ABC’s “Nashville,” once very much considered “must-watch TV,” has lost some its southern charm since it first premiered in 2012. While the series struggles to get its southern swag back in order to seal a renewal order from the network, the current political state of Nashville, Tn., may be a major factor in whether or not fans will see a Season 5 of the country drama.
Connie Britton, who stars as singer Rayna James on the series, spoke out about the state’s pending anti-LGBT laws to The Hollywood Reporter, saying “In general, the language in that bill is some of the most discriminatory that we’ve seen, certainly in my lifetime, and to take on that kind of stigma in our state as a legislator, that would not be a very great way to represent the people.”
But the actress, who relocated to the capital of country music to film the series, is holding out hope. “Nashville is strong enough and progressive enough that it could support a change in that point of view” against equality for the gay, lesbian, transgender, and bi-sexual community.
Currently Tennessee governor Bill Hallam is reviewing House Bill 1840 in which therapists and counselors can deny treatment to certain patients if they feel the patient’s issues go against their personally held beliefs. Also up for debate is House Bill 2414, the bill which has caused both Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam to cancel their tour stops in North Carolina after it was passed, a legislation that would ban transgenders from using school bathrooms.
“I shoot a TV show in Tennessee, and honestly, if they proceed with this, I’m not necessarily going to feel comfortable working there,” says Britton. “That is a tricky situation because of course we employ a lot of people in the state, and you certainly don’t want to have to interrupt that, but at the same time, this is the only way that we can have our voices be heard.”
If a show which the state’s Economic and Community Development’s director Randy Boyd describes as “great advertising” and spends around $20 million a year employing locals with jobs were to threaten to pull the plug on a potential fifth season, could that sway the state against passing the bills?
“Nashville” star Chris Carmack, who plays gay singer Will Lexington on the series, says the real people of Nashville have only embraced his character since coming out. Passing anti-LGBT laws would be both “devastating” and “incredibly harmful,” he says, as “the state is basically setting an example for people that it’s ok to discriminate.”
Carmack thinks aloud, “‘Do we want to live in a place like this?’ I know right now everyone is calling on big corporations to step in and voice their opinions, because money matters in something like a political forum, but I guarantee you that there are many more individuals like myself and my fiancee who are potential long-term transplants from all over, who are saying, ‘Is this a place I would want to call home? A place that would write this sort of thing into legislation?”
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