Nashville: “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” (Episode 1.06)

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When I first saw the pilot for Nashville I was beyond excited for the possibilities the show presented. We were shown a slew of interesting characters all with two things in common: country music and living in Music City USA. One would assume they’d all cross paths eventually. There are so many links between some of the characters that it would be impossible if they didn’t grab a drink together every now and then.

However, by “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” the series hasn’t remotely gone in the direction any of us thought it’d go. Some are griping about it, and even I have in recent weeks, but I don’t mind that the series is a series of smaller stories. Will the threads eventually need to come together? Yes, but for now I’m OK with the separation between all of the characters—that is if the stories continue to remain as solid as they have been.

Rayna’s hard at work on her new album, which she wants to be different than anything she’s ever done. She goes to a rock musician to ask him to be her producer, but he is resistant because all she sings about is “SUVs and mom stuff.” However when she goes back to convince him she’s singing about more personal and gritty topics, he agrees to hear her out. The conversation about having too much going on and the constant buzz she hears whenever she tries to write was a great way to highlight what it is to be an artist. After a few glasses of whiskey (amen, sister) she drunkenly records an electrifying song. Hopefully this plot goes in the direction I want it to and the show will focus on the recording process. That’s where the show is at its best: when it’s focusing on the music scene.

The episode continues to focus on the scene with Avery’s continuing quest to make it big. So far Scarlett has received more screen time and noteworthy stories this season, but her boyfriend Avery received his first substantial plot. His band is trying to get an opening slot to play with The Lumineers (whose name is dropped no less than a dozen times in 40 minutes) and he gets a local promoter to come to a gig he’s playing. The promoter likes their music, as does a sultry manager who has a history with Deacon. When Avery goes to his girlfriend’s uncle for advice, he suggests Avery stay away from the manager because she only signs hot, young musicians that she wants to sleep with. When they don’t get on The Lumineers’s bill, Avery makes a snap decision to meet with the manager. Luckily he decides to not cheat on Scarlett, but that doesn’t stop her from moving out and into Deacon’s house.

Those are the plots I’m still invested in. Juliette’s dramatic saga has slipped through the cracks. She’s dating a Tim Tebow-eqsue rookie quarterback at the advice of her publicist. She’s on a wild ride that is supposed to show what it’s like to be a young starlet in the music industry and the pressures singers face. But I feel like we should care about a character before a show drags her through the mud. The show is starting to depict Juliette as a Lindsey Lohan-type starlet, but we never saw Juliette as an innocent teen star we could root for. I always just shrug off the scenes she is in, but hopefully eventually her plots will matter.

I feel the same way about Teddy’s bid for mayor. There’s a lot of dirty politics going on that really make this show a soap opera. At least the show tried to stretch the connection between Deacon and his rehab sponsor, Carlisle, who happens to also be running for mayor.

The threads are there to unify the show, and one half of every week is superb television, while the other half is just another average show. If this show wants to take it to the next level I suggest it start to focus on what is working instead of trying to find time for all of the characters. Sometimes you need to adapt to what the viewers want or the viewers are going to leave you. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon because the show is still one of the best new series out there, but it is something that could spell trouble further down the road.