1. Connie Britton
The show’s leading lady has collected both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations over the last year and for good reason. As ageing country music star Rayna James – facing unwelcome competition from young upstart Juliette Barnes – Britton is a class act. Great vocals, great fighting talk, great hair… and enough sass to take on any challenger to her chart-topping crown.
2. Hayden Panettiere
Nashville’s secret weapon is not one but two killer female performances. Hayden Panettiere’s cocky challenger Juliette Barnes is introduced all guns blazing at the start of series one, but just as we were writing her off as rotten, the tough exterior was peeled back to reveal a vulnerable, broken core. It could have come off corny, but Panettiere’s delivery ensured her character’s troubled past remained far removed from her brand of bubble gum pop.
3. Lennon and Maisy Stella
Don’t be fooled by their tender years. Talented sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella were already YouTube sensations when they were cast as Rayna James’s music-obsessed daughters Maddie and Daphne – and show bosses certainly haven’t overlooked their skills. Their joint rendition of The Lumineers’ Ho-Hey is our musical moment of the series and with Maddie getting a beefed up storyline towards the end of series one (we’ll say no more, wouldn’t want to spoil it…), here’s to plenty more action from this adorable twosome.
4. The setting
The town that will leave you with country music coursing through your veins is so integral to the story, it lends its name to the show itself. Forget LA and New York, Nashville is the go-to place for the sort of fame these folk are after and Tennessee’s energetic capital – with its intimate music venues and prestigious stages – has us itching to pay a visit.
5. Juliette Barnes’s bitchy one-liners
Ah, the verbal bile that characterises the tempestuous relations between Rayna and Juliette. While one opted for the classy approach, the other took great delight in firing off poisonous insults at every opportunity. Yes, of course we’re talking about Juliette. She started as she meant to go on, insulting Rayna’s age: “My momma was one of your biggest fans – she said she’d listen to you while I was still in her belly.” By episode 7 we had, “Living legend? That’s another way of saying past her prime.” And episode 11 delivered another beauty… “Why’s she on my plane? Oh right, because she can’t afford her own.” Touché.
6. The music
Nashville’s toe-tappin’ tunes are the sort that get in your head and stay there. Whether it’s Juliette Barnes’s candy-coated lyrics, Rayna James’s rhythmic ditties or Scarlett and Gunnar’s soulful blues, the show’s soundtrack is catchy as hell – although with country legend T Bone Burnett pulling the strings behind the scenes, that should come as no surprise…
7. Deacon Claybourne
Recovering alcoholic and all-around hunk-about-town Deacon Claybourne (played by Charles Esten) does a mighty fine job as the show’s resident man candy. Attracting the affections of Nashville’s leading ladies, Deacon’s expert guitar skills, sensitive soul and love-struck gaze have us (and them) all a-flutter. Did we mention his sexy stubble? And chiselled jawline? We could go on…
8. The fashion
Plaid shirts and cowboy hats may be an acquired taste in most corners of the globe but in Nashville they’re practically uniform… It turns out you’re not a serious player on the city’s music scene unless you can strum a guitar on stage sporting a Stetson. Not that we’re complaining. And having two leading ladies who are world-famous music artists means plenty of fabulous sequin-studded stage costumes. Think Taylor Swift with a whiff of Beyoncé.
9. The accents
We’re not sure about y’all but we’ve developed a bit of a thing for the southern drawl of Rayna, Deacon and co. Whether it’s their soulful lyrics or catty comments, we’re nearabout obsessed with the Nashville twang and we’re trying our darndest to copy it.
10. All those season 1 cliff-hangers
Where to begin? When it came to ensuring a second series, Nashville covered every base with such jaw-dropping cliff-hangers, poor ABC had no choice but to bankroll their return. From marriage proposals to mortal peril, the series one finale had plenty of screaming, smashing and, er, crashing. At times it was a little too telenovela for our liking but it certainly had us itching for series two. Good thing, too – it strums its way back onto our screens tonight at 10pm on More4.