My friends consider me a serious person, but even serious people can have guilty pleasures. For me, it’s the wildly popular television show Nashville, which has been slowly growing in popularity for the last two years. Yes, I’ll admit, it’s “soap-operish” so the viewer needs to buckle themselves into their sofas and prepare for a rolicsome ride—secrets, sex, betrayals—typical Hollywood conflict. It also boasts fabulous County music—not the old-fashioned Johnny Cash/Waylon Jennings variety but hip pop culture tunes that are quickly downloaded from Itunes after each episode.
But what astounds me most about Nashville are the characters on this series and how they’re portrayed. Almost all of them are multi-faceted, possessing equal measures of good and bad qualities. In other words, they resemble real people, and that’s the real draw of this show for me.
Take Juliette Barnes, played by the luscious Hayden Panettiere, the archrival country singer who the audience hated all first season because she represented the new and upcoming country music scene and threatened the survival of Rayna James, the more established county music singer, played by the adorably sexy Connie Britton, the heroine of the series.
Juliette Barnes was bad. She seduced Rayna’s ex-lover Deacon Clayborne (Charles Esten) who for the last fifteen years or so was still pining over Rayna, at the exact moment when the audience was still hoping that Rayna and Deacon would get back together. Juliette seemingly abandoned and rejected her own mother. She treated her manager badly. And yet we knew she’d suffered a terrible childhood that was yet to be revealed. Cliché? Yes, but what worked so well is that when Season Two rolled around, somehow Juliette managed to redeem herself. She became the recipient of undeserved misfortune—tons of it—and then when she tried to grow musically out of her bubble gum image, the county music establishment rejected her. We saw another side of Juliette.
Now, I and I’m sure the entire audience finds themselves fascinated with her character because she is so real. She is both wonderfully good and wickedly bad. We rejoice in her portrayal because we feel the pressure is off.
Characters don’t have to be perfect.
As a writer, I watch with envy how Juliette moves across the screen.
Flawed characters are always more fun to write and more interesting to watch on the screen and read in a story.