Coming off of a highly successful freshman run, “Nashville” creator Callie Khouri knows exactly what to fix for an even better Season 2 — which kicks off in a week on ABC.
“Jonathan Jackson‘s character Avery, which when I originally conceived that character, he was just a jerk. He was really just going to be there as a foil to make you wish that Scarlett was with Gunnar,” Khouri tells Zap2it. “But Jonathan Jackson is so talented and is such an incredible person that as the season went on it became really difficult for me to watch him play that character, and so I said, ‘Guys, we need to give him new territory. He’s too good, and I just don’t want everybody hating him.'”
As Season 1 progressed, Avery was dealt some harsh hands that knocked his character down a peg or two. “We started edging him into a different world where he had learned some lessons,” Khouri says. “So this season he is much more of a presence as a guy who’s made some bad choices for himself and learned some hard lessons. And he’s just a much cooler guy.”
Avery can thank his portrayer, Jackson, for the personality makeover in Season 2. “For me personally, Jonathan is such an incredibly wonderful person in life,” Khouri says. “A couple of our writers saw him perform at the Opry in Nashville one night and they called me and were like, ‘Oh my god, I know exactly what you mean. You’re right, he can’t be the jerk anymore.'”
Another lesson Khouri learned from Season 1 was that the audience was not as into the political story lines involving Teddy, Lamar, and Coleman as she and the rest of the “Nashville” creative team originally thought. “When we started the show we really wanted the Nashville political scene to be more of a character but people did not seem to really respond to that in the way that we had hoped,” Khouri says. “It was an election year when we started and by the time we got though it nobody wanted to hear anything about politics — Nashville, local, or otherwise. So we turned all those stories into personal stories.” Powers Boothe, the man behind the nefarious Lamar Wyatt, and Robert Ray Wisdom, who played Lamar and Teddy’s political rival/Deacon’s sponsor Coleman, both will not be back as series regulars for Season 2, though they will appear on a recurring basis.
As for the star-crossed couple at the center of “Nashville,” Khouri reveals that in the wake of Deacon’s alcohol binge and subsequent car accident with Rayna in the car, things will be more complicated for the two country singers than ever before. “We certainly wanted to find a way to recomplicate Rayna and Deacon,” Khouri says. “When we started earlier in the season with them, there was a lot of hope that this was something that could work, and I think we’ve left them in a much more complicated place than last season. It’s pretty hard to unring that bell. Watching them have to deal with the fallout from that is going to be a big part of the second season.”
“Nashville” Season 2 premieres Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.