nashville scarlett pill popping 'Nashville': The problem with Scarlett's pill popping

What the heck is going on with Scarlett?

On Wednesday (Jan. 29) night’s “Nashville,” the blonde, doe-eyed country singer (Clare Bowen) was a total mess. Her touring was still taking a toll on her, and it was obvious just by looking at her: She had dark circles around her eyes, her hair was a frizzy birds’ nest, she was dressing in dark clothes (gasp!) and her eyes were constantly bloodshot. She was tired, and her energy was gone.

All this couldn’t have happened at a worse time, either: Rayna (Connie Britton) set up a meeting for Scarlett with Liam (Michiel Huisman) to work on her album, and the rocker had zero patience for her complaints about being tired and her songs that were clearly shallow and didn’t come from here. Seriously, Scarlett was singing about slammin’ whiskey and dirty dancin’? Puh-lease

That’s when Liam pulled a trick so dirty that it was at first horrifying, but when it yielded real results it was genius — he stole her journal and locked himself in the recording booth to read her deep inner thoughts and secrets while she could only watch him pry into her personal life with terror. And that’s when we saw the first real emotion come out of Scarlett in a long time — anger. Point number one for Liam.

When he was done perusing her journal, he came out and got her to open up about a poem she wrote called “Black Roses.” This wasn’t some little ditty about her ex-boyfriend(s) or about “dirty dancin'” or anything like that. It was about her mom.

And that’s when things got interesting. Scarlett revealed the whole reason why she is who she is today: Her mother was bipolar. She suffered from extreme highs and lows and spent a long time in and out of the “horse farm” (a euphemism Scarlett came up with as a child for when her mom went to a mental institution). Scarlett learned very young to keep quiet to try and keep her mom from going off, but she always did at some point anyway. This whole backstory was a revealing look at why Scarlett acts so meek and polite and delicate all the time, and it was fantastic to see her finally open up. She became a real person, not just some pretty character with a great voice.

It was about time we learned this about Scarlett, and it was about time she finally let someone learn this about her. It allowed her to write and lay down a song that was honest and true to her, “Black Roses,” and it’s honestly the greatest song both Scarlett (and Bowen) has ever performed on “Nashville.” It was raw, emotional, powerful … and actually meant something, unlike every other time Scarlett sang a song (save for her emotional ballads with Gunnar, although love songs are a different kind of powerful).  

Finally letting out all her disappointment and anger and frustration and hurt spurred Scarlett into realizing it was high time she starting writing and singing songs that came from her and meant something to her, not what “makes other people happy,” which is how she was approaching her album before. We can’t wait to see more of this emotionally honest and real Scarlett.

But here’s where things took a turn for the worse: When Liam saw how tired Scarlett was after pulling an all-nighter writing and laying down the track for “Black Roses,” he offered her his prescription pills (we’re guessing it was Adderall, although it wasn’t specified), telling her it was like four cups of coffee. He warned her to take half if she was nervous about it, but she just downed a whole one without giving it a second thought. And then the next day, she downed another, and dropped the whole bottle into her bag:

scarletts pills 'Nashville': The problem with Scarlett's pill popping

Is “Nashville” seriously going to give Scarlett a pill problem now? We were finally getting down to the real and raw person that she is on the inside. That alone was a powerful enough story line for her. It would have propelled her down a road that would give us the chance to watch her struggle with who she wants to be vs. what other people want her to be, as well as produce some beautiful music. 

But now the story is skirting the line of becoming an after-school special about the dangers of substance abuse and a soap opera. You’re seriously going to give the girl who comes from a family history of addiction a drug problem? You’re not even going to have her pause to think about the ramifications of popping pills after helping her uncle get sober time and time again? It just doesn’t jell with who she is.

Yes, she was tired after an exhausting tour schedule and all-nighters that were emotionally draining, but this pill-popping problem (because you know they’re going to make it into a problem/habit, not just a one-time thing) ruins the journey they were taking Scarlett down. Please, “Nashville,” don’t turn Scarlett into a pill-popping problem.

“Nashville” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Posted by:Sydney Bucksbaum