Let me start by saying the ABC soap opera “Nashville” isn’t really doing it for me in Season 2 like it did in Season 1. This show, which was legitimately good stuff last year is more one I keep on the DVR out of habit. In fact, when I do watch, it tends to be while I am working and need something to half-listen to as I plow through my daily tasks. The joy and fun of the adversarial relationship between Juliet Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) and Rayna James (Connie Britton) is gone, as that relationship basically doesn’t exist as a plot device anymore and, in its place, I have to deal with all these ancillary characters who cut into my time admiring Britton’s gorgeous hair or observing Panettiere’s tiny, tiny hands (as an aside, seriously they are small like a carney, she just probably doesn’t smell like cabbage. Plus, the props people always have her holding oversized mugs or giant bowls to just fully drive home the size of her teeny tiny fists).
These days though, instead of Rayna and Juliet, we get to hear more about Gunner the aspiring songwriter, Teddy, Rayna’s ex-husband, Zoey, the girl fresh off the bus from Mississippi, and, the worst of them all, freaking Scarlett.
For those who don’t know, Scarlett (played by Australian Clare Bowen) has been on the show since the start, but her role has grown larger, not to mention substantially more obnoxious, as the show has progressed. Why they keep shoving this person down our throats is beyond me for a variety of reasons. Let me list them for you:
1. Clare Bowen is a horrific actress
2. I don’t really care that Clare Bowen is Australian, this is sincerely the worst Southern accent ever depicted on broadcast television
3. The writers have made her both boring and a horrible person all at the same time, prompting the audience to constantly just pray she gets hit by a bus.
Earlier this season, they teased a major character was getting shot. My friend Elaine and I knew it was a longshot, but prayed they would finally off Scarlett. We weren’t the only one, as the Fug Girls, various recappers, and just about the entire Southern “Nashville”-watching population of the United States chimed in hoping for the same.
First, let’s address Bowen’s acting. She speaks in a weird, clipped cadence that makes her sound like she has some sort of handicap. Here, look. She stares a lot, but don’t let this clip fool you that she is emoting. This stare is what you get when she is happy, sad, scared, drunk, upset, or any other emotion. That is her emoting. Speaking in short, machine gun-like spurts, then just staring at people. It is Acting with a capital A.
Then there is the accent, which is like Yosemite Sam by way of a Muppet. I have lived in or frequently visited the South my entire life. I can say with 100% assurance that I have never met anyone that sounds anywhere close to this. While I have never been to Scarlett’s alleged home town of Natchez, MS, I have met plenty of people from Mississippi and the coach from The Waterboy sounds more like a believable human from that state than Scarlett does.
This scene I linked to shows you the staring and the accent, but it is also great because you get to see all the other awful things about Scarlett, like her wardrobe. Yes, that is her bare midriff as she wears the same sweater I believe Julia Roberts wore in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, just in a different color. It is paired with some sort of flouncy skirt, the kind girls used to wear on Howdy Doody. In fact, most of Scarlett’s wardrobe looks like what would happen if Anthropologie created a Howdy Doody Collection. Her strange, long, fake blonde hair is often styled in strange designs, pigtails, and other ‘dos you would expect Daisy Mae from Lil Abner to turn up in.
Then there is this diary her music producer is reading out of…You see, darling Scarlett never wanted to be a singer, oh no. She writes poems. In her journal. She wanted to be a poet. That is why she moved to Nashville. To be with her uncle and pursue her career as a poet in the literary hotbed of America. Screw Music City, Nashville is Sonnet City and darling Scarlett is going to make it her oyster.
She decides to fall back on Plan B, which is to be a singer because, as her friend and sometimes lover Gunner teaches her: songs are just poetry with a beat! Amazingly, Scarlett never figured that out in elementary school like the rest of us, so when she puts two and two together and discovers there *is* a way for poetry to be profitable, she figures, “what the heck?”
We are expected to believe that this low rent version of the preposterously offensive Renee Zellweger character in “Cold Mountain” is somehow crafting work on par with Nickel Creek or The Avett Brothers or some other country band with indie cred, which seems hard to believe. For a gal so in touch with her emotions she can channel them into poetry, the poorly-written Scarlett can’t handle just about any social situation. Being on stage? Too scary. Dumping a boy then having him end up with your friend? Hate them both forever. Even a task as simple as showing up at a bar to watch her friends sing can’t be handled without her drink of choice, tequila and grapefruit juice. Yes, even Scarlett’s drink of choice is unbelievable and annoying. Seemingly every week, she is so awkward and stupid, she nearly gets fired from her lucrative record deal as she offends publicists, producers, and managers with her inability to behave like a half-normal human being. Yes, this person sounds like the type of person with such a nuanced understanding of her feelings, she is capable of drafting this:
I wanna melt in I wanna soak through
I only wanna move when you move
I wanna breathe out when you
breathe in then I wanna fade into you
If I was just ashes and you were the ground
And under your willow they laid me down
There’ll be no trace that one was once two
After I fade into you
She is the worst kind of depiction of a Southerner–a terribly accented hillbilly idiot who can only show the slightest bit of intelligence and depth when she is singing. And therein lies the problem–worthless as Clare Bowen is in all other facets of the show, the girl can sing. I can’t stop listening to Black Roses, even though I think the premise of the song is beyond dumb, and it is mostly because that girl just sings the shit out of it.
So here is what I propose that I think will at least start to fix what is wrong with Nashville:
We can still have Scarlett get hit by a bus and die. This is a good plan we shouldn’t give up on. Here is the trick though: we just have Rayna or Scarlett’s uncle, Deacon, or whoever learn that, during Scarlett’s recent addiction with pain killers, she pulled three all-nighters in the studio recording almost 50 original songs. She can be the Tupac of Nashville, an artist who long since died, but keeps turning out tunes. We will never have to see her dumb ass outfits, listen to her dumb ass talking, or watch her dumb ass pouty duck face pointedly stare at another character ever again, but darling Clare can still collect a paycheck churning out songs that make the show worth watching.
Who’s with me?