Best TV Husbands of 2017

There are good men out there. These darlings are my pick of top TV husbands.

There are husbands on TV that will do more or less anything for their highly beloved wives, may it be experimenting with new sex-partners, committing a few murders here and there, persevering although knowing they are not “the one” or just relentlessly keep on loving, supporting and respecting. Here are a few good men I loved a little bit extra last year.

9. Sylvere, I Love Dick

Sylvere smal

Griffin Dunne in Amazon’s I Love Dick

Sylvere does not come off very good in the beginning as he gives younger, female colleagues way too lingering and admiring looks. But as the arrogance and the confidence is being replaced by awkwardness, unease and the feeling of being left out, when his wife is showing Dick a grotesque amount of attention, I feel more and more sympathy for him. He loves his wife and the story of this somewhat odd couple going through a crisis turns into something rather lovely.

8. Kyle, The Arrangement

Kyle West

Josh Henderson in E!’s The Arrangement

»This is not right.« Kyle may have done a deal with his to-be girlfriend about getting married – if you are a major movie star maybe that is the best way, at least according to his mentor.

But when said mentor/cult leader as well as media do everything to control the narrative of the lovebirds, Kyle has no problem jumping out if his pants and pose butt-naked to assure both them and his girlfriend that no one else decides which story is to be told about them but they themselves.

7. Avery, Nashville


Jonathan Jackson in CMT’s Nashville

Now I didn’t watch beyond episode 9 this season, so I don’t what happened to Avery and Juliette, but I do remember his loving, attentive caring of her after the plane crash even though she did her best to push him away.

How she screamed about how she did not want to be a chore, a burden and how he finally assured her this was what he wanted to do. And finally how he couldn’t stop talking about his feelings (how very unmanly of him) until both we and Juliette just wished he’d just stop and started SHOWING how he felt instead. Which he finally did thank god.

6. Len, Transparent


Rob Heubel in Amazon’s Transparent

”I do this for you.” Those are Len’s words when Sarah somewhat worried wonder if it’s okey if they break up with Lila, the young pre-school teacher Sarah met at the sex-addict meeting and decided to write a book with, before it all turned into some kind of relationship of three.

Now I’m sure their threesomes, dominated and directed by Sarah, was not all a chore for Len, but still he makes it quite clear that there’s a lot of things he will do for this woman, who first left him for another woman, then explored her sexuality elsewhere before she decided to come back to him.

5. Kyle, Easy


Michael Chernus in Netflix’ Easy 

»Kyle, you look surprised«, the therapist states when Kyle’s wife Andi blurts out that it’s time for the open marriage, time to have sex with other people. He is surprised for sure, but since he wants nothing but to please his wife he makes his own hesitant and awkward attempt to have sex as his wife goes on a date with a sexy colleague.

4. Ed, Big Little Lies


Adam Scott in HBO’s Big Little Lies

“The essence of a happy marriage – the ability to pretend” is the sad conclusion Ed makes when talking to his wife Madeleine of the lack of passion and that she actually doesn’t like him touching her.

Seeing how much attention she gives her ex-husband, the father of her oldest daughter, it’s not much wonder why he feels unappreciated. He knows, or that’s how he feels, that he is not her great love, if also he knew that she had an affair…

But Ed is a good guy. He is kind and he keeps on loving even if he doesn’t get that much back. He even sings Elvis for her, with the hope that she will really see him.

3. Philip, The Americans


Matthew Rhys in FX’ The Americans

”Do you want to make it official?” Philip and Elizabeth were never each other choice, their marriage is a product of the job. Both have others they were in love with, both have been forced to act in love.

The mission to spy on the US has been less important for Philip and he is hesitant of how much they should involve their daughter Paige. But despite of the differences in opinions, or maybe because of them, the love squiggled its way up the cracks between them and Philip’s proposal come as a total surprise and as an obvious given at the same time, as incredibly loving as it was.

2. Donnie, Orphan Black


Kristian Bruun in BBC America’s Orphan Black

Seriously, is there any more devoted husband then Donnie? He hides murders, buries bodies, sells drugs, takes on the mob and god knows what for his beloved wife Alison during the shows five seasons.

Yes, Donnie was once her ”handler”, but after that was revealed no man has so tirelessly supported, encouraged, reassured and also made a fool out of himself for his snoopy, driven and uptight wife as he has.

1. Joel, Santa Clarita Diet

JOel again

Timothy Olyphant in Netflix’ Santa Clarita Diet

What do you do when your beloved wife goes through a change and suddenly feels much more alive, loses all filters and can only feed on human meat?

Never have I seen a husband so eagerly get out of his own way to support and adjust to his wife’s new way of living. Joel struggles industriously to find the balance between what he is prepared to do and what not, at the same time as he feels more and more inadequate and lost.

But he continues to stretch his bounds of what he finds acceptable just to ensure the marriage with the woman he loves will work. He wants nothing but to continue his support for her, even if murdering for food is not something he ever will get completely comfortable with.

Joel is definitely my number one best husband of 2017.

Also read my list of Top 10 TV shows 2017: My Top 10 (or so) TV shows of 2017


My Favourite Nashville: Three elevator rides, a statement and a kiss

In I’ve Been Down That Road Before (1×12), it’s all about the desire and fear to change, and the desire and fear to give in, for Juliette and Rayna respectively, in this episode that could just as well be called Three Rides and a Kiss.

Some episodes, in all their richness, can best be described by the the longest texts, but others are just better depicted in other ways. I’ve Been Down That Road Before, in season 1, is that kind of epic episode where pictures and quotes speak for themselves. But let’s get the less important stuff out of the way first.

Scarlett threw out Avery thinking he had been cheating with his new agent, Marilyn. She has no money and finally asks Gunnar to be her roommate. Avery who of course didn’t start sleeping with Marilyn until after Scarlett threw him out, is quite unhappy with that arrangement, breaks it off with her and is on a quest to make nice with Scarlett. But he is too cocky, trying to brag about his success and it all ends in a fight with Gunnar, which for sure does not make Scarlett and Gunnar less friendly with each other.

Teddy and Rayna has discussed their marriage and Teddy doesn’t know what to do anymore to make it better. Rayna has promised that she is not meeting with Deacon again and going on tour will give them both time to think. Teddy though kind of stops thinking when he runs into his old friend Peggy after he hears that Deacon is actually on the tour.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on those notorious days in Chicago.

Deacon makes a surprise entrance on the plain to Chicago and Juliette can’t but gloat about having Deacon in her band and notices that Rayna doesn’t look at her once on the flight to Chicago. Rayna knows exactly how to turn it around though to convince Juliette that she is neither pissed or jealous.

Rayna and Juliette
“I’m amazed you had nothing better to do on that plain ride than just to look over at me to see if I was looking at you”

It takes a lot of people to make a good show, Juliette then explains to Deacon when they arrive at the hotel.

Deacon and Juliette
“Really? Johnny Cash only needed three.”

Rayna next somewhat accidentally steps into the elevator Deacon is already on and the awkwardness just shuts the tiny room up.

Rayna and Deacon in the elevator
Teddy is not happy to hear that Deacon is on the tour, when he and Rayna are taking time apart to think about their marriage.

Teddy on the phone
“You know Rayna, I get it. You didn’t know anything about Deacon, you didn’t plan any of this. Life is a bitch sometimes and you are processing. Did we cover it all?”

Rayna is fabulous on stage in the evening performing one of her signature songs, Already Gone.

Rayna on the stage
Juliette follows up with her glitzy show, belting it out in I’m a Girl!

Juliette on the stage
But after Deacon’s eye-rolling looks at her, she takes his words to heart, suddenly thinking her show has too much glitter and stuff. Glenn is NOT supportive when she somewhat accusingly asks him if she ever will be able to change.

Juliette and Glenn back stage
“A left turn now could be an exit out to obscurity.”

Rayna can’t really get over that Deacon joined Juliette’s tour, uses an excuse to get him over to talk and pretends to casually ask him what he is doing. Deacon has a straight answer for her.

Rayna and Deacon after the show
“I play guitar for people who pay me money. That’s what I do.”

Juliette might be confident being that diva, the big star on stage, but when it comes to being personal, her insecurities pops up. To be yourself is scary, cause what if she isn’t liked? Juliette wants to be liked, but she’ll settle for adored. Only with Deacon does she dare to voice her fears.

Deaocn and Juliette in her suite
“What if I decide to walk away from being that girl and no one comes with me?”

Deacon has become a good friend to Juliette after that disastrous beginning of theirs, listening, giving her support and advise. He knows what Rayna would have done, stay true to herself, and no, he replies, he was not always there to help her evolve.

Deacon and Juliette in her suite
“There’s thinking about doing something, and there’s just doing it.”

Rayna just can’t get over that Deacon is there and keeps letting him hear it next time they end up in the elevator together. Also because it bugs her that he refuses to talk to her.

Rayna and Deacon in the elevator
“Never thought I’d see the day you’d be singing Boys and Buses with Juliette Barnes day in and day out, but you know, life never ceases to amaze.”

Well, Juliette took Deacon’s advise and starts her next show with a slow, emotional song and he follows her lead.

Juliette and Deacon on the stage
Glenn is not any happier and lets Deacon know that in all possible, rude ways, which Deacon continuously refutes until he’s kind of fed up.

Glenn telling Deacon to stay in his lane
“Tell me how you really feel, Glenn?”

Deacon decides it’s time to stop thinking himself and start doing. I guess we can thank Glenn for what happens in that third elevator ride, which Deacon rushes to get on.

Rayna and Deacon in the elevator kissing
“Rayna! I’m done talking”

Sometimes words are just not the only way to explain a feeling.

Rayna in the elevator
And sometimes the unexpected turns up outside the door.

Rayna and Teddy
Well, even if the words of First Aid Kit are streaming out in hotel room, the elevator, the corridor and penthouse,

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

it was not the time for Rayna and Deacon to sing together again just yet.

The episode was written by Meredith Lavender and Marcie Ulin and directed by Stephen Cragg.

Funny note! Stephen Cragg has also directed one of my favourite ER episodes, Bloodline, from season 13.

Read my other Favourite Nashville posts here: My Favourite Nashville

If you like ER, my Abby and Luka post are here: ER’s Abby and Luka

My Favourite Nashville: The strengths and the weaknesses of Scarlett and Juliette

Your Wild Life’s Gonna Get You Down (2×18) is an amazing episode with Scarlett and Juliette’s  playing power games. Who’s on top shifts every minute, bu at the end the respect and admiration for each other have inevitably started to grow.

Scarlett has always been special to me, much because I relate to her introverted ways and her eagerness to mediate and please. In this episode from season 2, Your Wild Life’s Gonna Get You Down, she utters my absolute favourite line of her, “I’m the kind of artist that prefers to whisper”, making it a moment and an episode telling us a whole lot about her. When rewatching this episode I realised it is also a brilliant episode in regards to Juliette.

I have always seen Scarlett as someone confident in who she is as a person, but someone with less confidence when it comes to her work. In this episode she finds the courage to stop pleasing, ignore what people tell her to do and for once make her own artistic decision. The episode brings Juliette’s confidence and insecurities to light as well and the way she is juxtaposed with Scarlett tells a real fascinating story about them both.

Scarlett on stage on Juliette's tour
I had a plan to review my ten or so favourite Nashville episode in order of appearance, but since I have been thinking about Scarlett lately, I wanted to watch this episode instead and I thought, what the heck, I will write about them in whatever order that comes to mind. And being such a revealing Scarlett episode, I decided to include a note on her and season 5 at the end

The opposites of Scarlett and Juliette

Scarlett and Juliette in a way look somewhat alike on the surface. Physically they are both young, tiny creatures with long, blond hair and when it comes to work they are both struggling artist at the moment, even though on different levels and in different ways. Remember how Juliette fell from the good graces by sleeping with a married man, then seemingly sneer at God and now need to win her audience back.

Where Scarlett has the great self-esteem and bad self-confidence as mentioned above, Juliette is the opposite.

Their personalities are very different though and I like how that is not overly obvious in their looks. Where Scarlett has the great self-esteem and bad self-confidence as mentioned above, Juliette is the opposite. Most of the time she has the greatest confidence in her capabilities as an artist (now that she knows she can write songs) and putting on extravagant shows, but her self-esteem is another matter, not when it comes to her sexual attraction, but for sure when it comes to actual love and relationships, where her insecurities quickly rises to the surface.

Juliette, Avery and Rayna preparing the Juliette's tour
The episode begins with Rayna, Bucky and Scarlett meeting with Glenn, Juliette and Avery before the addition of Scarlett to Juliettes troubled tour. Juliette doesn’t care the tiniest bit that she crashed the launch party of Rayna’s new single to do her own announcements of joining Highway 65 and therefor destroying the marketing of Rayna’s new song. Juliette is super-confident about her tour, which she put money in herself, but when it comes to Avery coming along to produce Scarlett’s album during the course of it, her self-confidence takes a dive. She immediate feels the need to “claim” Avery in front of everyone by continuing Avery’s ”I’ll go where I’m needed” with ”and wanted” with a smug smile.

As much as Scarlett loves the pure singing part and putting together songs with Avery, she hates the world that surrounds the creative part. She complains about the label heads who doesn’t give a damn and tries to shove her into “some cookie kind of mold, I will never fit into”. As the introvert she is, she hates the new hotels every night, the strange beds she has to sleep in and the industry parties she has to attend.

Scarlett challenging Juliette
The tour continues with Avery and Scarlett working on the album all day leaving Juliette jealous, insinuating and edgy, which of course for Juliette translates into making Scarlett miserable. It doesn’t matter that she according to Glenn performs her best show ever and having all her fans raving again, off stage all she does is worrying about Avery and his whereabouts with Scarlett. Avery gets that she is jealous, it’s impossible not to, but still he is not really getting how disturbing the whole thing is to Juliette. First he tells Scarlett, “I can’t play in her band, when I have an album to produce” and then he completely tone-deafly skips an after-show party to continue the work with her.

Everyone is out of the loop

Leaving the tour behind for a moment and visiting the other characters, the common theme for them seems to be that they are all out of the loop.

The price for being the most out of the loop goes to Layla.

Deacon was not kept in the loop when it comes to the parenting of Maddie, which he frustratingly informs Teddy when he is told that Maddie was not allowed to come to him for guitar lessons as she was grounded. ”You can feel free to give me parenting advice when you’ve actually raised a child  for 14 years”, Teddy states after a short argument. ”Yeah, I was kept out of that loop too”, Deacon wryly replies.

Teddy and Deacon fighting about Maddie
Deacon is also totally out of the loop when it comes to Megan’s inability to resist the clean-shaven Teddy, who she just had to get it on with in his car. This makes regretful Megan extra clingy and commanding Deacon’s attention when he is back from his tour, which he has no problem giving to her though.

Rayna is out of the loop too, or at least in denial, of Maddie’s need to explore herself, her will, her identity, with the help of her music. Music is not a hobby and Deacon is her dad, she needs to say these things out loud as to make them real and for her it is not something that can only be kept within the family. So while Rayna is gushing over how good social media is for getting her music out as an independent, at same time as she is forbidding all tweeting and selfies in their private life, Maddie is planning her own way to get her music, her ambitions and identity known. Maddie is a teenager with her own thoughts and ideas that cannot be controlled as easily anymore and Rayna must consider the art of guidance instead.

Rayna and Maddie arguing over social media presence
Luke has been totally out of the loop regarding Deacon being Maddies father, he realises when seeing the video Maddie was posting online in the name of Maddie Claybourne. This makes him utterly jealous, a feeling he cannot hide, and Rayna finds herself in the middle spending the night mediating between the three rather frustrated men in her life.

The price for being the most out of the loop goes to Layla. Will decides to take to extreme measures denying or at least refusing to admit to anyone that he is a gay cowboy in the straight country world. While most of the artists in Nashville are putting on a show, musical and theatrical, on stage this episode – Juliette with Scarlett, Luke pretending he is having fun with Will and Deacon, Maddie and Daphne with Luke’s son Colt (ok they are back stage) –  and in every other episode, Will is the one putting on a formidable show off stage as well, choosing to propose to Layla when Jeff is getting way to close to the truth in spite of Gunnar clever cover for him. And actually he does find a stage of sorts to do it on as well.

Layla and Will getting married
By the end of the episodes Deacon has punched a wall instead of Teddy and doesn’t understand Why. Megan. Still. Is. In. His. House. while throwing things in a bag to get away and the only one still really out of the loop is poor Layla happily going through with the impromptu wedding with Will.

The courageousness of Scarlett and Juliette

That said, this is very much an episode about Scarlett and Juliette and there are some scenes that makes me enjoy it so. The young women may have opposite personality traits, but they actually understand each other real well. They are playing a bit of a game here and it’s hard to know who is on top. You would think that Scarlett is the weak one and Juliette the strong, but that is not true, both of them are both. Scarlett can be pushed around, but only for so long, she knows what she wants and she is not afraid to say it. Juliette on her hand lets her insecurities about Scarlett and Avery blur her business decisions by not aknowledging Scarlett as the fine artist she really is.

Just like Scarlett confronts her fears on stage, Juliette confronts Avery with hers.

In their first interaction back stage there is no doubt that Scarlett is the strong one and Juliette the weak, Scarlett just has better self-esteem and Juliette gets so worked up and defensive. Scarlett is not afraid to put forward her views, it’s just that she usually gives in after a while. In this case she wants to test her new song Falling, but Juliette says there is no time to test a low-key ballad when they need an energetic show that makes reviewers write about it. ”It’s my set” Scarlett replies and ”your set yesterday wasn’t reviewed either”, she frankly continues, which makes Juliette threaten to fire her.

Scarlett at her piano
Inspired by this exchange Scarlett finds the courage to do it her own way and this is of course where my favourite Scarlett line is pronounced: “Miss Juliette Barnes has asked me to come out here and make a whole lot of noise for you, but I’m the kind of artist who prefers to whisper.” Not only has she reached the point of where she doesn’t care about pleasing anymore, she also makes it clear that she knows exactly who she is and who she wants to be on stage. Adding “this one’s for you, Juliette” shows us just how well she also gets Juliette, that she is jealous because giving her heart away, like she has to Avery, makes her scared and vulnerable.

I just can’t seem to help myself
I wear my heart for all to see
Maybe you’re that someone else
Another hopeless case like me

The one who always falls in love too fast
The one who thinks that this time love will last

Falling, falling, I can’t keep myself from falling
Follow, follow, follow me down, down
down, down, down

And right there Juliette can’t escape the facts of Scarlett’s accomplished songwriting, the beautiful, catchy piano tune and her captivating voice. The anger of Scarlett daring to defy her quickly turns into admiration, even though she will not admit it right away.

Scarlett debating with Juliette
First we see another great scene between the two where Juliette starts off being really cocky and bossy: ”Dedicating the song to me. You got a lot of nerve!” ”It’s something I thought you would have done”, Scarlett replies, but Juliette won’t have it: “Well, let’s set the record straight. You are not me. You have not cut any record, let alone sold any.” It’s like she needs to distance herself from Scarlett, not wanting to admit her talents and that they are also alike, because that’s scary. Jealousy and rivalry makes her continue their argument and the powerplay is on again.

Scarlett begs Juliette to fire her. She hates it, she says, the cookie-molding, the hotels, the parties as I wrote before. She loves the 20 minutes on stage, but she hates the other 23 hours and he wants nothing but Juliette to fire her so she fails and can go home to where she is comfortable. Around here something changes. Scarlett sounds desperate and determined at the same time and Juliette knows what it feels like being pushed to conform. She also realises that while giving in to Scarlett might feel like a win-win situation for both of them at first, it actually is a lose-lose, and Juliette doesn’t like to lose. It’s probably driven partly by selfishness not giving in to Scarlett, but mostly there is an acknowledgement that it is Scarlett’s strength that should be acknowledged and encouraged, not her weakness.

Juliette answering Scarlett
Juliette’s one-eighty turn in regards to Scarlett is my second favourite thing of this episode. ”No such luck” is her resolute answer to Scarlett request to be fired. Scarlett will just have to stay on the tour, because she has ”it”. It took courage to admit that, but Juliette knows when she sees something good and when push comes to shove she will not let her insecurities impact her work. Scarlett is a great artist and she adds a lot of value to her tour. Juliette might be competitive and jealous, but she also appreciates great talent when she sees it.

Business beats personal insecurity and having the courage to appreciate Scarlett gives Juliette the courage to talk to Avery about her fears. Just like Scarlett confronts her fears on stage, Juliette confronts Avery with hers, that she is scared when it comes to them, that she is afraid to lose him. When having admitted to Avery that she was jealous and having been reassured by Avery, it’s like Juliette allows to see Scarlett as a person, someone she actually admires a little bit and not only as a threat to her private happiness. Maybe this is what makes her take a closer look at Scarlett that evening at the party, the reason she becomes the person, not Avery, that suspects that something is not quite right with Scarlett, or that at least that she is high.

Juliette being sorry
Juliette and Scarlett, different in some ways, but still with and ability to understand each other. Their initial roles are restored at the end of the evening when Juliette is telling Scarlett what to do. Scarlett is the quiet introvert: “I’m not much for parties”. Juliette is the boss telling her what she needs to do: “You are now.” But some respect and admiration for each other have inevitably started to grow.

The episode is written by David Gould and directed by Julie Hébert.

Epilogue – Scarlett and Nashville season 5

The reason I stopped watching Nashville after nine episodes of season 5 was not mainly because of Rayna, even if I liked nothing about that either, but because of Scarlett.

Scarlett struggled to be confident as an artist and having the courage to do it her way, not letting anyone dictate to her how to do it. In this episode in season 2 she kind of figured it out, that she did not need to be what other people told her and  knew she “preferred to whisper” on stage and not to shout. Unfortunately her mother came back and her path as an artist came to a stop for a while. But she came back and Scarlett was never insecure about who she was and this is what I wrote about her in the Nashville Forever character defence article:

Growing up with an abusive mother can leave all sorts of scars, and for Scarlett it meant bad self-confidence and also I believe a fear of conflicts. Scarlett doesn’t shout and fight; she is the mediator, the one keeping up the good spirits in a relationship, keeping her own emotions inside while making sure everyone else is happy.

She probably learnt this very well as a child defusing bad situations to avoid upsetting her mother. This kind of behavior becomes a habit but Scarlett does it only to a point. Enough is enough, and then she politely tells people so! Cause one thing her upbringing did not give her was low self-esteem. Scarlett actually has great self-esteem. She feels secure being herself…If only people would let her! 

Back to season 5 and the introduction of Damien. Scarlett did not need an arrogant video director to tell her who she really was, while her boyfriend and her mentor, if not cheered on, but let her know this was something she had to endure and probably could learn something from. Scarlett already knew who she was and she did not suffer from any bad self-esteem. What she did lack was a bit of self-confidence in her work as an artist. She needed to hear she was allowed to be an artist on her own terms, as her own self, not needing to transform to someone else to please the masses. But no one told her that and really, this was something she figured out already on her own on the mini-break from being an artist, by the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3.

Scarlett in the video shoot season 5
Then getting up on stage probably always means that you in some way put on another persona, but that is exactly where she might have needed encouragement, to find that persona she felt comfortable with, not being pushed to be someone else entirely. And the fact that the show had Scarlett realising that her true self was actually being an extroverted sex kitten was just plain absurd and misogynist in so many ways. Like there is only one way to be sexy, that all women want to be sexy in that exakt way and if you are not like that you are repressing your true self.

Sorry, Nashville on CMT! I couldn’t watch that!

This was my second Favourite Nashville post. Here is the first:
My Favourite Nashville: I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You) (1×02)

Did you like ER? Want to revisit? Read my posts about Abby and Luka!
ER’s Abby and Luka, part 1: Luka’s story through 10 episodes
ER’s Abby and Luka, part 2: Abby’s story through 10 episodes

My Favourite Nashville: When Rayna, Juliette and Scarlett just can’t help it

I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You) (1×02) tells the story of the Nashville women, who all three — Rayna, Juliette and Scarlett — are struggling in different ways to be true and to be brave.

In one month it will be five years since Nashville premiered on ABC and four and a half since it started airing in Sweden and got me hooked completely. Season 5 has ended, without me in the audience I’m afraid, and I feel the urge to revisit the show and share my thoughts on some of my favourite episodes, the stories that got me mesmerised and the scenes that took my breath away.

First up is episode 2 of season 1 and Nashville does a great job in continuing to establish the main characters, who they really are and want to be, and what crossroads they are at, professionally and in life general. By giving us an insight in their backgrounds and letting us in to some emotional turmoil we start seeing the depth and complexity of their personalities. Among those things are the intimacy still remaining between Rayna and Deacon, what some of the struggles are for Scarlett and the many faces of Juliette. It’s just brilliantly setting the scene.

Rayna is at a stop

Rayna starts off being stuck in traffic due to Juliette’s video shoot, which perfectly gives the picture of where Rayna is in her career at the moment and as it turns out, in her personal life. She has come to a stop in her music career while Juliette’s seems to be souring, and she is not really sure where to turn to get back on track again.

Rayna in the car with the kids
As we learned in episode one, Raynas arena shows are not selling and her label, Edgehill, will not support her album unless she goes on tour with Juliette. Watty White, her friend and mentor, suggests she does a scaled-down acoustic tour with Deacon, but it’s one thing doing cosy one-on-one performances when you are young and madly in love, and quite another when you’re past 40, married to someone else and have children. She does not feel very comfortable with the idea, and neither does her husband, Teddy.

Rayna likes being in control and suddenly she is just not. At all.

I love how Nashville is the master of details and in a second gives us a glimpse of just how well Rayna and Deacon know each other. Late for the meeting with Watty and Rayna, Deacon is sweeping in and nonchalantly picking food from Rayna’s plate before spitting out his “What did I miss?” It is a very intimate gesture, I think, something you would only do when you know someone really well, and it becomes clear that these two have shared many intimate meals where picking food from each other’s plates probably was part of the foreplay.

Deacon stealing food
Teddy is not quite satisfied with where he is at either, as the back-seat, not so successful husband to his famous wife, so he has decided to run for mayor. This triggers a background check which forces Rayna to answer probing, uncomfortable questions about her past and we learn the details of the sad and unfortunate history between her and Deacon, one filled with alcohol abuse and rehab visits. Teddy is far from happy letting his wife go on tour with him, but in a marriage you have to compromise. He wants to run for mayor and she rather does a tour with Deacon than opens up for Juliette Barnes, so that is that and it could work, right?

Seeing Deacon hanging out with Juliette does not sit that well with Rayna. It is one thing having the record label’s undivided support anymore, but having the always dependable Deacon slipping away with her biggest rival is just too much. Rayna likes being in control and suddenly she is just not. At all. When she and Deacon finally meets to discuss the tour, the disappointment and some vaguely disguised feelings of jealousy have Rayna (for once, we realise later) unable to keep her calm. And before the episode is over Rayna’s marriage has also come to a stop, even if Rayna will try all kinds of manoeuvres to convince herself that it isn’t so.

Scarlett is trying to please

Scarlett and Gunnar get an offer to do a 3-song demo with Watty and suddenly Scarlett needs to decide if she really wants to branch into the music business or not, which she contemplates in a series of scenes during the episode.

Scarlett and Avery
Scarlett writes poems and has no real desire to sing and pen songs, or? She did look quite comfortable singing when Gunnar lured her up on stage at the end of the pilot episode, but no, even if Avery would support the idea, she wants to be with him and support him as planned. Even though both these things might be true, it becomes obvious that Scarlett is someone who avoids creating conflicts or the risk of hurting someone else.

[Scarlett’s] struggles with balancing between pleasing others and pleasing herself as well as understanding that there actually is a difference becomes very evident.

She is very sensitive to the mood of those she is with. In the scene where she is planning to tell Avery about the demo says it clearly. She spots in a fraction of a second that Avery is not happy, immediately changes the plan and lets the conversation be about Avery. In the scene later with Gunnar, who puts her a bit on the spot regarding her decision not to go forward with the demo, she claims it to be about herself and what she wants, even though what actually comes out still sounds like it’s all about Avery. Her struggles with balancing between pleasing others and pleasing herself as well as with understanding that there actually is a difference becomes very evident in this episode.

Juliette is playing roles

Juliette overhears some negative comments about the age of her fan base and she decides she wants to do music for adults, starting now. That decision will take her through a journey of emotions during this one episode that seriously would be enough for the whole season. The episode quite brilliantly gives us an insight in just how Juliette Barnes works, how her self-confidence together with her insecurities impact her actions, and how she quite flexibly takes on whatever role she thinks will suit her goals for the moment.

Juliettes video shoot
She starts being very determined and confident. Juliette doesn’t want to do stupid music videos for 12 year-old fans, she wants to be taken seriously. ”I’m doing my part, you need to do yours” she tells her manager, Glenn. He should give Deacon a business offer he will accept and she will help by giving Deacon a personal offer he cannot resist. Having Deacon in her band on is a way of giving her music credibility and writing songs with him will be a way of showing she is a real artist. Getting Deacon into her bed will help her getting him in her band, or so she thinks, disclosing just where her self-confidence is at.

[Juliette] is very aware of that she is playing roles… but somewhere it becomes difficult to see, even for her, where the role ends and the genuine Juliette begins.

Juliette lures Deacon away from Rayna and takes him to her countryside property to write some music and to seduce him. Juliette is very confident in the persuasive powers of her sexual attraction, but she is also letting her guard down trying to show Deacon another side of herself. She is very aware of that she is playing roles. ”I’m whoever my manager is thinking will sell the most records”, she tells Deacon and adds that she has another side too, but somewhere here it becomes difficult to see, even for her, where the roles end and the genuine Juliette begins.

Juliette and Deacon by the lake
She wants to show him the land and her love for that, as well as her genuine intentions for songwriting, but she still can’t help trying to impress him with rare gifts and flirting with him to get him into her bed, or in this case, the water. When they finally get to the songwriting part, she is too insecure to appreciate his admiration for her songwriting; it’s much easier for her to believe in his attraction to her. During these scenes she shifts between being confident, flirty, vulnerable and modest so effortlessly that it is difficult to know when she is playing a role and when she is honest, and probably she doesn’t even know herself anymore which is what, it’s all just means to get what she wants.

Back home Juliette is getting quite confused! She doesn’t get why Deacon is not thanking her for the guitar she gave him. She wants that validation from him and she just doesn’t understand why she won’t get it. And yeah, Deacon is not the most honest guy here, looking for distraction in all the wrong places as he chooses to ignore the context of Juliette’s “offering”. He takes the sex, flattered as he is, probably without any intention of giving her what he damn well knows she is really after, him on her tour.

Juliette at Deacons houseMaybe Juliette gets that she doesn’t get it. Later when she shows up at his house to give him the demo of the song, she is back being the sincere girl: ”Something about you wants me to grow up”. And this time we know it’s real. She looks so happy at the Bluebird later, like she has figured things out. But the happiness turns to one big bowl of hurt when Deacon asks Rayna to sing with him on stage instead of her. Even if it was an extra bonus that her actions towards Deacon would spite Rayna, it was never her reason for doing it. Juliette wants first of all to be a respected artist, she wants to be (like) Rayna, although she would probably never admit it.

The Bluebird is where it concludes

The episode ends superbly with one of best performances on the show, Rayna and Deacon’s No One Will Ever Love You at the Bluebird Café. You can literally see those buried emotions being released and coming alive during the song. And while it tells the story about Rayna and Deacon, it manages to impact the feelings and thoughts of Scarlett and Juliette as well, and I love how Nashville always manages to make the closing song relate to the other characters.

No one could watch without being affected by the genuine feeling of that performance, and having Watty point out that it could be Scarlett and Gunnar up there, could not but help Scarlett to make the decision to go ahead with the demo. And she looks pleased having done so.

Rayna and Deacon at the BluebirdJuliette is singing the words to Rayna and Deacons song, because she knows and loves the song, or maybe she wishes she had written a song like that, or she wishes she had someone loving her like that (now realising the extent of Deacons feelings for Rayna), or just all of the above. For Juliette the episode ends with that pain of being rejected by Deacon where it hurts most, as an artist, even after she was trying to show him her true self.

It was the moment she realised that her marriage was over.

“No one will ever love you like I do.” Deacon eyes could not more obviously show just how much he loves Rayna and never was there a more heartbroken face than Rayna’s in the car with Deacon after their duet. This very short scene is my favourite from the episode. There in the car she realises that her marriage is over and her ”I wish we hadn’t done that song” is when she admits it, if only for a second, before she goes home to hug Teddy and tell him that she loves him.

Rayna and Deacon in the car
We will see this repeating in later episodes, both the same reaction and similar scenes. The moment her emotions gets too real and familiar, when the reminders of the painful past gets too loud, she turns 180 degrees and runs in the opposite direction, because it is only that or giving in. Rayna is the not the one to give in, that would be to be weak and losing control, and Rayna wants to be in control. “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)” and it’s obvious that Deacon can’t help it, even Juliette points it out to him. He should focus on the present, not the past, she tells him. Rayna can’t help it either, but that does not mean she has to acknowledge it.

The episode is written by Callie Khouri and directed by R.J. Cutler.

More posts about My Favourite Nashville here

My TV week in Review – Week 18

How to follow up that Nashville post, I really don’t know. But I do tweet about TV every day, so why not put those thoughts into the blog as well at the end (or as it turned out, in the beginning) of the week. The blog is called Tora on TV and Things after all.

Last TV week started with a new episode of Veep (4×03). I’m just so fascinated by these narcissistic and completely unapologetic characters, never ever considering anyone elses feelings.

There is one thing though I don’t enjoy and that is the bullying of Jonah! This is somehow supposed to be funny, the bullying of the nerd, and it seems to be a thing in movies in TV. Never got that! Still don’t! Even if he is annoying, or actually because he is annoying, it is just not funny. So I got more than a little worried when Jonah now also is the victim of sexual harassment. Is this another thing we should actually laugh about, even if it is not funny? The thing is, I actually couldn’t help laughing, but at the same time I was disturbed. Luckily Veep helped me out here, or actually Dan, the man, himself, who  for once gave Jonah a few words of support, acknowledging that it was sexual harassment, and that is was wrong. Those words of support did not stop Jonah to take a bit of revenge. 1 to Jonah, 0 to Dan.

images-4On Nashville (3×20) it’s getting obvious that Juliette is not handling motherhood well, and it is not only that she is ambitious and insecure, this is more, and I’m actually really eager to see how this story will continue. What else? Oh, those flashbacks? Eeew! Both Rayna and Deacon looked awful and history was re-written. I think I will forget these scenes ever happened and remember only how Deacon walks into the Bluebird and sees Rayna sing while still a teenager. I prefer that version. Otherwise I loved how Deacon within seconds of letting Juliette in, in a state of panic, is spitting out his burning question: “When do girls start having sex?”

I still enjoy The Good Wife (6×20) but please tell me how many times can Alicia, Carey and Diane stab each other in the back, become best friends and support each other no matter what, then stab each other again… Why do they even want to work with each other any more?

mad-men-season-7-joan1Two things about Mad Men (7×10). Did they very suddenly figure out they should give the red head a storyline. She is seldom in it anymore, I don’t even remember her name, so little do we see of her. Joan. Her name is Joan, and she is fabulous! And I don’t mind she struggling with motherhood and being a single mum. But this guy just suddenly showing up, and she is ready to give up on her kid?!?! I read somewhere that Nashville’s storyline were to slow and they need to speed things up, but I love slow burning storylines, and things building up, makes it all the more real and rewarding. So Mad Men, learn a bit from Nashville will you, this was just way to quick! And the second thing. Glen. Wow, did he grow up or what? Betty, no!

wc7w35uxy2jg-600x338I caught up on two episodes of Orphan Black (3×02 and 3×03). On the sweet side we were having incredibly hot Michiel Huisman, taking a break from Game of Thrones, trying to setup house with Sarah and Kira, but that lasted of course only for a second or so. Cause on the not so sweet side it was just getting way gory with dead clones, brain surgery, water stress tests and chopped fingers.

nashville-308-synopsisFriday and Saturday was spent rewatching Nashville with my 10 year-old. My 14 year-old already watched, she just couldn’t wait for us. Eight episodes all’n’all (3X05 to 3×12) and the biggest revelation was to realize how good the Luke and Rayna story really is. The one about finding balance between love, family, business, pleasure, individualism and partnership. It is brilliant and just so much easier to enjoy now that we could concentrate on the story instead of only wondering what the hell Rayna was thinking. (Still wondering, but I can at least appreciate the story this time. Pretending it is a parallell storyline of some sort.) And yeah, Jeff Fordham is hot!

Speaking of, or thinking about her at least, of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, I did revisit one of my favourite Seinfeld episodes this week, ”The Caddy”, from season 7. It includes the most memorable Elaine quote in my mind, when she explains to Brenda Strong’s Sue Ellen that the bra present she gave actually is a bra, and not a top! And the lawyer that Kramer is hiring to sue Sue Ellen when she is causing chaos and crashes walking around New York with only a bra (under a jacket though): ”She is flouting society’s conventions. It’s totally inappropriate, it’s lewd, salacious, outrageous.” Still fabulous satire! You need to watch! Netflix.

What was your favourite TV moments this week?

How a show called Nashville changed my life!

The last week of October, on autumn school break, I brought my husband and two daughters, 9 and 13 years old, to Nashville.  We had the most fabulous vacation, quite unexpected, and I thought I’d tell you how we ended up there, and how a TV show can impact lives, my life! 

IMG_0965 I’ve always been a TV and movie buff, but I must admit, the number of hours spent in front of a TV or in a movie theater had seriously decreased the last couple of years. I lost a bit of interest in movies, and although TV was getting better and better (and more and more), since the TV and only laptop always seemed to be occupied by the kids, I found myself watching less and less.

So it was really by accident, in January 2013, I saw a TV panel discuss new shows coming the Swedes way. One in particular caught my interest, since it had Connie Britton in it, whom I loved from the fantastic Texas football drama Friday Night Lights. Hayden Panettiere, who was the most adorable, unbreakable cheerleader in Heroes, and Eric Close, the most handsome guy from Without a Trace, was also in it. That it was a drama, set in Nashville and told the story of the world of country music, seemed just like so much fun.

I set the recording to the digital box for the first episode, but then forgot about it (or maybe the TV was occupied) and forgot to record the next episode. Then after a couple of weeks I noticed that TV3 would air the first five episodes in a row on Saturday afternoon. After episode two I was hooked. After episode four I was obsessed. The show was great in many ways, one of those was the fantastic music performances, but the reason for the obsession was a couple called Rayna and Deacon. If you have seen it, you know what I mean.

Rayna and Deacon

The next episode couldn’t air soon enough and I started searching internet to find out more about the show. In US it had premiered in October 2012, and they were already on episode 12, and I was watching YouTube clips, reading reviews and spoilers, as well as joining the Facebook fandom! In May when spending a long weekend at our internetless summerhouse, I was so desperate rewatching scenes from the latest episode, I quickly volunteered to go grocery shopping, and was then sitting in the parking lot outside the store watching scenes on my phone over and over again. Yes.

After weeks of trying to calm down after a crazy season finale, when home alone, I decided to try this thing called twitter. I created my account, followed the Nashville creator, the actors and other things related and then spent weeks feeling ridiculous with zero followers. Then boom, three Nashville fan accounts followed me back, and I dared to start! Twitter fandom is fabulous, just start writing a few tweets, comments and answers and things will come to you. Six months later I had twitter friends from Israel, Netherlands, UK, Argentina and of course the US, with whom I was discussing and doing serious fangirling, sharing our love of Nashville, but sometimes also other topics.

Rayna and Juliette So why is this show so special. Of course it is not only Rayna and Deacon, although the chemistry between the actors, Connie Britton and Charles Esten, is unreal. (They are also super hot and they are in their late 40’s!!!) It is the fantastic music, written by local songwriters, and always fitting the stories of the different characters so well. The characters, ranging from young diva Juliette (played by Panettiere), the accidental artist, Scarlett, and wannabe songwriter Gunnar, to big country music stars like Rayna and Luke, might seem stereotyped at first, but no, they rise above that becoming all so full-fledged, complex and relatable – annoying, adorable and flawed – all at the same time. It is just a very well-written show taking place in a truly authentic music environment.

No wonder I got inspired to go to Nashville, to see where all the scenes were filmed, and to experience the music and atmosphere of Nashville. I had a somewhat hard time to convince my family to go, or as my 13yo daughter told me. ”I’m not even that into music!” Well, maybe they wouldn’t enjoy it, so I kind of gave up on the idea, but then I saw a tweet from the Ryman Auditorium (who everyone who has seen the show know is the Mother Church of Country music) that First Aid Kit, our favorite Swedish band, would play on October 29, which was the exact week of the school break! It was a sign! Tickets to that show, and tickets for the trip, was bought quicker than anyone could say – country music! (The First Aid Kit song ‘Emmylou’ is featured in ep 1×12. Yep, after the elevator scene!)

IMG_0999I was nervous for sure about bringing the family on an expensive vacation overseas, just because I happen to love a TV show, not knowing if they would enjoy it at all. But I needn’t have worried. Everyone loved it! We were walking along downtown Broadway, stopping at every boot shop and debating with our 9yo daughter if she should have boots with heals or not (she got one pair of each). We went to see an NHL hockey game (yes, this was a concession I made and the Predators lost unfortunately), visited Nashville Zoo (kids loved it, the clouded leopards were the favorites), breakfast at the famous Loveless Café (blueberry pancakes of course) and the Country Music Hall of Fame, where the kids got the task to find different instruments, the oldest, the weirdest etc. And yes, there was one weirder and more innovative than the other. Fantastic really! My appreciation for country musicians just exploded.

We did the the backstage tour at the Ryman Auditorium, took the ABC Nashville bus tour to understand where different scenes took place including a visit to the famous Bluebird Café, a day trip up in the mountains, visiting the fantastic Dutch Maid Bakery & Café and nearby Foster Falls, and of course a fair share of shopping. Music is everywhere and anytime in Nashville, at 11am a Saturday morning and late on weekdays. On top of some nice lunch and dinner music performances, we saw two fantastic shows, the First Aid Kit at the Ryman of course, and then finishing off the week at the legendary Grand Ole Opry, listening to among others, Vince Gill!

If you’re living in Sweden and have not watched Nashville I don’t blame you. It started out on Mondays 8pm on TV3 with very little advertising. Since nobody watched it, they thought better to move it to Saturday afternoons, not telling anyone of course, and then to Saturday mornings. You didn’t catch it then? No? Well finally, they put it on their streaming service and Nashville is now available on Viaplay, all 53 episodes. Season 3 is now on winter break, but will be back on US TV February 4. That hopefully means that Viaplay will have it available for streaming no more than one week later. So a little bit of time for y’all Swedish guys and gals to catch up on the first two and half seasons.

Not all TV critics have understood how good Nashville is yet, they see it as soap opera, and a soap opera cannot be that good, can it? Well, it can, and one critic who does get it is editor-in-chief, Kjell Häglund, who is one of not so many people in Sweden having discovered Nashville. He also happens to appreciate it, a lot! When naming the best TV drama of 2014 he put Nashville on top, above True Detective. Just like me and many fans, he sees just how very well made this music drama is by creator Callie Khouri and her team.


So you obviously know by now that I am obsessed, but what other affects has this show had on the family. Well, husband walks around in cowboy boots, shirts and sometimes also in a nice Stetson. Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Girl is on repeat on Spotify and so is the Dixie Chicks. Kids are constantly belting out songs from the show. Me, I have these fabulous fellow fans that I chat with more or less every day. I’ve started listen to Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and loads of other great country music. I’ve also started to write a little, something I always wanted, as a guest writing fan for the fabulous Nashville Forever blog, and I’m going back to Nashville soon, cause it is just such an inspiring place to be! And yes, I have a new favorite shirt!