Monday, May 16, 2016

One of the TV shows that Susanne and I used to like to watch was Nashville. The show had a nice mix of likeable characters, interesting new performers and the feeling that the actors actually liked each other. There were always plot lines that included some drama and a few characters who were necessarily dislikeable. But in general, it was a “feel good” show.

About two years ago everything started to change. The number of songs performed by the actors (they actually sang) dropped dramatically, and in its place, the characters were all given major problems to deal with. As a result of the plot lines, the “likeability” quotient of most of the performers began to drop dramatically.

By this year, the show had become a typical soap opera with over-wrought drama and almost no music.

Today I read that the show is being cancelled. This should be a surprise to no one. I had stopped taping it a few weeks ago because it just became too darn depressing. Writers too often forget that viewers often watch programs to escape the problems and burdens of the events they see every day on the news.

A show named Nashville should provide a look at country music and allow us to identify with a fictional world where, at least once in a while, things go right for the characters. The writers instead started to fall into the typical cycle of misery, duplicity, back-stabbing and tragedy that defines so many nameless offerings on television. They killed the likeability of the characters, the association with the city and, most importantly, they killed the music. For a series with the name Nashville there wasn’t much else to kill except the show.

As a writer of humor and poetry, I have always believed that it is useful to provide the reader with something that can lift their spirits, or at least leave them empathizing with the characters or the topic.

I feel sorry for the actors because they had put together a talented group of performers, but the writers and director ran their ship aground on the mud banks of the Cumberland River and the their paddle wheeler has sunk with all hands.

Perhaps a final question might be why Hollywood seems to do this so often. They seem to lose touch with their audience and change shows to fulfill other objectives. Comedies stop making us laugh and start preaching to us. Dramas seem to lose a sense of proportion and go way over the top or else get so involved in a single story plot that they lose track of what made them popular. Hollywood needs to get over themselves and stop thinking they are so much smarter than their audience that they can use the bait and switch on viewers to accomplish other objectives. 

Here's a little message for the people in southern California. We look to you for entertainment and once in a while hope that you will provide us with an intelligent show that is fun to watch. We have no illusions that you are smart because we are very familiar with most of the crap you put out there. But we hope that, "like the blind pig and the acorn", you will once in awhile stumble onto an interesting or different show. Please, when that happens, try not to rush out and screw it up. Nashville without music?  Send those people over to Chicago PD and let's move the show to Reno and feature poker strategy. 

Glenn K. Currie

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