On Wednesday, Nashville’s crossed a new line by killing one of the show’s longtime villains just as they were getting their life on track. It was like Game of Thrones when Joffrey died (not a spoiler, you’ve had YEARS to watch) except this death wasn’t exactly celebratory, it was bittersweet, like… a country song.
As my colleague Jia Tolentino wrote earlier this year, no one on ABC’s Tennessee-based musical drama is allowed to be happy. (Hell, not even the fans, after ex-musical director T-Bone Burnett left the show and took his catchy tunes to True Detective.) Spoilers ahead, if you don’t mind.
During the fourth season, Juliette tumbles down a mountain of postpartum manic depression. She dodges inheriting her mother’s drug addiction, only to succumb to drinking and sycophants until she’s finally goes and does it. This week, she tried to commit suicide and managed to swing Jeff Fordham, her manager and the new CEO of Luke Wheeler’s label, off the ledge of a hotel building instead. Congrats Juliette, this is a new low, even for your character.
This jaw-dropper comes after she abandoned her infant daughter Cadence while driving away her husband Avery, her first manager and caring assistant who only had her best interest at heart. Now, when Juliette tries to end it all by overdosing (so much for trying to sidestep her mother’s mistakes) and stepping off a building, the Nashville writers won’t let her do that, right? This is Nashville, no one is allowed to be happy, not even in death.
The season’s arc moving forward will no doubt follow Juliette pretending that she didn’t accidentally kill Jeff and probably confessing the truth to Rayna or Avery. However, there’s one loose detail. Luke’s teenage son Colt saw Jeff fall from the ledge—but he was drunk, so his account will probably be up for debate.
This fateful scenario was reminiscent of a pivotal early Game of Thrones scene, in which Cersei and Jamie Lannister were mid-coitus, saw Bran Stark watching them and pushed him out of the tall tower window, crippling the child. Television is brutal now, people. Thanks to emotionally draining shows like GOT, Breaking Bad (also filled with heart-crushing moments of celebration drowned in sorrow and meth) and Mad Men, even your average ABC drama must march fully into the darkness.
If you’re keeping score at home, Juliette’s suicidal accident follows Deacon’s sister’s death, when Scarlett had to make the tear-stained decision to unplug her comatose, unconscious and abusive mother. This tragedy occurred after Deacon nearly died of cancer after learning he is Maddie’s real father, Rayna’s ex-husband Teddy went to prison, and Will Lexington came out as gay (only to be dropped by Luke’s label and dumped by his first authentic boyfriend).
In this day and age, if you want happiness, stick to family sitcoms like Fresh Off The Boat and Black-ish. Everything else is coming up funeral flowers.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.
Image via ABC.