Nashville, a show beloved by many for about four years (until its cancellation in 2016 on ABC and subsequent revival on CMT, when only Southern grandmas and myself rejoiced) is definitely dead. The show aired it’s final episode on Thursday night, tying up very many crucial loose ends while leaving me, its only loyal viewer, unsatiated.
Listen, I understand that when you’ve been making the same television show for six years and six seasons, there’s probably some mundanity alleviated only by taking liberties and really kitchen-sinking the whole shebang. Call me crazy, but I thought that was addressed when Hayden Panetierre, who plays country-pop powerhouse Juliette Barnes, literally joined a cult in the final season and moved to Belize to do “volunteer work” for said cult, where she was imprisoned and only able to escape after she realized she was pregnant with her husband’s child (whom she abandoned for the cult, and who finally moved on with the purple-haired Alannah (Rainee Blake). (When she returned, she caught him in the act.) But no!
The resurrection of Ms. Rayna James (Connie Britton), who you may recall died in a car crash after narrowly escaping a deranged stalker, was a sight to behold—for a moment, I thought the series was going to end in a scene of Claybourne psychosis right before he takes the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Instead, it ends in song with James, an unfortunate non-banger, quintessential members from the cast and crew rejoicing for one last hurrah. It feels incredibly antiquated, a fracturing of form full of realistic schmaltz instead of impossible drama. What was once a country music telenovela became a celebration of the people who made the damn thing. That’s fine, certainly sweet, but abrupt? It just, like, ended, ya know?
Other story lines ended with perfect packaging, the only way they could: Alannah and Jessie Caine (Kaitlin Doubleday) found justice against the country music-type Harvey Weinstein, Brad Maitland (Jeffrey Nordling). The James/Conrad family left tighter than ever—Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) Maddie (Lennon Stella) and Daphne Conrad (Maisy Stella). The band of boys—Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), and Will Lexington (Chris Carmack)—got back together. Scarlett O’Connor, after saving a veteran suffering from PTSD from suicide, married a musician we’ve never seen before.
When Nashville was first cancelled, former Jezebel Deputy Editor Jia Tolentino observed that no one on the show was ever granted real happiness—joy was always fleeting, quickly replaced with everything from the failures of an unforgiving industry to violence, death and destruction. Even with Rayna James’ unfortunate end, in the later years, these fucked up musicians managed to find some form of contentment. Perhaps that was the sign it was time to kill the thing after all.
Whatever the case, Nashville was accepted into the hearts of viewers past and present and I don’t know where I’m supposed to get my yeehaw jollies now. In the music of Kacey Musgraves, maybe?