The first season of ABC’s “Nashville” saw the winds of change blow for several of its main characters.
Avery Barkley (played by Jonathan Jackson) ditched his bandmates and blew off his girlfriend Scarlett in a bid towards country fame. When record label head Dominic King (played by Wyclef Jean) tried to change his sound to incorporate dubstep, Avery destroyed the demos they had just recorded, and ended up back on the bottom of the heap. Avery then seemed to gain some humility as he toiled as a roadie. He even turned down advances from a very drunk Juliette Barnes, which his former self arguably may not have done.
Rayna Jaymes’ husband Teddy Conrad also seemed to have a change of heart. The season started with Teddy Boy running for mayor of Nashville assisted by Rayna’s father Lamar (more on him in a minute), and he and Lamar played dirty against fellow candidate Coleman Carlisle (played by Robert Wisdom). Teddy also had shadowy dealings with a woman from his past named Peggy, who ended up blackmailing him.
Rayna (played by Connie Britton) and Teddy got a divorce, and it was revealed to the audience that their oldest daughter was actually fathered by Deacon Claybourne. Despite the turmoil of the divorce, we saw Teddy trying to reconnect with daughter Maddie, and he was attacked by a drunk Deacon on the season finale. Speakin’ of Deacon…
Deacon Claybourne (played by Charles Esten)was introduced as a guitarist for hire who had a professional and personal history with Rayna. He joined Juliette’s touring band and helped the singer’s mother in her rehab. Deacon had started dating a veterinarian and seemed ready to leave the road and start a life with her, but Deacon and Rayna both dumped their paramores in favor of each other. When Deacon found out he was Maddie’s father, he went on an incredible bender that included getting physical with Teddy and Coleman (Deacon’s sponsor). Why finding out he had a daughter made him so angry still baffles me.
And then there’s Lamar, played by national treasure Powers Boothe. Boothe has made a career of playing slimy bad guys, and Lamar seemed no different as he pulled the strings in Teddy’s mayorial campaign. However, Boothe reconnected with Rayna after a heart attack and Teddy went against his plans for a new baseball stadium. His other daughter Tandy, Teddy and Coleman seemed ready to take him down as the season wound down.
What was the cause of these character shifts? The show was reportedly in a creative tug of war as the season went on. There was tension between co-producers and ABC Studios and Lionsgate, and between the show’s writers in Los Angeles and the crew on the ground filming in Nashville. When one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, contradictory storylines and character developments can happen. It is possible that these developments were in the plans all along, however. They just seemed to happen in rapid-fire succession at the season’s end.