Today I woke up to the worst news imaginable. My favourite TV show – Nashville – has been cancelled. The gods that govern American TV have handed out its fate and in one fell swoop, four seasons and a hella lotta toe-tappin’ drama is over. Just like that. Done. Finito. Kaput.
I’ve watched this happen a hundred times before to plenty of fan bases and I’ve sat by, sometimes a little bit smugly, safe in the knowledge that my show would live on.
But American TV is a cruel place. Every May, fans nervously await the fate of their beloved series as the powers that be crunch the numbers and track audiences to decide whether each one is worth continuing to bankroll. There are the dead certs – the Grey’s Anatomys and Big Bang Theorys of this world – and the sure-fire cancellations limping through their freshman years to an inevitable demise.
And then there are the Nashvilles – in US TV speak, the shows “on the bubble” with their future hanging in the balance. Each year I’ve anxiously awaited ABC’s decision – and most Mays I crack and write a piece imploring TV bosses to give it another chance. Just one more series of Stetsons, sequins and another soundtrack packed with rhythmic ditties, soulful blues and candy-coated lyrics and I’ll be happy.
Each May they’ve left us Nashies (yup, that’s our name) hanging right up to the wire – but the decision’s always gone in our favour… until now.
So grateful to so many for the dream that has been #Nashville. Not always easy to be Deacon. But to play him? An absolute joy and an honor.
— Charles Esten (@CharlesEsten) May 13, 2016
— Chris Carmack (@RealCarmack) May 12, 2016
I'm so thankful I was a part of a special show; I wish it was handled with more care. thank you to every fan who kept us going #Nashville
— Aubrey Peeples (@aubreypeeples) May 13, 2016
There are many reasons I’m gutted about this particular cancellation. Yes, Nashville is soapy – the melodrama has given us several murders, ridiculous car crashes, and endless spats and reconciliations between leading ladies Rayna James (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). But the series has also dealt sensitively and skillfully with issues such as addiction, homophobia and post-natal depression (a storyline that mirrored Panettiere’s real-life experiences).
Then there’s the fact that it’s a drama led by two women – complex characters with huge hearts, fiery tempers and the hottest music acts in town, regularly belting out catchy tunes penned by some of Nashville’s best songwriters. Not a common trait of US – or UK – television.
I visited Nashville last year, dragged my friend to the Bluebird Café and witnessed first hand how the city has taken the show to its heart. To them, it’s more than a TV series – it’s a brand, releasing albums and touring the States (and later this year the UK) so fans can see their favourite cast members performing Nashville’s hits as they’re meant to be seen: live.
This morning’s news comes with the suggestion – via Deadline – that the show will be shopped around elsewhere. It’s not implausible that Nashville could follow in the footsteps of recent examples The Mindy Project and Supergirl who have both found second homes on different networks.
I hope this is how the song ends for Nashville, too. At the very least, it deserves one final encore.