To the most cynically savvy viewer among us, the obvious question hanging over each new episode of ABC’s Nashville at this must be: which one of the lead female vocalists will be caught with their pants down, literally—cheating, two-timing, vow-forgetting, side-piece sampling, etc.—first? Each of these leading ladies has a case to be made for an upcoming oops, I’m in the wrong bed moment. Men in Nashville, TN apparently only come in the flavors of broken and heartbreaking. And if mothers all over the country find it necessary to warn their little girls about falling for musicians, there certainly has to be some sort of skull and crossbones sort of warning for politicians and athletes. It only makes sense for the ladies to continue to sample even after they’ve chosen entrees. So without further ado, let’s explore why, in detail, Rayna will get drunk and make out with Liam, the bad boy record producer guy.
That’s not to say that Juliette’s recent marriage and Scarlett’s faux love triangle (does Hailey make it a trapezoid?) won’t crumble in due time. The claim here that adultery and poor decision-making are on the horizon isn’t meant to be ambitious or even predictive. Rayna’s foreseeable transgression just speaks to how these familiar daytime TV stock characters and tropes have been revitalized in primetime by way of country-western lyrics and Wyclef. Rayna Jaymes and the girls are positioned, not at the mount of originality, but evidently, and more entertainingly, exactly where viewers want them most: firmly planted in familiar dysfunction. Adultery, corruption, drug abuse, Wyclef.
Mommy issues like Juliette Barnes’s usually grow stale pretty quickly on television (like the acting of anyone that has ever played Erica Kane’s daughter on All My Children) because it’s such a hard task to get the right smell of meth and neglect stuffed into the living rooms of the TV watching public. Never seems authentic enough or dramatic enough or we’re all just cold, jaded assholes because of our own mothers’ crack usage. Still, somehow Hayden’s Juliette has become a hypnotic example of an emotionally beaten daughter. She’s a hardened young pop princess with as much emotional baggage as blonde hair extensions and she carries it all as audaciously as could be desired. Her hurried marriage to star quarterback Sean Butler is the latest in her homages to real life celebrity hijinks, a nod to straight from the headlines sort of storytelling. Nothing groundbreaking here. So as we prepare for the Rayna-Juliette co-headlining mega tour (also pretty much written on the wall since the pilot episode), what we can also reasonably expect from Juliette is the continued impulse-driven bad girl act. Groupies should be on alert.
Let us not forget doe-eyed Scarlett and her dual suitors—the ex-boyfriend and the music partner. It’s hard to tell which she makes sweeter music with, perhaps because they have both revealed themselves to be patently subpar beaus while redeeming themselves just slightly enough to keep things interesting. Is it better to realize your mistakes and try to get back the girl that got away or to pounce on your crush as soon as the opportunity arises? Is it worse to start out a petty, insecure, and overbearing boyfriend, or in essence become one while dating another woman? Either way, Scarlett at some point will have to break a heart or two in Nashville, which will likewise come as a welcome non-surprise to many fans.
But why will Rayna Jaymes undoubtedly win this race to unfaithfulness, you ask? Well simply put: Everything begins and ends with Rayna. She is the matriarch of this series and Connie Britton has done a superb job making us all remember a simpler time when Patsy Cline and daytime soaps were legitimate religions for most Americans. She shines on the small screen and has brought all that undeniable magnetism from season 1 of American Horror Stories to Nashville this year in large doses. All of that and her newfound propensity to handle life’s hiccups with a bottle in her hand makes it a safe bet to assume she will have some huge, easily avoidable but nonetheless engaging, life-shattering slip up. If only because she is the actress and character most trusted in the cast to be able to pick herself back up. Deacon might be able to pull this off too, but Nashville is, if anything, about the women. Rayna is simply queen (even if “co-headlining”). And the queen needs to eat first. Liam the music man will increasingly look like food to her as the season moves towards its finale.
With that resolved, the next most pressing question on the Nashville menu would then have to be: Wyclef?