Nashville Maddie Season 4 Problem

Nashville's Maddening Maddie Storyline: We Just Can't Anymore

In the heightened world that ABC’s Nashville has created over the past four seasons, I’m willing to buy quite a lot.

Country-crossing stadium tours thrown together at a moment’s notice? Sure. An A-list singer in huge sunglasses stalking her estranged husband from her mobility scooter at a public festival? Why not? Heck, I’ll even go along with the notion that Music City has a rabid pack of paparazzi ready to pop flashbulbs at the slightest whiff of controversy.

But I swear, by the price tag fluttering from Minnie Pearl’s sunhat, I cannot accept that Maddie — Maddie! — is the character on whom the ABC drama has hung a major plot that will last the rest of this season.

TVLine has it on good authority that Maddie’s quest to become emancipated from parents Rayna and Deacon will continue through the season finale. And while I do not begrudge the series wanting to give the talented Lennon Stella a chance to show her stuff, I certainly wish that opportunity wasn’t coming at the expense of screentime for other characters in whom the show’s fanbase is much more invested.

“But wait,” some will argue, “Maddie’s current plot directly involves Rayna and Deacon, the show’s central couple. And that means we’ll see more of the newlyweds together.” Yes, but Ray and Deke’s involvement in their daughter’s flight from home is akin to my involvement in renewing my driver’s license at the DMV: It’s tiring, it’s painful and we’d all rather be doing pretty much anything else.

And before anyone can quibble, hear this: I fully understand that Maddie’s self-involvement and ridiculous statements — remember when she said she envied Colt enlisting in the armed forces because he got to make his own decisions? — come with the teenage territory. I was an adolescent girl myself, once, and I wouldn’t wish on anyone the uncertainty, social anxiety and hormones that are hallmarks of the age.

I also wouldn’t use them to fill the better part of an hour-long TV drama about the country-music business.

There is hope: If you watched this week’s episode, you witnessed the too-brief scenes between Connie Britton’s Rayna and Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette. As the two women discussed keeping hold of the ones they love — with Juliette’s status as a new mom giving her a different take on a situation at which she might once have scoffed — my heart sang like Scarlett after a few tequila shots: THIS is the Nashville I know and love. This is the show whose albums I’ve downloaded, whose great moments (“Rayna, I’m done talkin’!” in the elevator immediately comes to mind) are such a joy to recall.

But those moments can’t happen when each episode is crowded with the passing dramas of minor characters like Frankie, Cash, Colt, Vita, Riff, Autumn… the list, which certainly includes Maddie, goes on. Here’s hoping that Nashville gets a fifth season, and that new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick put the focus back where it belongs: on Rayna and Juliette’s life and love in the biz.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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189 Comments
  1. Haley N. says:

    Bless you for this!

    • the girl says:

      I wish I could like this comment just to show how much I love this article.

      • Bunny says:

        I am so glad I ran across this article, I could not agree more. This whole teen drama….I am over it. Lennon does a great job with her role as Maddie, I just can’t stand the scenes she is being given. Give us back the sweet Maddie. I actually would have been fine if she could have started working with Highway 65 to give her some screen time and let her sing some shows here and there, just shut up and get over this teen drama crap. I did not start watching this show to watch kids and teens, I do hope they get back to the core of this show. I really hope to see Juliette become a better person and I hold hope for her and Avery.
        Please stop the cry baby teen drama or at least keep it minimal.

    • ? says:

      So, here’s the thing: good and bad, I love this show for irrational reasons and will watch it no matter what, regardless of how the writing might frustrate me at times (and it does, oh, it does). Okay. That out of the way, I get why they want to draw a parallel between Maddie now and Rayna’s backstory for how she broke into county music. The thing is that that has never been a strong point of Rayna’s character, it’s never been entirely believable, but the less attention paid to it the less our suspension of disbelief concerning it has mattered. I mean on the face of it, Rayna’s backstory is just dumb. But, whatever. Okay. Now, I’m sensitive to people being critical of Lennon Stella about this. I think she’s great, and I think it’s not her fault, and if people are mean to her about the way her character is being written now, I think that sucks. Maddie was at her best as a character when she was showing solidarity and closeness with her sister all the time no matter what life threw at them. I miss that. It felt real and authentic, and unlike your standard television tropes. Well. I don’t want Maddie to get hit by a bus like TVLine has suggested elsewhere. Instead I want her to be written as a caring elder sister to Daphne who sticks up for her to everyone who would dismiss her, as she used to be written. I don’t want to see silly things like her being graphically molested at a bar the first time she ever performs, because that’s just ridiculously contrived and stupid. I don’t want to see the actress maligned for how her character is currently being written, basically, when her character actually has a ton to offer the show if she was being written better. Is that so wrong? If we’re going to throw shade on the Maddie plot, I don’t want any of it to fall on her actress as I don’t think that’s fair. And I don’t want her kicked off the show, I just want her written better. Can we agree on that? Please? Let us remember this girl has the voice of angel and she took this job in tandem with her sister and she never asked for any of this. Let’s be nice to her, please?

      • ? says:

        I guess I just want to say: if Lennon Stella felt targeted or criticized for one moment because of how her character is currently being written, I think that would be really unfair and I would feel really bad about it. She’s doing just fine as an actress–all we can expect of her, really.

      • Deb Mac says:

        YES! Thank you! I agree 100%!

      • Celina says:

        What bother me the most is that she had a great connection with Deacon. She begged her parents to get guitar lessons with him, they used to make great music together! Now, suddenly, she doesn’t even like him?! I hate this storyline so much! I don’t like Maddie’s new soubd either…

      • Sayre says:

        That’s just not realistic.
        I like that they’re going the realistic route.
        I had an older sister who acted a lot like Maddie, and music was both of our lives.
        And she (Maddie) did show up to sing with Daphne.

      • I missed where Lennon herself was being judged. That’s rediculous.

  2. Rayna and Deacon just need to file charges against Cash and get a restraining order. And to pin the blame on him because he got angry? HIS UNDERAGE DAUGHTER WAS ILLEGALLY IN A BAR. He had every right to react like that, especially when creepy guys were hitting on her. But please end this storyline and get back to the basics, which hopefully the new showrunners will do if there’s a fifth season.

    • dpl says:

      so agree!

    • em chicago says:

      PREACH

    • Curly says:

      Didn’t Leann Rimes file for Emancipation at age 16 from her parents to take control of her career and money? They have already mentioned Rayna rebelled against her dad at 16 to strike out on her own for a career, so I actually found it interesting to see the writers bring this story full circle for Rayna.
      It may be too melodramatic for some, but I bet this kind of thing happens in show biz when managers get ahold of talented teens and help separate them from their parents.

      • Jill says:

        Yes, but that’s totally different because she was already a celebrity who made her own money. Maddie is not a celebrity, she’s a normal 16 year old with some talent that has a famous mom. A parent has the right to decide that they want to wait for the child to sign a record deal until they’re 18.

      • Sayre says:

        @Curly

        Exactly!

    • Carm says:

      Exactly this!

    • BigDawg says:

      I agree Completely>>

    • Deb Mac says:

      Right on! I don’t get why Ray & Deke just left her at Cash’s either. She’s STILL just 16 and they are STILL her parents. How could they just walk away and leave her with this creepy adult woman who is clearly steering her down a very bad path? And I do not understand why Frankie can’t see what’s happening either. Would he have let Cash run around with say, Autumn Chase like that when she was just 16? Shoot, if that was me, my folks would’ve snatched a knot in my rear end and dragged me home. Or sent the cops to drag me home. Rayna can’t possibly be so concerned about the press getting wind of the situation that she would leave Maddie in the hands of someone she does not trust for a second. The whole storyline is just horrible, offensive and stupid. I can’t imagine anyone is enjoying watching it. And I feel bad for Lennon & Maisy having to play this awful mess of a plot. And then go on talk shows to apologize for it like they did earlier this week.

    • Sayre says:

      DISAGREE

  3. Alyson says:

    I feel bad for Lennon, because she really is quite talented, but Maddie is insufferable.

  4. CAN says:

    If she was my daughter, I would have grabbed her by the hair and tossed her in the car.

    • dpl says:

      And called the police.

    • David says:

      That’s what you do! You don’t ask the 16 year old to come home. You grab her by the hair and take her kicking and screaming. And if that doesn’t work, you show up with the police five minutes later, have them arrest the person over 18 letting her stay there, and have them bring her home.

      • S says:

        In real life, yes. Not in Nashville, I guess.

        • Rosanne says:

          ‘Maddie is insufferable.”

          Oh, wordy mcWord-Word
          “You grab her by the hair and take her kicking and screaming. And if that doesn’t work, you show up with the police five minutes later, have them arrest the person over 18 letting her stay there, and have them bring her home.”
          Imagine some fine black Mama or Grandma currently starring on TV (blackish, Carmichaels, or Cookie!) standing on Cash’s stoop begging that little snot to come home. Hah! Out come the carpet slipper and she’d smack her ass all the way home.

          • Kathy says:

            Thank you! I thought I was the only fan of Nashville totally sick of the Maddie storyline! You are so right … Cookie would have beat her little ungrateful ass all the way home with a BROOM!

  5. Ash says:

    Send Maddie and Daphne (less annoying but they’re a pair) to boarding school already. Colt can go to the Army, Frankie and Cash leave Nashufo start a life away from booze and underage girls, Vita moves on to a new town, Autumn’s tour ends and is never heard from again, etc. stop focusing on horrible newbies and remember your core cast aka the reason we all started watching. And for gods sake give Jonathan Jackson’s tear ducts a break and have Avery do more than cry. Maybe him do some rockier country like in season one that won’t end in tears.

    • Mike says:

      I think with poor Jonathon, he does pain so well that no matter where he is they utilize it to the extreme. Go watch some GH scenes. From the minute he became a teenager they worked the waterworks for all they were worth.

    • dpl says:

      Yes, yes, yes

    • Ella Jasper says:

      I so agree with you! I get so furious about what they are doing to this show. It was great in the beginning and had wonderful characters and actors. Every time I look at JJ’s face, I say, here come the Lucky tears. He is a great actor, use him!! I hope ABC will give the new EP’s a chance to save the show.

    • Terry says:

      Yes, I agree. Get back to the core cast. The reason we started watching Nashville in the first place. Bringing in too many new people.

    • Deb Mac says:

      I just want Avery & Juliette to get back to singing lullabies to Cadence TOGETHER.

  6. Wordsmith says:

    Preach!

  7. Erin Lowrie says:

    This! Yes! They need to get this show back to where it was. A huge reason why I love this show is the music and I feel like they have put that aside.

  8. Mike says:

    I know this is a tv show so we’ll have to put up with their version of reality, but emancipation? That’s ridiculous and a judge would laugh her out of court. As it is, they could go to the cops right now and get her back home in a heartbeat. Convenient how Cash shows his part in that night but forgets to mention that she lost it on him. That kind of rage. That girl has problems.

    • Deb Mac says:

      Right! They really need to explore the whole Cash screeching that she’ll NEVER ABANDON MADDIE thing. So weird. She’s got some strange of weird obsession with a CHILD. She creeps me out. I don’t want Maddie gone. I wants CASH gone. And she take mean ol’ Fankie Sourpuss with her!

  9. Nikki says:

    Nothing at all against Lennon but I hate Maddie. I am pissed that she’s going to get all this screentime. I have no interest in watching “Children in Nashville”.

  10. Gina says:

    Well there went it getting renewed for another season. Cuz no one is gonna want to watch this boring ass storyline. Everyone is sick of maddie now

  11. Bwhit says:

    This is so right. Lennon Stella is doing the best with what’s she given but why should she have to? Maddie’s scenes should have been capped at 2. One in the beginning showing where she was and one at the end where she sat in the back of her parent’s car while watching Cash be led away in handcuffs. The rest of the episode should have centered more on Gunnar and Scarlett (sans Autumn, she needs to go!), Juliette doing basically anything (I would been entertained with 15 minutes more of Glenn, Emily and Juliette eating breakfast over any scene Maddie and Cash were in) and so on. These outside guest stars and Maddie drama are pushing the main players I care about to the sidelines on a BUBBLE show…. Give me the core back…. Rayna,Juliette, Avery, Deacon, Gunnar and Scarlett with some Will sprinkled in.

    • dpl says:

      Yes, Autumn needs to go. And soon
      Some characters you love to hate like Jeff. She’s not that, she just needs to go. Can’t tolerate her character. Only thing she good for is a snack break or a trip to the bathroom, so you don’t miss the other good scenes.

      • Bwhit says:

        The problem last night was that they put Gunnar and Scarlett in all of her scenes and since they’ve been getting so little scene time due to Maddie, I was forced to endure her because I wanted to savior what little they decided to give us of the Exes on tour.

    • Deb Mac says:

      I think we’re all just completely sick of all the annoying randos. I’m hoping we get another season and that Herskovitz & Zwick can work some magic and bring our beloved core characters back into focus.

  12. Larc says:

    The current Nashville showrunner is leaving at least 1 season late, IMO.

  13. GeoDiva says:

    I get what they are trying to do with Maddie, a young talented performer that just needs to be on stage and sing. They are just going about it all wrong. They did mention it a little when Juliette and Rayna talked about that no one could stop their 16-year old selves back then. That is the angle they should be taking. Trying to be a parent but knowing that you went through the same thing at their age. Since both Deacon and Rayna are performers, they should be able to relate and feel the quandary that they are in. Having Cash, Frankie, etc… be a part of it is what is dragging the story down. Lennon Stella is very talented, it just sucks that she is bogged down with this.

    • Deb Mac says:

      Agreed! It would’ve been far more interesting to see Maddie & Daphne trying to record together and Maddie still kind of trying to pull away from being in a duo with her baby sister, feeling her oats. BUT NO CASH!!!!! You know, kind of like what we saw last season. That was realistic. This storyline is insane and stupid and I want it dead.

  14. linda Heikkinen says:

    I loved Nashville, however now it is just stupid. I always hate shows that make the kids whiny and Bratty . Because of this story line, I have quit watching Nashville.

  15. bmac_mama says:

    Clearly, Rayna and Deke need to download the “find my iphone” app. No teen girl is leaving home without their phone. Ever.

    • dpl says:

      So True..LOL

    • the girl says:

      This is the difference between parents and non-parents because I completely never thought of this. And knowing that this was an option makes me hate this drama even more. And what is wrong with Cash? I don’t even care. That’s the point. I don’t care.

  16. Paul Ketz says:

    Amen! Well said and exactly what this devoted Nashville viewer was thinking!

  17. Should have brought in new showrunners for this season. The Maddie storyine is terrible. I briefly enjoyed Juliette’s return, but I also don’t like where that storyline is going with Layla. This season has been so bad, and I don’t see any reason it will get better by the finale.

  18. iakovos says:

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! And once more… AMEN!

  19. I don’t get all the Maddie hate-Daphne’s more bratty& annoying than her and they several other, worse characters that should go before Maddie-Layla,Luke,Vita,Frankie,Cash,Autumn,Riff.Sure Maddies sort of annoying but that’s just being a teen.

    • dpl says:

      Keep Luke, the rest can go.

      • skyebright8 says:

        Agree his storyline as competition with Rayna and looking after Will is ok. I agree with a commentator below about bringing back Kevin and Sadie. Make the next season about the five main couples and get rid of all the excess characters taking time up.

  20. cuius says:

    So unreal – whose ever heard of show-business offspring going off the rails?

  21. sladewilson says:

    I can’t with Maddie. Enough already

  22. Lauren says:

    Preach

  23. dpl says:

    If the writers want to keep their fan base, they really need to re-think this one. Maddie is acting like a spoiled brat, and any real judge would laugh this out of court. Emancipation, you have got to be kidding! This kid is far from abused. Rayna and Deacon should have had the police remove her from the home and gone to court to file a petition to get control over her. And yes a restraining order, she is a minor. At this point I hope they write her out, with mental health issues she’s annoying. Rayna crying on the porch? So out of character. Bring back Mama Bear.
    Get rid of Cash and her father with his annoying voice. Amber can go too. Bring Back Sadie and Kevin. And for God’s sake more MUSIC. Turn this mess around before it’s too late. So many better characters to work with.

  24. Norah says:

    Hallelujah and amen.

  25. Summer says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for this, for voicing the frustration of many Nashville fans and for sticking up for what made/still makes Nashville great. I love this show and still believe in it. Nashville’s got heart and soul, and it could really use a renewed focus on its core characters and on making music.
    So, bring back the music and focus on the character-driven drama of a strong core (Rayna, Deacon, Juliette, Avery, Scarlett, Gunnar, possibly Will and Layla) and let them change and grow as characters. Let Rayna be more than a label head, Deacon be more than angry, Juliette be more than a drama queen, Avery be more than broken, Will be more than gay, Layla be more than … Layla. Let this show be an opportunity to show that people need not be defined by their demons but can choose to grow and move on. Also, reduce the number of randoms and newbies, send the remaining characters (including the children) off into the periphery and let the core cast shine. They are the reason we watch this show!
    And yes, give Deacon and Rayna the space to be the newlyweds that we love and that we’ve been rooting for since the pilot. Let them be happy together, while dealing with normal life challenges and being a rock to others. Don’t let them be reduced to tears and despair by this unrealistic, half-baked and indeed ‘maddening’ Maddie storyline.

  26. lisa says:

    100,000% agree!!!!

  27. Day says:

    I honestly hope that Maddie is knocked down a few pegs on finding out that whatever lawyer she talked to is full of it, and that most states require an emancipated minor to be able to be financial independent. And that if she argues that point – that she’s going to be a megastar recording artist – that Rayna sues the pants off of her for breach of contract, as emancipated minors are legally liable and responsible.

  28. NashvilleFan says:

    Spot on!

  29. Andrea says:

    I want TPTB to pull a Good Wife move like was done with Kalinda’s husband. Just end the storyline NOW. I don’t care how. Just do it.

  30. leash10 says:

    I can’t figure out Cash’s end game and why she is SO invested in a 16 year old girl. I need to hear Maddie sing more (with her sis) and whine less. Really, I want to hear our Nashville faves singing more in general.

  31. Tom says:

    I am still 2 episodes behind but I gotta stay say I can not STAND Maddie’s character. She is nothing but a spoiled little brat. Her character is given way too much screen time to begin with. I would rather see some plots developed around Daphne then continue down the Maddie road.

  32. Jill says:

    This exactly is why the show was in desperate need of new showrunners! Who in the world would have ever thought anyone in their right mind would want to watch this storyline?!!

  33. Here Here! This is a ridiculous story and a waste of space in that 41 minute window each week.

  34. Kait M. says:

    Frankly, just cancel the damn thing already and get Connie on a cable drama where her talent belongs. I’ve been watching solely for her all these years, and it’s just not enough anymore.

  35. steven says:

    This all started back in season 2 when she wasn’t getting along with Teddy while she was forming a relationship with Deacon and she revealed to the world that Deacon was her birth father. Then things got a little worse when she and Colt threw a wild party at her house. Now this season, with performing with Juliette and performing at the club, it’s all worse now!

  36. Celina says:

    Nobody likes Maddie. It’s funny… ABC easily fire the co-lead from Castle, but when it comes to Nashville we have to endure a bunch of horrible characters, that NOBODY LIKES. Please, fire THESE PEOPLE. We already have a lot of beloved characters.

  37. A fan of TV says:

    Ha! What was our first clue? The ‘I-hope-Maddie-gets-run-over-by-a-dump-truck’ bit was the obvious shot for me, but really it was evident long before that. Really, TVLine is beating this one even harder than I can’t get past how stupid and convoluted Dexter got by the end! ;)

  38. Boiler says:

    Such a great article. I always watch the show but this is so spot on. Please email to Nashville show folks and ABC. Would love to see a 5th season with fewer characters.

  39. Ella Jasper says:

    I hope the new EP’s at Nashville are begging ABC to give them a chance and promising they will get away from this story line and all the minor characters you mentioned. Does someone want the show to fail? I am so sick of Maddie, Cash, Frankie, Vita, Autumn, Riff, Colt. Seriously, people, what are you doing? Get the regulars on the stage and save this show before it is too late.

    • skyebright8 says:

      Agree the show should focus on Rayna/Deacon, Juliette/Avery, Gunnar/Scarlett, Will/Kevin and Sadie/Luke and their music, no one cares about all these other random characters

  40. Carol Schellhorn says:

    We can only hope!! Maddie’s character sets such a bad example for teens. Do us all a favor and send her away to boarding school before she ends up in rehab or worse. What were the writers thinking.

  41. Anna says:

    So agree!!! The Maddie storyline is a bore to watch and I cannot understand why Cash is so invested in helping Maddie do all of these things in the first place. Now that’s she’s back I was hoping the show would focus more on Juliette and we could get away from this story. Maybe Juliette can give Maddie some much needed advice, since teenagers hate to listen to what their parents say.

  42. Jenn says:

    Amen! This show has way too many characters.

  43. Danielle says:

    I’m usually so excited to watch Nashville on Wednesdays. I have my DVR set in case I’m not home, busy or tired and can’t watch live. I live in CO and have a friend in WI that posts messages on my FB wall when he’s done watching before I can watch live. Last night I let it go to DVR and Netflixed The West Wing. My priority tonight is to get caught up on my Tuesday shows and The Americans before I watch last night’s Nashville. Maybe watch the Prince episode of New Girl…

  44. Velma says:

    She is never happy. She wanted her mom to marry her father not Luke. She got her way and still isn’t happy. Write her off….PLEASE.

  45. leo21 says:

    I was irritated at the storyline – until she mentioned emancipation. I would feel bad for Rayna but that would mean that she could be written off to pursue pop stardom without having to endure watching her reach 18. I can’t see a judge in their right mind setting her free so I have a bad feeling we are stuck with her. Here’s hoping that she has a life changing epiphany that stops her from being a self absorbed brat and that gives Cash all she deserves!

  46. greysfan says:

    Somebody had to say it. LOL I’m also missing out on more Scarlett and Gunnar music. Love Lennon playing the bratty Maddie. Said she is too young to know the movie Single White Female. I think she wouldn’t give Cash that much control over her. Why yell at Deacon, she didn’t seem to like the dude pawing at her either. Next time hit Starbucks.

  47. Amy H says:

    Amen! If they’re looking for ratings to pick up, this is NOT the way to do it. Every time I think they’ve recovered from these ridiculous storylines, another one pops up. I don’t know of anyone who’s interested in Maddie’s storyline. More music, less angst.

  48. Patty says:

    This article said exactly what I was thinking. I realize it’s just TV, but I watch to relax and escape from my own problems for a while. However, I won’t keep watching this. I hate the Maddie storyline, and I agree there has been too much emphasis on minor characters and annoying storylines and not enough songs. I enjoyed the song by Layla. It’s too bad. This used to be one of my favorite shows.