The wildly popular and frequently maddening American TV show Nashville — first airing on ABC then demoted to CMT — has finished its run after 124 shows. Which means one thing: the time for Hulu-and-chill binge sessions has just begun!
Why watch? To resurrect this crew of misfit country singers at various stages of their careers via the power of online streaming. See them barge into each others’ kitchens unannounced. And get into sudden fist fights, occasionally suffer random violence (or death) – or take long, meditative strolls at the Tennessee capital’s most Instagram-worthy sites. Then cap it all by monitoring the steady decline in music quality, punctuated by the single-most clumsy series finale in TV history.
We’re pretty sure you’ll end up getting swept away into The Nashvillegeist. (Note that fans, even when angry, are called “Nashies.”)
But to binge this show right, you’ll need help. So we’ve assembled this Nashville Watching Guide Tipsheet, including handy nicknames for key characters and drinking tips for team-play.
First we need to address the cow’s milk.
SO. Much. milk.
No TV show that we can think of has had a more prominent or consistent dependence on generic cow’s milk than Nashville. Milk is always near. Running through all six seasons, characters reach for milk, drink it whole, add it to coffee, clutch it by the carton, use it for mid-day cereal snacks. Yes, the dairy lobby is strong with this one.
#Hatewatching game tips: DRINK whenever you see a milk carton, AND/OR give yourself a point if you spot milk first. There are many chances. Always watch for it…
Sometimes the milk is front-and-center.
Sometimes it basks in golden light.
Sometimes it creeps up on you.
Sometimes it tries to hide behind cereal.
Sometimes OJ tries to distract you from the milk.
Sometimes it gets its own sporty milk-cam.
MEET THE key CHARACTERS
The actors try hard. Even when they’re asked to wear absurd hats. But the names for most of the characters were clearly wrong. We’ve corrected that.
“MUMBLES McGEE” (Scarlett)
We’ve long wondered if Clare Bowen, the charming Australian actress who plays Scarlett O’Connor, puts 12-16 marbles in her mouth before every shot – whether at a show or helping troubled youths with horses. Turns out, it’s just her thing. She mumbles. You be you, Scarlett/Clare.
Tendencies: Moping. Slurring syllables. Whining. Drinking cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Never calls or texts, just shows up at places.
Weird lapse: She bangs a British sleezeball in a hotel room for about 11 hours, breaking Emo’s heart and getting pregnant. Then thinks about marrying him.
#Hatewatching game tips: Drink if she completes a scene without lecturing someone.
It might not be kosher for Nashville hatewatchers to play favorites, but ours is definitely Emo, the correct name for Sam Palladio’s Gunnar Scott. The British actor plays the off-and-on again love partner for Mumbles, and her bandmate for much of the series. When they’re together, he mopes. When they’re apart, he mopes.
The funniest moment of the series comes after roomie “Gay Will Hunting” chides his songs as ‘emo,’ and Emo (with new frost-trips hairstyle) runs off, “I’m going to make a sandwich. Being this EMO makes me hungry.”
For the record, we’ve been calling him Emo long before Gay Will did.
Tendencies: Moping. Drinking or pouring cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Says “you know” to start half of his lines. Folds arms.
Weird lapse: Every few episodes, Emo flashes a “Boner-Grin” of out-of-place confidence or joy. Spotting The Emo Boner-Grin remains one of the show’s greatest rewards.
#Hatewatching game tips: Boner-Grin equals two shots. Folded-Arms equals one.
“DUD ADAMS” (Avery)
No offense, but actor Jonathan Jackson’s face appears magically perma-stuck in the infancy of a pre-beard. Odd glitches of hair appear in spots on his face, or ‘patches,’ usually before the character gives a shrug of exasperation or goes searching for Cultilocks in their oddly 1990s bachelor-pad home. We called him Patch Adams for several episodes before realizing the inescapable conclusion that the character Patch is simply a Dud.
Tendencies: Searching house for Cultilocks. Talking under his breath. Slight nods of disapproval. Drinking cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: He sighs before speaking. Staying with Cultilocks. (He clearly is meant to be with Mumbles.) Wearing black v-neck shirts.
Weird lapse: None. Like we said, Dud is a Dud.
#Hatewatching game tips: When he’s calling out for Cultilocks (usually at home), drink up or give yourself two points.
The diva of the show, Juliette Barnes-Barkley (played by Hayden Panettiere) is a rising star who is willing to steal, co-opt, back-stab to further her career. She nearly dies in a plane crash, then joins a cult, builds some homes, makes an album with an African American church choir that actually sounded good but flopped for no reason, and learns she was prostituted as a child by her mother. Then goes to Bolivia. Because that’s what happens on Nashville.
Tendencies: Back-stabbing. Stomping around. Pouring cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Every moment with Dud.
Weird lapse: Joining a cult.
#Hatewatching game tips: Drink or give yourself a point every time she seethes.
“GAY WILL HUNTING” (Will)
Will Lexington, played by actual musician Chris Carmack, wears cowboy hats sometimes. We love that Nashville has a major character that came out as gay on a country music TV show — and occasionally shows man-on-man sex scenes too. Also, we really love how Will mocks “Emo” for being emo.
Tendencies: Mocking his roommate, Emo. Pouring and drinking cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Dating the horrible head of the record company, then refusing to get over a horrible relationship.
Weird lapse: Taking steroids, then having a roid romp with a new gym buddy.
#Hatewatching game tips: When he laughs at Emo, you will drink / give yourself a point.
We love the temper tantrums of this recovering alcoholic dad, Deacon Claybourne, in all his flannel-and-denim glory. But the best moments are his moments of exasperation, as rendered by Chip Esten. Watch! And if it’s more than just a milk offense, he’ll often place an arm, or both, either directly over his head or just behind his head — thus his nickname.
Tendencies: Raising arms in the vicinity of his head in moments of trouble or frustration. Looking for cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Fake southern accent by this Pittsburgh actor.
Weird lapse: Eating all of Reneggy Sue’s ice cream during their sex-less, condom-free night on her living room floor.
#Hatewatching game tips: Down your shot when arms go up; if he punches someone make it two.
“RENEGGY SUE” (Jessie)
Arms-Over-Head’s late-series love interest (after the show kills off its lead character and needs a girlfriend for her grieving husband) is Jessie Caine — played by Kaitlin Doubleday, which is the only possible more fake-sounding name than Jessie Caine. Sparks don’t exactly reach the rafters in their slow-brew flirtations. And then after she escalates things, she changes her mind — she “renegs” it. When she suggests they have sex, neither have condoms. Arms-Over-Head suggests they get some, but she immediately changes her mind. “Or we could not have sex.” Then they’re on-again-off again and she either shows up with coffee or deftly rebuffs his advances.
Tendencies: Renegging. Complaining about ex husband. Making sandwiches. Pouring milk.
Most maddening moments: Awkwardly dropping off a care package for Mumble’s house, a person whom she doesn’t know, after Mumbles had a miscarriage.
Weird lapse: Singing. She sang once then never again even though she’s trying to make it as a singer.
#Hatewatching game tips: 180-degree plan-change equals a drink.
BRUNETTES & MINORITIES
Even though Tennessee has a diverse population, this show is all about the trials and lives of light-haired women and buff ‘corn-fed’ men … who else would drink that much cow’s milk?! So, when brunettes appear, or an African American love interest comes along, or a non-white friend from church drops by — be sure they’ll be marginalized, kicked off or killed outright.
#Hatewatching game tips: Whenever you see one get the boot, weep for America and take a drink.
Raynasplainer (Rayna James) The show’s lead Connie Britton is known for offering “inspirational quotes from the South” and seeming out of place on a stage or with a mic. Then she’s suddenly killed off after her daughters sing to her. Despite their grief, viewers are over it in about one minute.
Marsha Brady (Maddie Conrad) daughter of Raynasplainer & Arms-Over-Head. Fun fact: actor Lennon Stella is actual sisters with her on-screen sibling, “Jan Brady.” She ‘Miley Cyrus-es’ her way through the whole series, often sporting a doubtful resting face. Her songs with Jan Brady are often a musical highlight of the show.
Jan Brady (Daphne Conrad) Few notice it, but the younger sister is actually the heart-and-soul of the entire show. When she delivers a moral message, it comes with a Jan-style punch. We love you, Jan. (Disclaimer: We may or may not have actually called her “Runt” for the first few seasons.)
Jail-Ted (Teddy Conrad) Jan’s real dad, who’s briefly mayor then goes to prison.
Swan Dive (Jeff Fordham) The manager everyone despises inexplicably saves a seriously stoned Cultilocks from self-imposed death by an inexplicable kamikaze fall off a rooftop.
Actual Country (Luke Wheeler) He wears a cowboy hat (a surprising novelty on Nashville), and totally fits into his scrappier George Strait role.
Boy-Band Girl Purple-haired member of the Dud/Emo/Gay Will power band. Emo falls for her (brace yourself for Boner-Grin drinks!), but somehow she falls for a self-absorbed Dud.
The Goatee/Toupee Manager Situation It’s very hard keeping the two main managers straight. Rayna’s, who sobs on a sofa after she dies, has a goatee. Juliette’s manager, Bucky (seriously his name is Bucky), has the worst toupee we’ve seen on TV.
Lump Dud and Cultilocks’ kid appears drugged. She never speaks. If you hear a murmur from her, bathe yourself in alcohol, Nashies!