‘Private Lives of Nashville Wives,’ okay
TNT reality show is certainly a notch above most wives shows
February 18, 2014
It’s hard to argue with a proven formula for success. The formula for success in the many reality shows about wives in affluent communities is to have them party together, get into an argument, talk about it and then repeat the cycle endlessly.
TNT’s new reality show “Private Lives of Nashville Wives” dares to try a different formula — about half the time. We actually see people reacting in relatable ways either to situations that all married couples confront or to problems that are particular to the rich and/or famous.
But too much of the show consists of the cast members picking fights with each other over trivialities. While this may be what is expected by fans of most housewives reality shows, it will disappoint viewers who are otherwise pleasantly surprised by the series’ high amount of reality. Since beggars can’t be choosers, those viewers should probably settle for what they can get.
Premiering on Monday, Feb. 24, at 10 p.m., the series focuses on six Nashville women, four of whom are married to men in country music. Sarah Davidson is an aspiring singer-songwriter whose husband, Dallas, is a successful songwriter. Erika Page White is a former soap actress who put her career on hold to raise a family with Bryan, a singer whose career has stalled in recent years.
Betty Malo is a Cuban-American housewife married to Raul, the lead singer of the band the Mavericks. Her twin sister, Ana, who is single, seems to have no personal or professional life outside of hanging around with Betty and her friends.
Cassie Chapman is married to Gary, a former star of contemporary-Christian music who was married to Amy Grant; he’s currently trying to resuscitate his career. Finally, Jenny Terrell is a full-time working mother whose husband, J.T., a caterer, is the primary caregiver for their infant son.
The four episodes provided for review are a mixture of real drama and silliness. The first episode is set during the party-filled week of the Country Music Awards. Sarah is preparing a showcase performance. Although she’s nervous, her husband and friends attend and the audience responds well.
Most premiere episodes of housewives show have a party or get-together that is held for no other reason than to assemble the circle of supposed friends so that two or more of them can have a screaming fight with, if all goes well, drink tossing and hair pulling.
Surprisingly, the social events in this episode end peacefully. Betty has a pig roast at her house, which provides the opportunity for comic relief as she and Ana fight over who is going to lift the pig out of the truck. But all the party leads to is a rather sweet moment in which Raul jams with their two sons.
Chrissie and Gary have Erika and Bryan over to their hilltop mansion, where Gary frightens Erika by shooting at some watermelons in his backyard. This get-together is the occasion for a surprisingly frank conversation between Gary and Bryan in which they discuss no longer being on top and why they so desperately need a comeback.
It’s not until the second episode that we get to a totally pointless social occasion. Bryan takes his boys with him on the road, so Erika plans a girls’ night out. Jenny, who is the group’s designated mean girl, criticizes Erika for picking a quiet bar and for refusing to do shots.
Incredibly, Jenny, who is supposedly a busy woman, has the time to invite Ana over the next day to discuss how much fun Erika wasn’t. They decide to meet her for lunch and talk to her about her problem.
In a later episode, Betty nearly ruins a benefit that Jenny is holding by complaining that she never got an official invitation and that Jenny is auctioning off a guitar that Raul never agreed to sign.
But throughout, we see scenes that are actually worthwhile. Chrissie and Gary meet with the mother of the baby girl they’re adopting during the 10-day period in which the birth mother can change her mind and decide to keep the girl.
Sarah and her band drive all the way to Virginia to do a gig in a steakhouse in which the patrons seem more interested in finishing their dinner. And the other women start to comment that Dallas and Sarah seem to be growing apart. We see some painfully awkward moments that suggest the other women may be right.
Even in this supposedly post-feminist era, J.T. and Jenny’s relationship is unusual. “For all the men who say you can’t have a career and be a househusband,” she tells the camera, “you’re wrong. You too can have it all.”
“I should write a book about that,” he says.
J.T. wants to have another child. Jenny says that would be too much of a burden on him.
With all that good material, the producers of “Private Lives of Nashville Wives” probably could have put together an interesting show without all the cocktails and cat fights. But they lost nerve and left it up to us to screen out the nonsense. With screening, it’s worth watching.
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