Nashville Series Premiere Review: Welcome to Music City

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With a quickly established set of complicated characters, engaging original music built within this authentic setting and endless possibilities for intriguing stories down the road, Nashville is the best new show of 2012.

No matter what stories you tell, if you don't have truly interesting characters, nobody is going to care. Fortunately, Nashville has created a number of them in just the one hour of its pilot.

Connie Britton as Rayna

Between Charles Esten as songwriting legend Deacon Claybourne, Eric Close as mayoral candidate Teddy Conrad and Clare Bowen as poet-turned-songstress Scarlett O'Connor, the supporting cast will be fun to watch develop as the first season moves forward.

Having said that, it's still the two leading ladies who are going to carry much of the burden of the series. Thankfully, both Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere seem up to the challenge as fading country star Rayna Jaymes and up-and-comer Juliette Barnes, respectively.

It would be easy to pigeonhole both characters into their own well-known archetypes, but both Rayna and Juliette have already been portrayed with such complexities that it's hard not to see them as real human beings; human beings we would love to see more of.

Britton, who impressed so many for five years as Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, may have actually found a role similarly sincere in Jaymes. Rayna is a famous country star, sure, but that doesn't make life simple. Between her controlling father, quasi-doubts about her marriage and the realization that her star isn't so bright anymore, it's going to be exciting to watch her deal with the ups and downs of life in the near future.

Barnes, meanwhile, seems to be as messed up as you might assume a world famous young girl with a junky for a mother might be. Panettiere plays the role with attitude, but it's clear that the girl is masking a lot of problems. Whether it be her need to drown her sorrows in sex, or her untamed desire to be the best, Juliette is a new twist on the instant star character we've seen time and time again.

Some have compared Rayna to Reba, and Juliette to Taylor Swift, but those are extremely lazy comparisons. I get that many call Swift out for not having the best singing voice, which is something she and Juliette have in common (made clear by that auto-tune crack in the recording studio).

If you're a fan of Swift, or a big country music fan, you saw the similarities between today's young star of country and Deacon's niece Scarlett. Like Scarlett, Taylor had a background in poetry before becoming a superstar. Where did Taylor catch the eye of future Big Machine Records executive Scott Borchetta? The Bluebird Cafe, which is exactly where the legend Watty White discovers Scarlett at the end of this series premiere.

The authenticity that Nashville has created by shooting the series in Nashville, and paying homage to some of its legendary locales, makes everything feel that much more genuine. Personally, I left Nashville in July after two years in the wonderful city, and this pilot excited me just from some of the scenic shots and quick mentions.

From the scenes at the aforementioned Bluebird Cafe, Rayna and Deacon's walk on the Shelby Street Bridge over the Cumberland River, the Loveless Cafe t-shirt donned by Connie Britton at bedtime, and the mention of getting a drink at Tootsies, they didn't cut too many Nashvillian corners. That is, except for the fact that there is no way on earth that a star like Rayna James would be getting a casual drink at the tourist laden Tootsies.

Where you would see stars like Rayna and Juliette is performing at the Grand Ole Opry, a tradition unparalleled in the country music world. Watching each of them singing on that stage, and all of the music during the episode for that matter, was nothing but fun for any country music fan. The best of all was probably Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio covering The Civil Wars' "If I Didn't Know Better."

We previewed it last week, and it was a haunting performance, but I'm more excited about what it might bring to the future of this show. What is Watty's idea? Why did Rayna specifically have to hear that performance? Are they going to pair Rayna with Scarlett to fight against the need to tour with Juliette?

There seem to be a lot of possibilities moving forward, not just with the music business, but in all of the relationships. Nashville has created a large twisted web of individuals early in its existence that may bring forth entertaining moments for years to come.

What did you think of the premiere of Nashville? Vote in the poll below, and tell us what you loved most about the episode in the comments...


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (156 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I really wanted to like this show, and I loved the first episode, at least the storyline. I really hate country music (only rap is more toxic to my ears) so I just can't bring myself to watch any more episodes. It's all just noise to me, and there is WAY too much of it. Blech. If they want to change this show to something with better music (even NO music would be better than what they're using) I will happily watch it again. Just one woman's opinion.


Just finished watching the pilot and up until the final 5 minutes couldnt decide if i was going to watch the next episode. That song at the end was one of the most beautifully haunting songs i have heard. Not to mention the looks between Scarlett and Gunner, the chemistry there is off the chart. I am already sold on the idea of them as a couple in future, which is scary after only a couple minutes screen time together; i normally hate it when people ship a couple after 2 seconds, now i am one of them. I can definately say i will carry on watching this show, but they must give me more duets with the aforementioned characters.


I have seen all three episodes now, and I absolutely love Clare Bowen's singing! I cannot get enough of that voice, when she and Sam Palladio sing its just beautiful! When are they cutting a real album?


Loved the songs and the singers. Also the I married the wrong man story line. Get rid of the political story line, politics are bad enough in real life, dont want to see them in a good show like this.


@Carol, Hayden was weak? You're kidding. She was great in this role and most people found so. I guess you just don't like her, for whatever reason. Anyhow, great show. I loved it! Loved the singing between Scarlett and the guy. Loved Rayna's singing and Juliet's as well. I'm hooked and can't wait to see where all this leads, especially that seeming love triangle between Rayna, her husband, and Deacon.


Lamar is scary!


Your WRONG in your assesement of Juliette Barnes being ANYTHING like Taylor Swift.......about the only thing those two would have in common is their teen star power. This was actually pretty good. And I'm DVR is already going into overdrive and I guess it's about to even more. Are these people singing ACTUALLY doing the singing????? I looked to the credits but didn't see anything?


Dallas,you say? More like ALL ABOUT EVE,with a little bit of country flavor. FORGET American Idol,FORGET The Voice,FORGET Dancing with the Former Stars. You learn more about the music business watching this show. Yes,ABC has once again given us THIS YEAR'S HIT.
I see some Emmys coming out of this bad boy,just like Modern Family. Even if you're not that into country music,you'll love 'NASHVILLE'.


LOVEDDD this show, i really hope it lasts!


I enjoyed the show. Yes it is the old story line of older singer being pushed out for younger, trashy singer. I liked Connie Britton, the husband always plays the part of a weak, shady character. Loved the duet, their voices blended well together, however the guys voice was very good and had that haunting sound I like. Reminded me of Keith Whitley & Vince Gill. I always love to hate Powers Booth. Will definitely watch again, gorgeous scenery and I liked them referencing places I've visited in Nashville. Reminded me a little of Memphis Beat (a show I thoroughly enjoyed) in referencing places in the town. I am for most anything to get away from the trashy reality shows such as Housewives, Kardashians and all the rest.

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