Wednesday, November 13, 2013

REVIEW: 'Nashville' Tackles What It Means to be a Woman in the Music Business in 'She's Got You'

ABC's Nashville - 2.07 She's Got You

Maddie feels lost and tells Rayna she wants to get to know Deacon better; Luke commiserates with Rayna about the challenges of exes and parenting; Juliette angers a lecherous but very influential radio DJ; Deacon tries to find his way back to music; Will runs into Brent on a date with a new man; and Gunnar finds himself in a power position in his singing and songwriting.

Nashville has had plenty of the over-the-top soapy ridiculous lines. But the line that closes "She's Got You" is probably the biggest - and most contrived - one yet. Olivia Wentworth only pops up in that final scene at Juliette's hotel door to confront her about sleeping with her husband. Instead she utters the line, "I know you're sleeping with my husband. But what I don't understand is why you're not sleeping with me." And then planting a big ole kiss on Juliette. That is pure soap. I could not stop laughing about it for the next five minutes after it aired.

I really shouldn't be surprised by this moment. The show meaningfully wanted it to be a shocking conclusion to this episode. I simply have no interest in it though. I don't care one bit about Olivia. And the show has always had its moments of soap. But it has never really done those moments well. It can tell the small and simple stuff well. It can tell stories about the music business well. It cannot sell these over-the-top big soapy moments at all. Because of that, that final scene really stands out - and not in a good way - in an otherwise pretty decent episode of Nashville.

For instance, I haven't like the Juliette sleeping with Charles Wentworth story at all because it feels like a retread of what she has done before. However, I really enjoyed the conflict between the two in this episode. Especially Juliette's big speech to him about how hard it still can be for a woman to make it into this business. Hayden Panettiere was amazing in that sequence.

Elsewhere, Maddie was mad and pouty again because she didn't wanna sing at Teddy's wedding reception. I don't blame her. I wouldn't want to be in that story either. But she turned around because the plot required her to - and just to get her and her sister onstage to play another song.

The story that actually felt the most natural was Rayna's. All of this stuff is happening around her and she feels overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. And the show has done a respectable job of easing in Will Chase as her new suitor. I was annoyed by him constantly on Smash but here I've enjoyed his presence as a kind of wise person to the ways of divorce for Rayna. Do I think they jumped into bed too soon? Yes. But that also was something I was fully expecting - and didn't mind too much.

Some more thoughts:
  • Gunnar is finally getting pulled back into the show's main orbit. But gosh, his story tonight was boring. As soon as Jeff offered him a spot on a tour, you knew immediately how it was going to end. He wouldn't be on Juliette's tour because Gunnar has no narrative trajectory with her. He has history with Scarlett and that should be interesting. It's mostly just yawn though.
  • And speaking of Scarlett, she needs a better defining character trait than just being surprised by what life as a singer is really like and what she is required to do. That got old a few episodes ago.
  • I've always enjoyed Will's character struggles because of their subtlety. However, by bringing those issues to the forefront here, they were painfully obvious and played like parody instead of something we're meant to take seriously.
  • I did purposefully laugh though when the club Deacon wanted to play at turned out to be a comedy club.