Nashville: Hayden Panettiere Evolves in a Good Way

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

3 Top Shows From the Fall TV Season

What if you picked the top 3 shows from the fall season that you were the most excited about, the most eager to see, and most wanted to recommend and talk about? That’s the question I asked myself. Here is my answer.

Last Tango in Halifax

Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in Last Tango in Halifax
Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in Last Tango in Halifax

Choice number 1, and an all time favorite, is Last Tango in Halifax. This BBC series was shown in the U.S. on PBS.org, where you can still watch all six episodes of season 1.

Last Tango in Halifax is built around Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid). They were in love as teens, and probably should have married but did not because of an interesting plot twist. Sixty years later they find each other again via Facebook. They realize they are still in love and decide to get married. Their story by itself is warm and wonderful and a real treat.

We get more story than just an adventurous Alan and Celia from Last Tango in Halifax, however. The children and grandchildren of these two charming, Facebook using elders get into the mix.

Celia’s daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) is headmistress of a school. She’s brilliant and snotty and sarcastic and positively luminous. Her husband of 18 years (Tony Gardner) recently ran off with another woman. In his absence, Caroline began a relationship with another teacher at her school, a woman named Kate (Nina Sosanya). When the series opens, Caroline has yet to tell anyone in her family that she’s seeing a woman. Her coming out affects each person differently and causes mayhem in several episodes. Caroline, her two sons, and Celia live in a big house with a cottage for Celia. As the season begins, Caroline’s husband arrives and wants to come back home.

Alan’s daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker) is a farmer in Halifax. She’s been a widow for 10 years and runs the farm on her own. Alan and Gillian’s teen aged son live on the farm with her. She builds rock walls, drives tractors, replaces clutches and generally is the perfect self-sufficient woman. Well, except for her habit of choosing inappropriate sex partners like 20 year old boy toys of questionable character who are already engaged to someone else. Gillian’s sexual choices cause mayhem in every episode.

The love stories of this extended group of northern England’s most engaging characters are riveting and often run parallel as everyone in both families gets a second chance at love. The best part? They are already filming season 2.

Nashville

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville
Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville. Image from ABC TV.

Give me music and I’ll love you. My favorite episode of Grey’s Anatomy? The musical one. My favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The musical one. I love Glee and Smash (is that even still on?) and I love Nashville.

I’m also pretty darn big on Connie Britton, and she’s the star of this drama, playing country music legend Rayna Jaymes. Connie Britton isn’t a great singer, but she’s good enough. Hayden Panettiere (who is a very good singer) plays Juliette Barnes, a young country star who is trying to unseat Rayna from her throne as the queen of country. There is plenty of  musical talent on this show from many other characters. A special favorite is Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett O’Connor, and possesses a wonderful voice. Lots of guys with guitars and big hats fill out the singing contingent. Rayna’s family is into politics so there’s political drama along with all the music industry goings-on. Rayna and Juliette both have rather messy love lives, further adding to the weekly drama.

I love the music, I love the characters (even Juliette, who we are supposed to hate) and I love the soapy melodrama of Nashville.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast.
Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast. Image ABC TV

I am so not the target demographic for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I love it anyway. I mostly love it because it reflects Joss Whedon’s sensibility about what makes a good story. That means that the gender balance is perfection, the women are as powerful and smart as the men and no concept is too ridiculous a stretch of science fiction to entertain.

I happen to believe that we need more geeky female role models for young girls (who are part of the target demographic for this show). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a female jet pilot warrior commando, a female scientist, and a female hacker. Role models everywhere.

These are the 3 shows I get the most excited about seeing each week from this year’s fall TV season. What are your three?

NOTE: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.

Dishing About this Week’s Season Openers

All the season openers for the week have aired now. Let’s talk about how they did.

The two that I thought did the best job starting the new season off with a bang were Castle and Bones.

Stana Katic and Nathan Fillian in Castle
Stana Katic and Nathan Fillian in Castle

Castle jumped right out of the gate with action, conflict and new situations. Beckett is busy in Washington D.C. in a new job and the newly engaged couple are missing each other. Castle can’t keep from meddling in her cases and trying to keep their relationship exactly like it was before. Alexis comes home with a boyfriend in tow – a boyfriend who makes a mess in the kitchen cooking vegan steaks out of hunks of papaya. The episode was fast, fun, and gave us a glimpse into where the season is headed with Beckett in D.C. and Castle in NYC.

Yes, Bones can be formulaic. However, this week was hilarious, with Bones and Booth going undercover as a couple of Jersey shore types to solve a murder at a couples retreat. In other storylines, Angela wants to quit working at the Jeffersonian, and Sweets is having a crisis of his own about his career path. Camille has been targeted by a recurring bad guy who is messing with her identity, credit, and finances. We had a fun plot line to get us going and ongoing problems for future episodes. Perfection.

And the Others Are . . .

Connie Britton and Lennon Stella in Nashville
Connie Britton and Lennon Stella in Nashville

Much as I love Nashville, it got off to a slow start, mainly because Rayna spent the majority of the episode in a coma. Connie Britton is the soul of this show, and we simply cannot have her lying in a bed doing nothing. Juliette released a new album while pretending to be concerned about Rayna’s condition, Scarlett quit her job as a waitress at the BlueBird to go record an album on Rayna’s new record label, Gunnar might be growing up a bit, Teddy’s girlfriend is lying to him about being pregnant, and Deacon is blaming himself for every bad thing that ever happened on the face of the earth. Deacon is caught in one of the most grandiose shame spirals ever – much credit to Charles Esten for playing it so powerfully. Rayna finally woke up at the end of the episode which means I’m really looking forward to next week.

Taylor Kinney in Chicago Fire
Taylor Kinney in Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire was a bit same-old, same-old. The plot mainly revolved around Taylor Kinney’s character Severide. An arsonist is out to get Severide with personal attacks. Renée is home from Paris, pregnant and wanting Severide to be her baby daddy. Good grief, why does everyone want Severide for their baby daddy? Shay, who hasn’t managed to get pregnant yet herself, points out to Severide that the math on Renée’s due date doesn’t add up. Man, what a week Severide is having. I know Severide had high hopes for Renée – heaven knows they were sexy together – but I think being busy shooting people with a rifle on a rooftop in Person of Interest puts her in the she’s just not that into you category. The question is, what reason will the writers dream up for him to use to dump her. Arithmetic?

Speaking of Person of Interest, the dream pairing Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker didn’t have any scenes together this week. Sarah Shahi was shooting people from a rooftop and not interested in finding a baby daddy.  Amy Acker was being mysterious while having conversations with a shrink. I’m looking forward to seeing where her story arc takes us.

The Grey’s Marathon

Ellen Pompeo in Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy charged into its 10th season with a two-hour opener. My first thought was how cute Tina Majorino looked with her short hair. She’s my favorite of the new doctors, along with Gaius Charles, who always reminds me of Friday Night Lights, which always makes me happy. All that cute and happy screeched to a halt when Shane sent Heather to look for Richard who’s been lying electrocuted in a puddle of water ever since the end of last season. Yep, Heather steps in the water and gets electrocuted. Even Derek and his magical brain surgery skills cannot save her. The rest of the first-year interns bond over Heather’s death and their daunting assignment to tell her mother stories about what a great person she was. Tina, I’m gonna miss you.

Yang and Bailey manage to save Richard while arguing about how to do it for 2 hours.

In other parts of the Grey’s universe, Callie is hurt and angry at Arizona. They fight and cry for 2 hours. One light moment in the Callie and Arizona crisis comes when Karev advises Arizona to apologize to Callie by saying, “Sorry I’m such a slut.”

Christina and Owen break up again, but they keep having sex because they want to create a perfect last-time-we-ever-had-sex to remember.

Meredith has a new baby named Bailey and some further medical complication which keeps her in her bed. Her hospital room is the calm eye of the storm where everyone goes from time to time to hold the baby and have a quiet moment.

Lots of other stuff happened: Kepner decides who she actually loves this week, Karev remains a chick magnet, and lots of people need heroic medical help. Hang on, Grey’s is underway for a 10th year.

New TV season shows I can’t wait to see

The summer shows are fun and I love quite a few of them, but I’m eager for the new seasons of some old favorites. Here’s what I’m looking forward to. What about you?

Lost Girl

Season 4 can’t get here soon enough for me. It airs first in Canada on Showcase beginning in November. Then there’s an agonizing wait for the U.S. showings on SyFy. At the end of season 3, Bo was off somewhere unknown meeting her father – maybe. Dyson and Tamsin disappeared in a puff of black smoke when their truck went over a cliff. Lauren was in a science lab creating Fae from humans and nobody knew where she went after everyone else escaped. Kenzi was driving a hot car with Bruce beside her. Trick had gone to Scotland with his lady love. And where the heck was Hale? Obviously the beginning of season 4 requires explaining where everyone has been and how they all get back together.

Guest stars that have been mentioned for season 4 include George Takei (from Star Trek), Mia Kirshner (from The L Word), and Ali Liebert (from Bomb Girls). If the guest stars are any indication, things should be fun on Lost Girl.

Here’s a bit of a teaser for season 4. Lost Girl season 4 is currently filming in Toronto.

House of Cards

House of Cards was Netflix first attempt at original programming and it was superb! (I can’t wait for season 2 of Netflix’s other great series, Orange is the New Black, either.) House of Cards won’t show up until sometime in the spring of 2014, but it is definitely worth the wait if it maintains the quality it had in season 1.

This political drama felt completely real. Or if not real, at least valid and true. Stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara were especially good, but the cast was large and there were many compelling performances.

Netflix released this trailer for season 2, which is currently filming in the Baltimore area.

Nashville

Nashville season 2 begins in September 25 on ABC, less than a month away. I love anything with singing (Glee, Smash, Nashville – I’ll watch ’em all.) People we don’t normally think of as musicians are leading the cast of this show and doing a really fine job as Nashville singing stars: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Charles Esten in particular. Clare Bowen is my favorite in terms of singing. She plays Scarlett, a folky type who reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris.

A theme of the show has been the conflict between young and old country music, personified by Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton. They get forced together in ways they don’t want and are very different. Both have confused personal lives and troubled love lives. A troubled love life leads to the finale of season 1, which was a disastrous car wreck.

I don’t know if you were a fan of Friday Night Lights (if you weren’t, you should have been) but there is just something completely wonderful about Connie Britton. She’s fabulous. I’m so glad we get to see her in another great series – with SINGING.

Here’s a teaser for season 2.

Grey’s Anatomy

Season 10. Can you believe it? We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy since Shonda Rhimes only had one show on TV. They announced recently that Sandra Oh is leaving the show. What will Meredith do without her person?

The new season begins in September with a 2 part opening episode. At the end of season 9, Arizona and Callie were in danger of breaking up, Richard was possibly electrocuted, Meredith was pregnant – the usual Grey’s drama. Over the years Grey’s has had its wins and losses, people have come and gone, story lines have succeeded and failed. But it’s always been engaging and I keep going back.

I couldn’t find an actual preview video for season 10, but three of the cast members do talk about season 10 in this video.

The Good Wife

I say that I want to see the new season of The Good Wife with some trepidation. Season 4 wasn’t good. They lost their way a bit. There were fabulous guest stars, but those guest stars got too much of the screen time, there were too many court room scenes, Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) story was just dropped, and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) can’t figure out what the holy hell she’s doing. I think Alicia is fascinating in her own guarded and self-contained way. However, the queen of self-contained and guarded is Kalinda. She is the most interesting character in The Good Wife. If we don’t see more of her in season 5, I think it’s going to be the end for me and The Good Wife.

When season 4 ended, Alicia was leaving Lockhart Gardner to start a new firm with Cary. That will add some drama to the relationships we already have going on the show. We don’t know where Kalinda will end up – I sincerely hope it’s with Alicia and Cary, but there haven’t been any clues.

The new season starts in September. Here’s a teaser. It seems to acknowledge that the show went off the rails a bit in season 4 with its claims to be back.

Scandal

Scandal, like House of Cards, has a ring of truth about politics and Washington that makes it fascinating. This Shonda Rhimes series begins in September with season 3.

I could talk about Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn and the other excellent cast members. They deserve the attention. Instead, I want to make a big fuss over Guillermo Díaz.

Guillermo Díaz has been around a while. You may remember him from Mercy or Weeds. There are currently 78 titles on his filmography page at IMDB, so I know you’ve seen him before in more than one thing. But the job he’s doing as Huck on Scandal is phenomenally outstanding. He should have had an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor, but he didn’t get one. As a defender of justice I’m here to announce that Guillermo Díaz is doing amazing work on Scandal and he should get a million awards for acting.

Now that I’m finished with my Guillermo Díaz rant, I can get back to the bigger picture on Scandal, which is the steely and powerful Olivia Pope and her Machiavellian schemes to control situations for people in Washington who screw up, including the President. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

This promo video is more about Kerry Washington’s Emmy nom than season 3, but it’s the only thing available right now.

I haven’t even mentioned The Walking Dead or How I Met Your Mother, which is on its last season, or Elementary, or Castle or a whole lot of other good shows. Which of your favorites are you most eager to see?

Guillermo Diaz image from The Jasmine Brand.

The 2013 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress

The 2013 Emmy Nominations were announced. The noms I most care about were in the Outstanding Lead Actress category.  Here are the nominees.

  • Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates in Bates Motel
  • Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland
  • Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in House of Cards
  • Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men
  • Connie Britton as Rayna James in Nashville
  • Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal

What a great list. I love all these actresses and all these performances and all these shows.

Well, I can’t stand Mad Men. I lived through the 50s once – I don’t need to suffer all that patriarchy again. But I loved Elizabeth Moss in Top of the Lake so I’m happy she was nominated for that, too.

Claire Danes, Connie Britton, Kerry Washington – I lurve them to bits. And a big Hurrah for Kerry Washington for letting herself be filmed with wet hair in the shower with Tony Goldwin and for being the first African American woman nominated in this category in years. I hope she wins.

tatiana maslany
Tatiana Maslany

But, really TV academy people, Emmy nomination people, where the hell is Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black? She really should be on that list. She doesn’t have to win, but cripes, she should have been nominated.

She really should.

Like REALLY should.

Are you happy with the Emmy nominations? What’s your particular favorite category of nominees?

If you’d like to see a complete list of all the women nominated in every category, check out Looking at the 2013 Emmy Nominated Women at Women and Hollywood.

Connie Britton Photo credit: EyesOnFire89 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA