It’s refreshing when a show isn’t afraid to give their characters actual development and growth. Case in point, this week’s episode of Nashville turned our preconceived notions of both Rayna and Juliette on their ears by presenting some interesting new sides to their characters. When the series began Rayna was painted as the saintly representation of country music at its best; devoted mother, loving wife and respected musician. Juliette, on the other hand, was the whiny little upstart, all blonde hair and overt sexuality with no respect for the musicians who paved her way. Over the course of the season we’ve seen the chinks in those facades; Rayna isn’t so perfect and Juliette isn’t so bad. This week, the roles were completely reversed.
Rayna’s bemused dismissals of Juliette used to be entertaining, but there is a difference between justified derision and just being a mean girl. While Juliette is prone to self-centered statements and childish pouting when she doesn’t get her way, she has more than proved herself as an artist to Rayna. They wrote “Wrong Song” together, are touring together, selling out stadiums together and going to #1 together, yet Rayna seems perfectly content to pretend Juliette doesn’t even exist. It’s understandable that Rayna doesn’t want to share the spotlight with someone she deems so far beneath her, but there is also something called professionalism that someone who’s supposed to be as old school and as classy as Rayna should understand.
Furthermore, up until now Rayna and Deacon’s relationship has been portrayed as a great love derailed by addiction. I’m not suggesting that Rayna should have waited through five rehab stints, especially since during the fifth she had another life to think about, (Side Note: We know Teddy is aware Deacon is Maddie’s father, but does Deacon know?) but their relationship is starting to look less like a great love and more like a pattern. While Rayna and Liam were ignoring Juliette (and the audience’s) presence, there was some really overt flirting going on. Added with Liam’s highly inappropriate remarks about Rayna’s marriage, it gives the impression that he believed more was, or would be, going on.
It could just be that Rayna doesn’t know how else to behave with a guitarist and partner because there was certainly no love lost when Rayna kicked Liam to the curb for lying to her. But just because there wasn’t an indiscretion doesn’t mean Rayna isn’t treating the other men in her life equally as callously. Left alone, Teddy has, once again, taken up the torch of raising their daughters while also running the city and not hooking up with Peggy, who let’s face it, is way more receptive than his actual wife. But when Teddy tries to discuss the future of their marriage all Rayna can muster is an “I don’t know. Look, a toy plane!” And with Deacon, who is already feeling pretty low, she decides to once again show up and explain to him why she can’t be with him. Her reasoning is understandable, but it also feels like rubbing salt in a wound to repeatedly remind him that she didn’t pick him.
Meanwhile, Juliette’s distaste for Rayna is logically explained through her (long overdue) heart to heart with her mother. We’ve always known Juliette craves acceptance and respect, two things Rayna has in spades, but it turns out Rayna has one more thing Juliette wants; her mother’s admiration. Jolene, the woman whose negligence has permanently scarred her daughter, is a huge Rayna Jaymes fan. I can just picture a little Juliette fending for herself with her mother passed out to Rayna’s latest number one. It undoubtedly left a sour taste. But with Jolene’s admittance that she believes her daughter is at least equal, if not greater, than Rayna Jaymes, she laid the first tiny stone in a bridge between herself and her daughter. It might even help towards repairing her relationship with Rayna… or not since her first move was to steal Deacon away for her own band. Oh well, we wouldn’t want her to grow too much.
Note: In no way am I trying to villainize Rayna or absolve Juliette, I am merely grateful that the show is willing to give its characters flaws and depth.