Up until now, “Nashville” has been able to walk the very fine line between drama and soap opera (minus the whole Season 1 finale car crash, of course). But on Wednesday (Feb. 5), the ABC southern series officially cemented its status as a soap.
Sure, the drama was always present in copious amounts, but as mayor of Nashville Teddy Conrad (Eric Close) watches his ex-con, ex-father-in-law Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe) drop to the ground in front of him with his second (!) heart attack and does nothing while the man dies right in front of his eyes as revenge for Lamar orchestrating Teddy’s wife’s murder, it can’t be denied any more. “Nashville” is a soap opera.
Now, it’s not like that’s a horrible thing. Soap operas are entertaining with their over-the-top drama and are a great distraction from everyday life — which is really all TV is. But what “Nashville” loses as a series by gaining the soap opera label is complete suspension of disbelief. Viewers no longer see the show as realistic or believable. And that has negative effects on the story lines that were breaking new ground and needed to be told in a realistic way.
Stories like Will’s (Chris Carmack) struggle with his sexuality in an unforgiving industry like the country music business. With his thoughts of suicide firmly in the past, he’s starting to accept himself for who he really is, albeit only in private. One step forward and all that, right?
But Will’s friendship with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) is helping him to finally be okay with being gay. It’s still a long ways off where he’ll actually come out (seeing as how he just got his ex-lover fired from Edgehill in an effort to avoid his feelings) but by singing the song Gunnar wrote for Will about Will’s situation, he’s clearly coming around to being honest about himself — someday.
With “Nashville’s” new status as a soap, Will’s journey loses some of its gravity, and that’s a real shame. His story will still be compelling to watch, and we’ll still be rooting for him to come to terms with who he really is, but it won’t be as effective.
What do you think of “Nashville’s” latest dramatic cliffhanger? Do you agree that the series out-soaped its own Season 1 ending, or do you still think it’s not a full on soap opera?
“Nashville” returns on Wednesday, February 26 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.