Can ‘Nashville’ Survive Without Rayna James?

Nashville has been one of my favorite shows for the past couple years and 4 seasons that it has been on. Just to give a little bit of background on the show for those who don’t know what it is about, it follows two famous country artists lives. One is Rayna James (played by Connie Britton), a mother of two with a complicated love life and the other is Juliette Barns (played by Hayden Panettiere), a young new comer that strives to be as famous as Rayna James and would do anything it takes to further her career. There are also smaller characters that the show has developed over time including Rayna’s family (daughters Maddie and Daphne and husband Deacon) and on and off again love interests Scarlett and Gunnar. Between seasons four and five, the show had a network change. Previously, it was on ABC but was cancelled. After the fans of the show rallied and demanded that it be picked back up, the rights were bought by CMT and the first half of season 5 as aired on that network.


The Death of Rayna James:

Recently, Connie Britton’s character Rayna James was killed off the show. Connie Britton wasn’t overly clear about her reason for leaving but said that it had to do mostly with the fact that she wanted to challenge herself creatively and open herself up to new opportunities. There seems to be a pattern of her doing this with other shows including American Horror Story and Friday Night Lights. Connie Britton said that she has full confidence that the show will continue to be successful without her but the fans aren’t as convinced, especially after fighting so hard to keep it going after season 4.

In the article above, author Jennifer Lind-Westbrook poses the question on every fans mind after one of the two main characters has left the show – can Nashville survive without Rayna James?

In the article she gives her opinions on what she thinks the show writers, directors, and producers should focus on going forward in order maintain the success of the show. She outlines four specific things:

  1. Move on from Rayna’s death quickly and put more focus on her immediate family characters in the show
  2. Have more music in the show
  3. Bring back Juliette’s old personality (recently her characters moral compass has been more on track since a near death experience)
  4. Start going more in depth in other character’s stories such as Scarlett’s and Gunnar’s romance

Although I do agree with some things she said I think that most of these things will just hurt the show. Rayna’s character was the guiding moral compass of the show and she provided support and advice to every character in show at some point or another. I think the recent change to Juliette’s personality was strategically done by the show creators in anticipation of Rayna’s departure and having her go back to her old ways would only hurt the show. They were trying to make Juliette’s previously not so nice character into someone that modeled the characteristics of Rayna. I think they need to bring some new characters in, preferably some bigger hollywood names, to maintain interest in the show instead of focus even more on the current cast. I think what would really keep viewers interested is if one of the new cast mates started going after Juliette’s career in the way she went after Rayna’s in the first couple season’s of the show. This would bring the show full circle and further develop the main character. However, only time will tell what will happen with Nashville on CMT.


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