantness seems to stem from Juliette.

Juliette rejects a phone call from her mother near the beginning of the pilot episode which paints her as an ungrateful diva. Later, however, it is revealed that her mother is a drug addict trying to take advantage of her daughter. Up until this point she seems pretty emotionless, but a breakdown in a broom closet generates some sympathy for the character from the audience.

There are several times when the show takes a pleasant break from the drama to play some fantastic country music.  

“Nashville” is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC.

An earlier version of this story stated that Rayna’s husband was named Deacon Claybourne, played by Charles Esten. In fact Rayna‘s husband is named Teddy, played by Eric Close.

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