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Culture Television


Britton (left) and Panettiere (Chris Hollo/ABC)



Now in its second season, ABC’s romantic comedy Nashville (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. Eastern) may not be burning up the charts, but it is turning heads. In many ways a country version of Glee, stars of the show Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton recently earned Golden Globe nominations. And with 500,000-plus downloads of original songs, the show is resonating well beyond its rising Nielsen ratings.

Still early in its second season, though, it’s hard to predict where its storylines are headed. If Nashville creator Callie Khouri’s film Thelma and Louise is any indication, it may not be a happy ending. While the divas of Nashville may not take up cliff-diving, they do display destructive tendencies similar to those of Khouri’s first heroines. When Rayna, an older singer played by Britton, releases her latest album to a collective yawn, her record label asks her to headline for younger artist Juliette (Panettiere). The result is a cut-throat battle for the spotlight, eclipsed only by the ever-present concern of who is or isn’t sleeping with them. Add to that a love triangle between budding songwriters as a subplot, and the words “soap opera” readily come to mind.

That’s not to say the show is without virtue. Rayna is a mom of three fighting to save her marriage. Loyalty in the music business may be scarce, but it’s certainly valued in characters like Deacon and Scarlett. And perhaps most promising, Juliette’s love interest, Sean Butler (Tilky Jones), is a Tebow-like Christian.

But Sean’s parents embody every negative stereotype of conservative Christians. And because the redemption Sean offers Juliette has nothing to do with Christ, he is unable to save her. Not surprising then that in a recent episode, her quickie marriage to Sean is annulled, potentially sidelining him for good.

Music City is known for both saints and sinners. But in Callie Khouri’s Nashville, it’s the sinners who have more fun.