There is fine line one must walk when creating a post-modern soap opera; certain tropes that can read as inauthentic if not done without a knowing wink. Acknowledging the type of story you are can go a long way in endearing your audience and helping them forgive some of the absurder storylines. I will call this the Revenge method. Another choice is to pretend that you are not a soap opera at all, but a regular drama with an inordinate amount of scandal. I will call this the Grey’s Anatomy method. Now, I am not saying either method is better, both shows are extremely popular so it’s not as if either one is doing anything wrong.
I hadn’t really been paying attention to which method Nashville was utilizing, but last night’s episode made it clear, not by anything they did, but in my reaction. Last week Juliette was videotaped stealing a bottle of nail polish and I predicted they would turn it into a scandal. I was ready to accept it, however unbelievable it was. But I didn’t. Now, I am an ardent worshipper of soap operas in any form. I revel in melodramatic twists and delight in over used tropes. I have accepted comas, surprise siblings, faked deaths, and people held captive in cages. But a scandal over one stolen bottle of nail polish? Sorry, not buying it.
In fact, I’m so not buying it that the more they tried to paint Juliette as a petulant child and convince her that this could ruin her career, the more taken out of the show I was. Because Juliette was right, this didn’t deserve a public statement or a GMA interview or anything but an eye roll and patience until people started talking about something else. It didn’t require police serving her with charges, in fact most stores’ loss prevention clause stipulates only pressing charges if the loss is over a certain amount and usually that amount is higher than $1.99.
But all of that is semantics. If Nashville was riding that line correctly I would have bought it. I have already bought that landing a publishing deal is as easy as reading a poem with a guitar, that one all powerful man can rule a large city, and that someone with Connie Britton sized singing talent can be a superstar. I can’t say exactly what they should have done to make it work; I can only say that it didn’t. And once I was taken out of the narrative, I started seeing other holes.
Namely, I cannot understand the Rayna/Teddy/Deacon triangle. I cannot understand why Deacon would stay so committed to a woman who refuses to do the same. I cannot understand why Teddy would stay with a woman so clearly in love with another man (especially since it was only recently that he wasn’t wealthy on his own). And I cannot understand why Rayna would punish herself by keeping herself from being with the man she loves , who is no longer using drugs, when he clearly still wants her, and is very likely the father of one of her children. I’m all for romantic entanglements, but this has become illogical.
And as much as I adore a good love pentagon, I don’t think Teddy’s meeting with Peggy had anything to do with an affair. I think she was involved in whatever business venture has him burning files and fearing an audit. So at least that’s getting more intriguing.
Hopefully this week was just a slight misstep and next week will see Nashville back on top again. It started out insanely strong, so it was really only a matter of time until it faltered. Now it’s out of the way and, hopefully, we can move on.
– Devin Mainville