Nashville: The Deyna problem
The Rayna and Deacon story on Nashville is more than a love story. It’s one of the show’s cornerstones. Take it out or handle it poorly and you turn Nashville from a show about artists made by artists to a show of performers.
I’m a Nashville fan. I fell in love with this magical fake world back in the pilot episode and I’m a dedicated viewer ever since. There are many reasons for my Nashville love, but the biggest one of all is the music.
The music on Nashville is an excellent original music that expands my musical horizons and gives me a taste of the real Nashville. That in itself set Nashville apart from lots of other TV shows, but in Nashville the music does one more thing that makes this series REALLY special – It tells a story.
The music on Nashville show the characters true self and let me know where they came from, where they stand and even hints about their future. Through it, I learn about the characters thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, regrets and struggles .Even when a character does something that seems to take her in a “wrong” direction, the music points in the right direction and uncovers the truth. The music connects characters and pulls them apart. It heals and it breaks them and sometimes, like in “This Town” and “Dreams”, the music even serves as a Meta commentary for the entire show.
Among the Nashville characters there are not two characters that music help to tell their story more than Rayna and Deacon – Deyna.
During Nashville’s first season music not only told their story but it also defined it.
Their story started almost innocently. Hands touch intimately after a performance, a sad ballade that hints about a painful past and one scene on a bridge.
But then there was a song, a duet, at the Bluebird Café. It started off as just another song but half way through it turned into something else. When the music took over, it touched a place in their heart that, for them, only music could reach and opened their hearts and with it an old wound that never fully healed.
That was it.
Music, eyes, voice and two hearts beating.
That was enough to make Rayna and Deacon fall in love all over again and for me, to fall in love with their story. From that moment, music, Rayna and Deacon were the same – there was no difference. Therefore, I could always rely on it to always tell the truth, peel the layers from these two guarded, restless and passionate souls and guide the way. It was a beautiful journey and at times, even poetic.
But then it all crashed, literally.
The morning after, in the harsh light of day, Deyna and I, along with the rest of the viewers found ourselves in an unfamiliar territory.
First, Rayna and Deacon broke up. It was sad, but it was expected after what happened and I think we were all ready to endure this separation as a necessary evil.
but the break ups didn’t stop there because right after Rayna and Deacon broke up, Deyna and the music broke up as well. THAT particular break up changed everything.
These days, music no longer tells Deyna’s story. If anything, it actually tells a different story where Deyna are just a distant insignificant memory left in the heart of some viewers.
Suddenly, instead of being a character with a loyal heart, the music introduce to us a completely different Deacon. Suddenly he is someone who sing a ballade about a man who keeps coming back to the same women that pulls the strings of his heart over the years…But who’s singing it to? Rayna? no, its his current girlfriend who he has known for only couple of months. That despite the fact that the capture Deyna’s relationship perfectly. That happens two minutes after Rayna and Deacon wrote a song together about how they want to keep their new love affairs simple and sweet.confusing, ha?
Did the man who loved the same woman for so long, simply stopped loving her one day and transferred all the depth of his emotions to someone else that with whom he shares a connection that show no sign of possibly inspiring such song?
It’s one thing that Deacon lies to himself. A character can do that. but that the music lie as well, or worse, that the music start telling a different story that change on us the entire narrative of the show?? It’s really hard for me to understand.
It’s no picnic in the Rayna front either. After her comeback with “the best songs come from broken hearts”, she seized from being an artist and turned strictly into a performer and a business woman. She doesn’t sing any more songs with lyrics that tell us something about her inner world.
That leaves us only her actions, and they don’t tell the Deyna story but another one about a woman who is stuck in the same repetitive pattern of using relationships to gain control over her life as a self-preservation mechanism. So basically, we have no idea what’s really in her heart. We know she did the same thing with Teddy and we know Luke is even worse, but that’s it.
All of this brings us to the biggest problem of all: Nashville is not the kind of show that bases its storytelling and character development on conversations and long monologues. To take away the music – the Nashville method for storytelling, from characters in this show is very problematic. To do it to the two most complicated multilayered and closed off characters on the show? That is even worse.
If you pull apart THE couple on the show, hardly give them any screen time together to explore their rich dynamic in new dimensions and address their current situation, and take out the music as the narrator and truth teller, what you’re left with is nothing. If you tell in the meantime a different story, without resolving the last one, you are actually changing the narrative.
To make things even worse, it seems that the writers have other, more pressing matters to tend to. Yes, they give us a Deyna scene every once in a while but it feels like they are doing it to us, the fans, as a favor. Like its part of a “to do list”, and their heart is simply not in it.
All of this combined, creates a situation where, we, the viewers, lose interest in the story, but it’s not because we’re done with it, but because all these changes make us lose our faith in the storytellers. That also prevents us from being fully invested in the new stories…we are not done with the old ones even if the writers lost interest.
The saddest thing about it is that pulling the rug under the Deyna story means pulling the rug under the entire show. That’s because the Deyna story help to define an important part of the nature of these characters, and these characters are crucial for the Nashville universe. Meaning, If Rayna and Deacon lose the music, they lose their heart and when they have no heart-Nashville has no heart.
So instead of a continuation and a development of a story we get bits and pieces that don’t really sit well together. We get too many unanswered questions and too many missed opportunities.
What we crave for now is not even a happy ending but an indication that all the story wasn’t a lie. Our memory as viewers is simply not enough.
As for me, I want the show to find a way to give this story room to breathe,and by that I don’t mean just the exploration of the insane Deyna chemistry. I mean the foundations of the relationship:
The love that allows two people who loved each other so deeply for so long, who have lost so much, who share a history they can drown in, a spacial deep artistic connection and a daughter, to face each other and stop running away.
I believe these characters earned the opportunity to trust each other and open the wound so it will finally heal. Deacon deserve to be angry and Rayna deserve to share her pain. This is the story the writers started to tell and I really want to know how is unfolds with the compassion, depth humanity humor and music I fell in love with.
I don’t know where the Deyna story is headed, and maybe it will go “my way” but since the journey changed so much and lost it’s depth and that I don’t even have the music anymore to guide me through it all, all I’m left with now isjust bitter memories from the crash and a hole in my Deyna heart. That’s not enough to make me want to follow this story, and it’s ceretainly not enough to open my heart for new characters and new stories.Once trust is lost, it’s hard to regain it.
That makes me sad and frustrated because, truth be told , even if there are other interesting things going on in Nashville this story was always much more than your typical TV –will they won’t they love story.
The story of Rayna and Deacon set itself apart from day one with the depth and complexity that only a unique smart use of music, excellent writing brilliant acting and lots of heart and soul can give.
It was an honest portrayal of a grownup relationship of people who had a life time together for all it entails and a fascinating inquiry of that thin line between love and addiction, passion and obsession. Take out these elements from the story and you take out the heart of the show itself, because complicated relationship and learning how to first notice the line and then how not to cross it (or cross it) that what it means to be an artist, and Nashville is a show about artists.
That was special, that was original, it was interesting.
Now there’s no other choice but to ask the Liam question :
Is Nashville just a performer – Or maybe, it’s something more – An artist?
Sure hope it’s the latter because my heart’s in pieces.