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There is a scene early on in the first episode of country music drama Nashville when star-on-the-slide Rayna James (Connie Britton) meets her possible nemesis, rising starlet Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). In a lesser show the scene would have instantly descended into a catfight; in Nashville a few snide remarks are exchanged before Juliette walks off leaving a half-amused, impressed-despite-herself Rayna to remark: "That girl has 500 miles of nerve."
It is a nice line, perfectly delivered, and it illustrates what makes Nashville so unusual: its leading characters may not like each other, but they have a sense of respect. This is no campy country retread of A Star Is Born, but rather the subtle and involving tale of two professional and successful women.
"It was important to me that this wasn't a soap opera," says Callie Khouri, the show's writer, who is best-known for her Oscar-winning screenplay for Thelma & Louise. "This is an adult drama about many aspects of women's lives and it needs to feel real."
It is also that rare thing, an openly feminist drama in which the male characters, while well drawn, are very much in the back seat. Both Rayna and Juliette are driven by the desire for financial and career freedom, and the show's main theme is not so much their conflict as their individual struggles to keep control of their careers. Both have a complicated parental relationship (Rayna with her politician father, Juliette with her drug-addicted mother) and both are aware of the importance of independence in work and at home. It is all a long way from Alexis and Krystal doing battle in the lily pond in Dynasty, or the women of Desperate Housewives facing off over baked goods.
The L.A. Complex (2012)
Much better than you'd expect !
Currently on IMDb, the L.A. Complex holds 3.8/10 stars. Which is absolutely ludicrous.
The only way I can imagine it having this rating is a bunch of people that, without actually watching an episode, saw the premise (which makes you think of Melrose Place) and automatically dismissed it as trash. However the distinction people seem to miss is that the characters here aren't rich and glamorous. They're dreamers (living in a shabby Complex "the Lux") who work hard at their craft and struggle with money. In fact one of the characters has to resort to living in her car.
Also, it's a lot more realistic than Melrose Place (something I was surprised by)
At first, I didn't see much potential. But the pilot was captivating, making the characters likable and not just simple clichés. It was zany and dramatic, with good direction and writing from Martin Gero (Bored to Death, Stargate) and some generally good acting ranging from mediocre to pretty great (i.e. Jewel Staite). Somebody said "the pilot bursts with energy". And I could not agree more. The pace and rhythm was excellent for a first episode and I can't wait to see more.
I can't really say too much about the characters so far. I almost instantly liked Abby, Alicia, Raquel and Connor. Nick is a tad too dumb but not a total waste and Tariq is unfortunately flat (so far).
It's no award winner (Teen Choice, sure .. Prime time Emmy, no). But it is surprisingly refreshing and top shelf for what it is.