Last night, ABC’s Nashville aired in what is now considered as the final episode. However, it’s no surprise that we as fans of the show are hoping that very soon, we can refer to this as a “season” finale rather than “series.”
I’ll preface this to say that I’ve written something similar to this back on September 25, the day after the season 4 premiere. That blog post is titled, “Why You Should Start Watching ABC’s Nashville If You Haven’t Started Already.” (https://pplscrt79.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/why-you-should-start-watching-abcs-nashville-if-you-havent-started-already-Nashville/). However, I feel there’s a bit of a need to reiterate a few things, along with adding something I haven’t mentioned to a lot of folks out there.
I am from Baltimore City. I’m in the Army now and stationed in Texas, but up until my 18th birthday, Baltimore is where I was born and raised. I’m not talking outskirts or suburbs. I mean inner city. What you see on television and movies, the programs about troubled kids, poverty, you name it; that’s how I spent most of my childhood.
No one could have convinced me back then that I would ever grow up and be this attached to a show centered around country music and people. No way in hell. Country music may have a slightly larger following back in Baltimore now, but it wasn’t anything near that before. I didn’t even know of a single country music radio station until I was a teenager and as far as I knew, that was the only one we had.
Like many kids from inner cities, we laughed at country…everything. Yes, I did seriously think that country folks walked around in tight jeans, wearing cowboy hats and boots, saying “YEEEEEE-HAWWWW!” every five minutes. I didn’t even think to try to listen to country music. Oh, sure…Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” grabbed me pretty good when I first heard it on television, but I didn’t dare let anyone know that. No way. A black kid listening to Dolly Parton? I may as well have put a target on my back, went to the neighborhood kids and said, “Hey…you can chase me down this alley and beat me up now.”
However, once I joined the Army in 1997, I eventually made my way to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, which is approximately 50 or so miles from the city of Nashville. The first time I went to the city, I absolutely loved it. It was a world I really hadn’t seen before. Yes, a lot of the stuff we made fun of was there, but there was just something, I don’t know…comforting about being there.
The people were so friendly. The atmosphere was great. I quickly became a sucker for the accents. It was wonderful to see such a love for music and just the culture in general was something I honestly never wanted to part from.
Fast forward to 2012. By this time, my wife (who I met while stationed at Fort Campbell) and I already decided that we would move to Nashville upon retiring from the Army in the next few years. The decision was made for one, because we both absolutely love the city, but also because Nashville falls closely between where we are both from. I, of course, from Baltimore and she being from Clarinda, Iowa.
When we saw ABC’s first promo for Nashville, it was no question. My wife and I looked at each other and I said, “Oh…we HAVE to watch this!” While my wife agreed, she teased me at first by saying, “You sure that redhead on the show has nothing to do with it?” to which I replied, “What redhead?! I didn’t notice any gorgeous redhead!” She said, “I never said the word ‘gorgeous’.”
A few nights on the couch later, I made sure that we DVR’d the first episode and the rest is history. Four seasons later, we are sadly (or maybe not so much, if we’re lucky) bidding farewell to a show we have fallen in love with. As much as I loved the city of Nashville before, this show has made me love it even more. My wife and I visit all the time and we absolutely hate leaving. Neither of us can wait until we’ve finished our time in the Army and move there for good.
Anyway, what exactly has this show meant to this city boy? Along with all I mentioned above, something else much more profound.
I am an aspiring screenwriter. I did mention this before and many of the fans of the show likely read that post, so many of you already knew that. But shortly after the show began is when I really started to dive into this.
Next to my wife and two children, there is nothing in the world I love more than writing. Nashville is a show I not only watched a lot, but I also began to look at it from a writer’s perspective. Being that we as writers have to also write spec scripts of shows currently on the air, Nashville is the show I chose to do that with and I absolutely loved doing it. I wrote my own version of a season 3 “premiere” about two weeks before the actual premiere. It was great to work on my craft for one thing, but I also wanted to see how closely I could predict what would really happen. I was pretty close with a lot of what I wrote.
Because of my love for writing and the show, I didn’t mind spending those weeks writing this spec “episode” a few years ago. Many may think that was a waste of time, but I didn’t. It now only gave me a chance to again, work on my craft as a writer, but also to practice it with something I love…which brings me to something else I decided to do later that many would probably think was just as crazy, if not more.
Around this time last year, one morning, as I was in the gym, I went to Connie Britton’s Twitter page (after seeing the other actors talk about concerts they’d be participating in, I knew Connie usually talks about movies she’d be in, so I wanted to check that out). I noticed that on April 2nd, she posted a picture with co-star Charles Esten with the caption, “Spinoff: When Deacon and Rayna get their own sitcom.”
A little after seeing that, yes, I did the ridiculous. A “Rayna-Deacon” sitcom was my very next project. My title is “Ray-Dea-Oh.”
I spent the next few weeks studying and writing the first episode of this “sitcom.” Now from day one, I knew that I don’t own the show or the characters. So this would go absolutely nowhere. So why would I bother doing it still?
I am a big fan of Callie Khouri and I absolutely love her work. I recently watched Thelma and Louise (yes, for the first time, shame on me) and I found a draft of the script (not sure if it was the final draft, but it was very close to what I saw) and I read it as I watched the movie. I learned so much in doing this. This is a large part in why I wanted to do this. This may not make a ton of sense to people, but largely as a tribute to her in creating this amazing show, I wanted to do something as my show of “appreciation” for it, if that makes any sense.
What can I say. We are writers can be very weird creatures. And since I know for certain it won’t go anywhere, there’s no real point of keeping it a “secret” anymore. Not that work from an unknown writer would make much difference anyway.
From last season until now, I’ve changed my version several times just to keep things current with the show. Again, many may feel this was wasted time and I don’t blame you. But I also wrote this in hopes that someone would be intrigued enough to want to read it. While I would love for anyone from the show to do so, my greatest wish is that Connie would do so, mainly because the idea coming from her page.
The thing about us writers is that we’re dreamers as well. Boy are we dreamers. To think Connie Britton would want to read a script from an unknown writer, albeit a huge fan of hers, I would have to be a dreamer.
Either that, or drunk or high. Same thing.
So why is all this important? Television shows have impacted people in a lot of different ways. Some ways, deeper than others. A lot of the deeper ways won’t make sense. This is likely one of those ways that doesn’t to a lot of people. Why I would be awake at all hours of the night and working on something like this that will likely not be read very often would be beyond a lot of people. That’s understandable.
But when a show touches you in the way it has done for me like this, especially being someone who grew up in the inner city, it really means something. I have loved writing for a long time. I grew up not caring about country music or people. Yet today, at age 36 (37 in July) and the two have been put together in the most beautiful way, at least in my own life.
I’m not special. Not at all. But I can imagine there aren’t too many shows out there that have impacted a person’s life in the way that Nashville has impacted mine. Not like this.
I know that the powers that be, if they even read this, would not base a decision of “Bringing Back Nashville” off something like this. None of this would mean much to them. I get that. But I just wanted to share how much this show has meant to me. I can never put into words just how special it has been to not only watch Nashville for these four years, but to also have spent so much time incorporating something else I love, which is writing. I would have never dreamed that things would go this way. I could never imagine that one of my favorite all-time shows, as a kid who once grew up in the inner city, would later be a show based on country music and its people…nor would I have figured it would be a good idea to mix something I once made fun of with something I have loved doing for most of my life.
But this just shows how powerful Nashville has been to me. And for that, I am never going to be ashamed or feel I have “wasted time” doing anything related to it, even in spending weeks writing something that likely very few will ever look at.
Thanks for reading.
(In the off chance any of you are curious as to this “sitcom” I wrote, or have absolutely nothing better to do and are just dying to see it (a man can dream, right?), you can read it here, in another blog post: (https://pplscrt79.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/want-a-rayna-deacon-sitcom-here-it-is/)
*I have to add that this is NOT how the actual script looks as far as format goes. I copied from the PDF file and pasted it into a blog post. That’s why it looks a little uneven in some areas as it may look. The actual script is even all around.*