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Time to Turn out the Lights on 'Nashville,’ but Is the Party Really Over?
May 25, 2016  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

You can make a decent argument that in four seasons, ABC’s Nashville has said pretty much all of what it has to say.

But if Wednesday’s (5/25) episode is indeed the end of the series (10 p.m. ET), I’m still going to miss it.

It’s the classic soap fan’s lament. I’m going to miss seeing the good folks like Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) get a little less than they deserve while sleazier characters often seem to get a little more.

I also have last-show anxiety.

I know I want Rayna to end up with the good-hearted albeit combustible Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten). I want Scarlett to end up with Gunnar (Sam Palladio). I want Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) to get accepted for his music, not shunned because he’s gay.

I want Maddie (Lennon Stella) to reconcile with her parents and realize that Cash Gray (Jessy Schram) is using her.

Other resolutions don’t seem so clear-cut to me, so I really want to know what the creators think, and I’m probably willing to go with their choices.

For instance...

Will Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson, right), who’s a good guy, end up with Layla Grant (Aubrey Peeples) or Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), both of whom have a sympathetic side and a calculating side?

Nashville has packed a lot of action and more than a few surprises into its four seasons. When Juliette was about to jump off a building, for instance, Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson) rushed to save her and ended up falling off himself.


Thing is, Jeff was mostly a miserable conniving lowlife. Falling off a roof was the noblest thing he ever did.

As that moment suggested, Nashville has mined the traditions of both soap operas and country music, rolling out a litany of busted luck, broken hearts, warm hugs and long nights at the whiskey.

It’s been a lively ride, probably better if you like the country music that has permeated the show and created a nice little side industry of recording and real-life tours.

Truth is, though, some of the plotlines have been looking a little familiar this season, which may be one reason viewership has fallen. In that sense, it’s not a total tragedy for Nashville to pack up its guitar and turn off the lights.

The fact the show is at least leaving ABC also further closes the door on the soap phase of that network’s programming history.

After Desperate Housewives became a phenomenon, ABC decided to build part of its prime-time brand on big soaps, hoping among other things they would make ABC a go-to destination for women.

As often happens in TV, that strategy produced some winners, like Revenge, and some losers, like Blood and Oil. These days ABC is more keeping its hand in the game with hybrid soaps like The Catch, which is also a cat-and-mouse mystery – or, of course, all the Shonda Rhimes shows, which are soaps on steroids.

As for Nashville, there has been talk the producers are hoping for a pickup by a cable network or a streaming service.

That’s not an impossible dream. Nashville would bring a loyal core audience and some name recognition, though any relocated version might have to lower the budget and prune the cast.

A rescue would have the bonus effect of keeping television’s best showcase for country music, which still doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

But much as I hate to say this, sometimes in life you just have to accept that someone’s going to punch up a new song on the jukebox.

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Patsy Munden
Will miss Callie Khouri writing the Nashville musical artist scene we wish existed. More like the 1970s with Willie, Waylon and George. Plus some pretty amazing female artists then also. Marshall Chapman, anyone? I appreciate what CK is saying about young talented women being pushed inappropriately towards selling their sexuality. Lots more I'd like to hear from her. Hoping this show pops up reincarnated somewhere that I can access.
May 27, 2016   |  Reply
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