9 Years Ago: ‘Nashville’ Debuts on ABC
Nashville seemed like a longshot when it debuted on ABC on Oct. 10, 2012 — nine years ago today — but the show defied all odds to become one of country music fans' favorite television shows of all time.
It's notoriously difficult to capture the true vibe of Nashville's music scene in films and on television, and a number of other productions had failed miserably. Created by Calli Khouri and with an outstanding soundtrack from T-Bone Burnett, Nashville accomplished the difficult task of balancing behind-the-scenes realism and an insider's view of Nashville's music scene with enough over-the-top soap opera drama to keep viewers hooked.
The show's pilot introduced viewers to Rayna Jaymes, a fading country superstar who is trying to find her place in Nashville's new commercial landscape, and Juliette Barnes, a superstar pop-country singer who becomes Rayna's antagonist. Other long-term characters include Deacon Claybourne, a troubled, alcoholic musician who has a complicated past with Rayna; Scarlett O'Connor, a timid young waitress who is trying to become a singer; Gunnar Scott, an aspiring musician; and Avery Barkley, an exceptionally talented but self-destructively arrogant young singer and guitarist.
Along with Lennon and Maisy Stella, who played Rayna Jaymes' daughters, those characters formed the nucleus of the show, which ABC canceled at the end of Season 4, in 2016, after a year of falling ratings. A massive, fan-driven write-in campaign saved the show, which moved to CMT and Hulu for its fifth season.
Connie Britton, who played Rayna Jaymes, departed the series in dramatic fashion during Season 5 when her character died in a car accident, and Nashville lasted one more season before leaving the airwaves for good in 2018.
The show became more than just a television program over the years, launching successful soundtracks, side careers in music for many of the cast members, successful concert tours and more. Nashville's already-booming tourism industry experienced a massive upswing during the run of the show, and Nashville lives in perpetuity via streaming on Hulu, where the series has proven very popular.