Country music is only part of the formula for ABC's excellent new show. Its authentic setting, good writing, and quality performances are what fix the problems with Glee and Smash.
I've never been a country music fan. But for the love of Garth Brooks, I enjoyed Nashville.
I'm a musical fan. A musical TV-show fan. A musical TV-soap-opera fan. There's not one minute of Glee that I haven't watched, and Smash earned a season-pass slot on my Tivo the moment it was announced. But as much as there was to love about those two series, there was often even more to loathe, or at least be disappointed by. That's why ABC's Nashville (which premiered Wednesday night), the twangy tale of two rival country singers in the genre's greatest musical town, is so encouraging. It succeeds where Glee and Smash have failed. Finally, there's a sophisticated, adult musical series on TV.
The infallible Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story) plays veteran crooner Rayna James, an ostensible Faith Hill/Martina McBride/Reba McEntire aging country supernova struggling to keep her star burning bright in a changing business. Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) is Juliette Barnes, a tartier version of Taylor Swift who is thriving as the industry's young upstart. In true soap fashion, the two hardly disguise their jealousy for each other. Rayna wishes for Juliette's relevance and booming fanbase; Juliette is desperate for Rayna's industry respect and seemingly stable family life. And then there's the show's third lead character, Nashville itself, which serves as more than just the setting for this All About Eve redux. It provides the beating heart of a show about bloodlust, family, and desire.