Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Did Nashville Succeed and Not Smash?

Have you noticed that most critics and TV people compare the two shows “Dallas” and “Nashville” when talking about them in articles? One can assume this is because they are two southern cities in the title and came out around the same time.  I watched “Dallas” up until JR Ewing died, but sort of let it go after that. However – I do still keep up with “Nashville”.

I sort of think that comparison isn’t fair because the shows are very different. If we want to compare two shows currently on…we should look at “Nashville” and “Smash”. Both use a creative industry as the background of the stories they choose to tell. One is more main-stream in that many people across America listen to country music. The other is truly a niche market because it deals with the theater world in New York City.

I have to admit: I should absolutely love “Smash” because of all that it is and all that I have been my entire life. I’m all about musical theater and that’s the setting for this show. And I have tried these first two seasons to love it – sadly, I’m not the only one that feels that way. Ratings have not been good (4 million more people watch "Nashville" than "Smash") and NBC has moved it around and has decided to air the finale as a two hour special on the Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend (not the best time-slot). I guess fans should be happy they are getting an ending to it as network television has no problem nowadays cancelling a show and never letting us know what happens to the characters we have grown to love.

What did “Nashville” do that was right that “Smash” couldn’t tap into? I love the music on both shows, yet the stories and characters on “Nashville” simply pull me in much more than those on “Smash”. Both shows have performers at odds with each other, both have people sleeping around within the industry and both give us drama (with a capital D).  But there is something in the writing of the Music City Capital tale that makes me care about these people when the other has me longing for another song by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.  

I'm sure I'll tune into the finale in a month to see what becomes of Ivy and Karen, but I know it won't affect my summer with its departure. I wish viewers could have cared more about what happens in the making of a Broadway musical (and I really wish they'd just write Bombshell and get it on stage) - but for a story that makes me feel something; I'll continue to tune into ABC to see if country superstar Rayna James ever gets back together with her first love Deacon. (Of course - that's until ABC decides they are not pulling in enough viewers and replaces it with a Celebrity D-List reality show.)

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