DVRs would be far more dignified if they offered categories. Sections to help us organize, and more importantly, disguise our television preferences. The main screen would display all the shows you record that are totally normal and in no way humiliating. The New Girl, Homeland, 30 Rock, and depending on the time of year, Breaking Bad, Louie, Modern Family and Justified. Oh, and Gilmore Girls. Always The Gilmore Girls. Reliable, respectable shows where no one gets voted off or vomited on. Then you’d have a sub-category for the programs you don’t really watch, but record out of habit because deleting them might hurt the show’s feelings. We’re looking at you here, The Office and Project Runway. Then, the final and most crucial section would be a folder called “60 Minutes,” and it would filled with complete garbage. All the embarrassing, dreadful stuff that you love but don’t want anyone to know you watch. Anything with a Dance Mom, or a Housewife, or a request for viewers to text in their votes. Also, any show that features a soundtrack you can buy on iTunes, or aliens, or senior citizens who talk dirty for comedic effect. They all get dropped in 60 Minutes. Why? Because then when someone looked in your DVR, all they’d think is “Oh, this person likes respectable, long-form journalism,” not “You know there are other channels besides TLC, right?” As a man who has had a girlfriend ask, “So… exactly how many episodes of The Golden Girls do you have saved anyway?”, I understand the necessity for 60 Minutes. Especially because the best answer I could come up with was, “Only the important ones.”
When I first saw commercials for ABC’s Nashville, it had 60 Minutes written all over it. If, that is, it was making it onto my DVR at all. The premise of the show seemed to be “Blonde women who fight with each other and sometimes play guitars. Also, there are men in cowboy shirts.” Clearly they would be hawking a new song every week, and it starred Hayden Panettiere. None of these things are good. Basically it looked like Smash meets chewing tobacco, and trashier than my tastes normally run. Plus there’s the name. Nashville. History is not exactly bejewelled with brilliant TV programs named after a location. 90210. Melrose Place. Dare I say it… Dawson’s Creek. It just didn’t instill confidence. But then, because oh boy do I have a lot of free time, I actually watched an episode. And that’s when I realized, “Damn, Nashville is really good.”
In case you have yet to be won over, these are the reasons why you should give Nashville a shot.
It’s Friday Night Lights Without the Football: OK, perhaps that’s a little strong. Friday Night Lights was amazing. But hear me out… Nashville is essentially a show about two different types of Southern families. There’s the old money, traditional clan built around an aging country star (Connie Britton) and her shady political father, and the newly rich, deeply troubled one surrounding a hot young pop star (Panettiere). Initially, the show focused on a cat fight between the two singers, but because “You are old! Yes, but you are dumb!” gets tired fast, they’ve branched out, and found a lot of interesting stories to tell. Just like Friday Night Lights, they’re managing a large stable of characters — there’s another younger singing duo, an old flame of Britton’s, a race for a Mayor, many of which involve men in cowboy shirts — giving us a diverse picture of Southern life. It’s not high drama, but it’s good, grounded storytelling about different classes and the types of problems they present. There aren’t a lot of shows that pull that off. Friday Night Lights did it expertly. Nashville clearly isn’t at that level, but it’s early yet. And hey, maybe Buddy Garrity will open a dealership in town?
It Has Connie Britton: The most obvious connection to Friday Night Lights is of course Connie Britton, who played Tami Taylor so amazingly that I both wanted to sleep with her and make her my mother simultaneously. (Don’t worry, my therapist and I are still working it out.) She’s great in Nashville as well, as she was on American Horror Story, which means she’s been aces in three different shows in a two-year span. Not even a Golden Girl could do that.
The Music is Awesome: If you hate country music at all costs, then this might not be the show for you. But if you dig a banjo here and there, and a little twang in your guitar, then I promise Nashville will get you humming. The young irritatingly attractive duo especially. Like Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, or the music from Crazy Heart? You will like this show.
It’s Respectable Trashy: Look, the show is not without its schmaltz. A recent scene where Panettiere’s character goes on a date with an NFL quarterback who just happens to both play guitar and sing a smooth harmony to one of her biggest hits comes to mind. And really, is there not an unattractive person in the city of Nashville? But hey, you gotta do something to keep the kids coming back. And Nashville can fill that soap-opera sized hole in your heart without feeling too dirty about it. Which means neither you, nor I, need to feel embarrassed to have it on our DVRs.
Still though, I would really like that 60 Minutes folder.