After months of traffic snarls caused by Powers Boothe-related road closures, the payoff comes Thursday with the debut of ABC’s prime-time soap opera Nashville.
We’ll tune in to see how our city is portrayed — whether hackneyed old stereotypes are beat like dead Hee-Haw donkeys or whether the TV takeoff of our town is rooted in the truth.
Our foibles may be hard to watch on the small screen, but it’ll be no doubt fascinating to see the treatment our home receives — warts and all.
“Nashville” is just the latest of eponymic city dramas network executives have green-lighted, unveiling the fictionalized story of a place in America at large.
In the 1980s, the Ewings were Dallas to the rest of the country, just as Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere will be Nashville to everyone else.
It’s a formula that’s worked well for television. Boardwalk Empire paints the story of Prohibition-era Atlantic City. Vegas does it for Sin City. And the Dallas reboot is doing it again for Big D.
But why stop? Why not just keep churning out these city stories?
Nashville can take pride knowing that no one has seen fit to pitch a pilot for Charlotte, the story of young bankers desperately searching for a path to the top and for something to do downtown after 7.
And Austin? Sure, Texas’ capital has its famous City Limits on PBS, but when do we get the interwoven stories of a hip club owner, a whiskey-soaked state legislator and the cool band no one’s ever heard of that brings them together? Hey, maybe Vince Young can cameo. He’s very available.
Denver could be the story of a ski bum-turned-private detective. A dark, Dan Brown-style fantasy as our hero tries to solve the mysterious symbolism hidden deep inside the Mile High City’s airport.
Atlanta hasn’t been subject to TV’s broad strokes since Designing Women was canceled. But instead of sharp-witted interior designers, the drama Atlanta could feature a droopy-faced group of commuters who spend the entire hour of the show explaining why it’s stupid to take I-285.
And who wouldn’t tune into Omaha? It could be a serious version of The Office, as we learn of the lives and loves of a group of co-workers at a call center.
Just think of the countless Nashville spin-offs, too.
First up, in East Nashville a group of ennui-laden twentysomethings sit around talking about how they’d never watch Nashville and how they’d much prefer to be starring in “Austin.” It would be very meta.
And J.J. Abrams directs Cool Springs, suburbanites trapped in mall traffic, lost, trying to find their way back to the interstate.
David Lynch could return to TV with Smyrna/La Vergne/Antioch.
“Where am I?” the characters ask. “Why am I here? How did I get here? How do I get out? What county am I in? Why do I always seem to be on I-24? Will anyone believe me if I say I live in Brentwood?”
Pivoting off the success of The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin returns to network television with Lebanon: an ensemble piece about Cracker Barrel, the restaurant-slash-store serving as a useful, if ham-fisted, metaphor about the American experience or whatever Sorkin is going on about now.
For now, let’s just be happy with the actual show — and let’s make sure our friends in Charlotte are watching.
It’s not like they have anything else to do after dark.