Nashville wasn’t just a TV series; it was a phenomenon but I’m not sure whether its final episode marks the end of an era or the dawn of one. You see here in the UK, Nashville’s appearance on our screens coincided with – and maybe helped fuel – a rise in the popularity of country music.
As this new glossy serial launched in 2012, C2C festival was just an idea and no one had heard of The Shires or Ward Thomas yet. It was unthinkable that country singers would soon sell out the Royal Albert Hall and if you confessed to liking country music people would assume you either played Dolly Parton or Billy Ray Cyrus on repeat.
Nashville gave a tantalising peek into the workings of Music City. For better or worse, it drew the country-curious into our (country fans’) world. People who didn’t know what ‘country’ was but knew they liked the soundtrack crashed country festivals and rushed for tickets to the cast tours. People remembered the brilliant, emotive songwriters a parent or grandparent had played when they were younger. Friends who’d previously dismissed my ‘quirky musical taste’ were suddenly asking for recommendations.
Through all it’s gloriously heightened reality – plane crashes, comas, love quadrangles, mega-rich villains – Nashville was actually teaching viewers a lot about country music.
Lesson 1: Country spans a broad spectrum
From Juliet Barnes’ and Luke Wheeler’s chart-topping pop country to Deacon’s intimate performances, finally non-country friends are able to understand that not everything under the ‘country’ umbrella is the same. When going to gigs now instead of having to explain “this person’s honestly a huge deal in the states” I could explain, she’s kind of like Rayna James.
Lesson 2: Country will face the unthinkable
Kill off a main character? Sure. While loads of us were waiting for a miraculous soap-style recovery, perhaps to find out this heart-wrenching plot had all been a dream/nightmare sequence, it slowly dawned that no, there was no quick fix to the pain. This was real tragedy allowed to play out and we wouldn’t resolve it or forget about it by the next episode, we would sit in the grief for the rest of the series.
Lesson 3: Country has a song for every situation
Coming out? Seeking revenge? Need therapy? Just like in the off-screen world, the series showed there’s a country song for every scenario a human might experience. Seriously, if you can’t find a country song for your current state, you should probably write one.
I have been on a journey with this TV show, following it as it hopped from More 4 to Sky Living, now Sky Witness. I have queued for hours outside the Bluebird café in Nashville, felt emotional on seeing one of Rayner’s dresses backstage at the Opry, fallen off my chair when Michelle Obama appeared on scree. I’ve allowed fiction and reality to blur as real country stars like Kacey Musgraves and Brad Paisley made cameo appearances and as yet more were name-dropped. It’s why, when the show was cancelled fans, “Nashies” rallied to save it and earned us the bonus of this sixth and final season. And it’s why twitter feeds were filled with gifs of emotional wrecks as the final episode aired in the UK last night.
Our Nashville Boxset Giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to winners Patricia, Helen and Simon.
The Final Season of Nashville is out on DVD 13th August.