Last night’s episode of Nashville, “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” finally showed the very long evolution of Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere, in a light that makes her a more likable character.
For a long while, Juliette Barnes has been the antagonist, the bad girl we love to hate. At the same time, we’ve peered into her troubled and broken life, her drug-addicted mother, her penchant for choosing the wrong men, her desire to achieve success with her music. The way she’s dealt with all those issues hasn’t always endeared her to us.
The precipitating plot that drove this evolution of Juliette Barnes went like this. She said something that was video edited to put her in a bad light. The video went viral and her fans, her label, and everyone else turned against her. Concerts were cancelled, CD sales tanked. She was maligned by bad media.
In the midst of this media storm, she is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Her label insists that she use her moment on the stage accepting her award to apologize to everyone on the planet for being a terrible person.
Instead she writes a new song with Deacon (Charles Esten) that tells everyone on the planet they can shove it.
It’s a move that could wreck her career. As soon as she walks off the stage her label drops her. People with the power to move products decide to deny her shelf space in stores. Nevertheless, it was a great move from my point of view.
In past episodes, Juliette has struggled to be independent, to make the kind of music she wants, to direct her own life and career. She hasn’t done it well. She made a lot of bad decisions and alienated a lot of people. In all her efforts to grow up and take control of her own destiny she’s mis-stepped and manipulated in all the wrong ways.
Her statement with the song did two things. It proved her talent. It told everyone they had to take her as she is, that she had to be what she is and not something manufactured. Her refusal to cave to the demands of her label ultimately set her free. As far as picking the right man, she’s still working on that one, but a character can’t solve ALL her problems in one episode.
Her character arc can develop now in new, more positive ways.
Kudos to Hayden Panettiere for her willingness to play that character we all love to hate for two seasons. Kudos to writer Callie Khouri for the way she’s slowly moved Juliette being into a better, stronger person.
Photo by Mark Levine – © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies