“All hands on deck! A good city always goes down with its show! Get ready folks, the end is nigh! Nashville (try not to swallow too much soap while watching that trailer) is dead, and so, the city follows…” is not something I said to myself when I read ABC’s press release that included the soapy small screen interpretation of our fair city. In fact, I was relieved to see the show had finally come to an end. First, a quick aside: we should probably bare in mind just how calamitous a career changing scenario like cancellation is for those in the cast and crew during the show’s four year tenure (and those of us that hoped to get a spec-script picked up), so that said – a moment of silence for those jobs that have been lost.
Now that we’ve got all of the sad-sack humanism out of the way, lets look at the cancelation of Nashville from a progressive purview – the cancelation of Nashville is one of the best things to happen to Music City’s most ascendant half decade.
Sure, ABC’s eponymous television rendition of Nashville was certainly a fine promotional tool that thrust the city upon an international stage – Montreal-native Basia Bulat referenced the show multiple times throughout her recent tour stop at the High Watt – but were the hyperbolic and romanticized melodramas drawing from creator Callie Khouri’s brief four year (1978-1982) residence in Nashville what the city’s real residents want to be associated with; probably not. As a native Nashvillian, I sure as hell know the city deserves a more dynamic stage than a watered down modernization of Dallas.
The prevailing notion surrounding Nashville’s ability to punch above its weight to a four season series run is directly linked to the city (and state)’s repeated massive (along with much ballyhooed) subsidies doled out on the show’s behalf as a means to “boost tourism.” That’s great, as any midnight stroll down Broadway would give possible credence to the government incentives, but hearing people fawn over “Deacon” and “Rayna James” got pretty old pretty fast when there were people like Jason Isbell, Erin Rae, Caleb Groh, Jessie Baylin and Lucie Silvas (and countless others) being overlooked. Then there’s the counterculturalism of Nashville’s Dead and Freakin Weekend would have been incredible adapted storylines, but nevertheless, counterculturalism deserves a better platform than Wednesdays at 10ET/9CT.
The tired soap opera plot lines and empty industry dynamics of Nashville bred an overtone of a vanity-laden music industry (which isn’t totally unheard of, but certainly overwrought on the show). Then there was the miserable yet mandatory conversation if a Nashvillian were to go anywhere else in the contiguous 48, north of the border, south of the border, across the pond, or around the world – “Is the TV show really how Nashville is in real life!?” No, its not!
Furthermore the massive promotional vehicle that is – pardon me – that was Nashville somehow managed to underutilize the wellspring of talent at its proverbial fingertips, and inexplicably figured out how to fumble most local “cameos” in cringe-inducing fashion. What was once an enticing prospect of the show quickly became a parietal endeavor that propelled most to distance themselves from the show (and with good reason). There’s a community of collaboration – intermingling of genres, a DIY scene, a hip-hop scene with people like Chancellor Warhol and Mike Floss navigating uncharted Nashville waters – all of which would have made for wonderful plot pipelines to tap into. Nashville ain’t no one trick pony.Hell, it would have been cool to see some of the independent radio stations and publications (Lockeland Springsteen plug, anyone) get some love, but rather, the superficial soap opera beats were extended and further diluted, so as not to serve the actual city, but rather further perpetuate the bastardization of a lush creative community.
Anyway, now things will (hopefully) be oriented to elevate the “true” Nashville, rather than celebrating fictitious trysts that propagate tired entertainment tropes of upward mobility in the name of viewer ratings. Maybe now the city can find its most genuine persona and voice rather than being ever so slightly predisposed by the unfortunate ascription that was brought about by Nashville. So let’s pour one out for the show that appeared to be Nashville’s catalyzing factor, but quickly turned into the city’s giant tire pyre in the center of the town (a la The Simpsons), and let’s get back to focusing on the god damn music.
– Sean M.