The critically acclaimed TV show Nashville isn’t just changing networks at the beginning of season 5. It’s changing tunes. A lot of that has to do with new showrunners, Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick. The pair behind late-1980s drama Thirtysomething want to get back to basics.
“There was an approach the show had taken over the years — where it’s really based on a lot of incidents, where this happens and that happens and this person sleeps with that person— that’s just not the way we do things,” Herskovitz told Entertainment Weekly.
Instead, they want to return to what captivated so many viewers in the first place: the music. Part of that means they’ll put less “story” in each episode and more music. In other words, the show won’t have five plots going at once. They’ll focus on the emotion behind the characters.
In Thirtysomething, the showrunners created a cast that lived in the advertising world, despite not being advertisers themselves. In Nashville, Zwick and Herskovitz enter the picture with a better understanding of the music industry. So the actual business will play a big part in the story.
Plus, creator Callie Khouri still plays a big role in the show. “It was Callie and T Bone [Burnett] and their life in Nashville that really animated that part of it,” Zwick adds.
The pair also feels the move to CMT from ABC allows them to not worry so much about cliffhangers and drama. A lot of times, those major networks need huge, dramatic endings to keep viewers coming back. CMT’s music-focused audience has a lot more patience for less theatrics and better stories. Since that’s not the case any more, the show can feel more realistic.
“CMT has given us tremendous creative freedom,” Herskovitz says. “I feel like we have an opportunity to allow the show to be what it wants to be as opposed to having anything imposed on it from above.”
That’s music to a lot of fans’ ears. The first two seasons of the show featured some of the best country music inside or outside of television. The show helped area songwriters get a huge boost up, too. Many fans felt the country music in the fake Nashville world far exceeded the quality of country music in the real one.
Zwick called Nashville one of the last “artist colonies” in America, one that roots itself deeply in the intimacy of the industry. They hope to capture that moving forward in season 5.