The series picks up two weeks after last season's car crash involving country star Rayna James, played by Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story),
and her sometimes love interest Deacon Claybourne, played by Charles
Esten. Rayna is in a coma but comes out of it. Deacon is in prison for
drunk driving but he gets out too.
It's funny because while Rayna was in a coma, the younger country stars become more worried about their careers as a result than whether or not Rayna would be okay. What we learn is that the crash and subsequent hospitalization has possibly ruined Rayna's singing voice. Deacon injured his hand and might not be able to be the great guitarist that he used to be.
Continuing her evil Taylor Swift impression, Hayden Panettiere co-stars as Juliette who is bonding with Rayna in their mutual trouble and hatred for the new head of the record label, Jeff Fordham, played by Oliver Hudson. Jeff is all about the bottom line. He's all about record sales. His so-called love and respect for his artists is all just a pretense, a show to pacify so that he can really be cutthroat. Juliette is so self-centered and egotistical, but this totally rubs her the wrong way in her initial meeting of him.
The butting of Juliette and Jeff's heads will probably be a continual thing throughout Season 2. Juliette being more introspective about her personal issues is something that could also be continual with the help of her guitarist and possible, new love interest, Avery, played by Emmy-winner Jonathan Jackson.Yet, the writers also brilliantly use Juliette as a way of exploring the sexist problems that often plague women in the entertainment industry. A twist involving the Wentworth couple is shocking and amazing, but no spoilers here.
Rayna is starting her own label, while she's still signed to Jeff. She's doing what she can to get out of her contract, but in the meantime she's cultivating new artists. At the start of Season 2, she has two artists: Scarlet O'Connor and Will Lexington.
We got to know Scarlet, played by Clare Bown, last season. She seems to be the same as she was last season, dealing with the same issues, a shy, naive girl who's struggling to come out of her shell and get over her reserve. The real discovery this season is Will, played by Chris Carmack. He appears to be half-cowboy and half-frat boy. He's roommates with Gunnar Scott, played by Sam Palladio. Gunnar is Scarlet's ex-boyfriend, and through Gunnar, we slowly learn things about Will who is all smiles and is happy-go-lucky but who has secrets.
One secret is one that Will easily reveals. He's a performer strictly. He's not a singer-songwriter like Gunnar, but because of his looks and charm, Will is more likely to get the attention. In fact, besides Rayna's interest, Jeff is also trying to sign Will. It's not that Gunnar is not a good-looking guy, but Will is played by Cormack who literally stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.
The other secret is one that Will doesn't want to reveal. Besides being a ladies' man, Will is gay. He's able to keep it under wraps, but Will's ex-boyfriend Brent, played by Derek Krantz, works for Jeff at the record label. At first, Will doesn't want Brent anywhere near him, but Brent keeps coming around and does his best to convince Will to sign with Jeff's label, Edgehill.
Even though in the first three episodes, Will and Brent have only a handful of scenes, the chemistry between Cormack and Krantz is undeniable. The show has such a good cast. The chemistry between any of the pairings is always hot. Britton in fact can have chemistry with anyone. Rayna's new producer, Liam, played by Michiel Huisman, is a possible love interest too. Liam is an old friend but just one scene with Britton and you feel all kinds of sparks. Later, another country star, Luke Wheeler, played by Broadway star Will Chase (Smash), enters the picture as a possible love interest for Rayna and Britton's electricity with Chase is hot. She's that good.
The only thing about the show that's lackluster is the stuff with Rayna's ex-husband, Mayor Teddy Conrad, played by Eric Close. Apparently, he got Peggy, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, the wife of real-life country star Brad Paisley, pregnant, but Peggy had a miscarriage. Yet, Teddy isn't told, so he continues to believe in a lie. It's lackluster though and an unnecessary plot. It's minor though in a show that is a great look into the music business, done with really good dramatic and musical moments.
Five Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC.