Was the “Nashville” lady kiss just a ratings ploy?

Awww, dagnabbit Nashville! Well, I’m sad to report that the surprise lady lip lock on last week’s Nashville didn’t amount to anything. In fact, the only affect it had was to try and push Juliette Barnes and her British billionaire paramour closer together.  In case you missed it, or are unfamiliar with Nashville, here’s the run down.

Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is country music’s little firecracker. (Think the sass of Miranda Lambert with the youth of Taylor Swift.) For a girl with a whole lot of talent and smarts, she is regrettably terrible when it comes to choosing men. Her last boyfriend nearly ruined her career with blackmail, before ultimately being put on ice by Juliette’s mother. She is currently knocking cowboy boots with Charles Wentworth (Charlie Bewley), a billionaire businessman who is married to one of Juliette’s biggest fans, Olivia (Brit Shaw). Olivia catches Charles and Juliette in bed, but kept it to herself until last week when she confronted Juliette. What one expected to be a typical “step off my man” speech turned into a “why aren’t you stepping on to me” speech instead, followed by a big ol’ kiss.

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Last night’s episode picked up where they left off, and to say that Juliette was not feeling it would be an understatement. Shocked and confused, she rebuffs Olivia, who essentially tells Juliette that she wants a threesome with her and Charlie. Whoo boy. Yup, they’re swingers y’all!

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Juliette tosses Olivia out and ignores Charlie’s attempts to reach her. Later she finds the couple having dinner and the women lob insults at each other. “Bitch!” “Trailer trash!” It’s sad and is frankly beneath Nashville, which while usually remaining true to its soapy roots, also tries to portray more nuanced narratives.

The character of Juliette fits the typical soap “villain” role, but Hayden Panettiere’s fantastic embodiment of the songstress, and her complicated upbringing (and occasional tender heart) make her more of an anti-hero. She’s easily the most compelling part of Nashville, even besting the great Connie Britton in many scenes. It’s strange to think that in 2013, television shows are still tossing in lesbian kisses to get a rise out of their audience. To be fair, one of Nashville’s supporting characters is Will, a closeted gay country artist, about to make it big. I’m very curious to see how they handle his repressed sexuality, which is always there, bubbling so close to the surface that you half expect the poor guy to spontaneously combust.

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It would have been really interesting to see the kiss really give Juliette pause, rather than just pissing her off. Juliette is a complicated character, and it’s things like this that give her an opportunity to delve into that guarded little heart of hers and ask some big questions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we should hold our breath for any grand realizations. Then again, Nashville often surprises me.

What did you think of “the kiss” on Nashville?

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