ABC’s new country-music drama, which premiered Wednesday at 10/9c, follows Rayna Jaymes (Friday Night Lights‘ Connie Britton), a once-hot singer whose career has stalled. In order to stave off huge financial losses, her record company (nicely) orders her to ditch her upcoming solo tour and instead open for Juliette Barnes (Heroes‘ Hayden Panettiere), a sexed-up younger artist with crossover appeal. Barnes also has a bitchy streak, an addict mother, a tendency to hit sour notes and her own interpretation of friendly behavior. “I’m always nice,” she purrs to a member of her entourage moments before acting quite the opposite in Rayna’s presence.
Rayna hates the idea of touring with Juliette, but husband Teddy’s past financial failures (“We’re just a different kind of rich called ‘cash poor,’” he tells one of their young daughters) coupled with her refusal to accept any help from her domineering dad Lamar (Powers Boothe) makes the “co-headlining” gig seem inevitable.
Meanwhile, against Rayna’s wishes, her powerful father coaxes her husband into a mayoral run (“How about letting me step into the limelight for a change?” Teddy spits at her during an argument) and her bandleader Deacon (Charles Esten) – with whom she has a romantic past – is mulling a job offer from Juliette. But the hour ends on an up note when Nashville newbies Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) take the stage at an open mic night and perform an original song that just might revive Rayna’s career.
The music is fantastic, the relationships intriguing (what, exactly, was Lamar alluding to when he mentioned one of his granddaughters?) and the y’alls a welcome treat for anyone missing FNL’s Mrs. Coach.
That’s what we think, but what’s your take? Grade Nashville via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!