Though grief is a circuitous journey full of setbacks and bad days, Nashville co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz would like you to know that Rayna Jaymes’ friends and loved ones are coming out of the worst of it.
And so, though the redheaded country music star will continue to be a presence when the CMT drama returns on Thursday, June 1 (9/8c), don’t expect the back half of the season to be a weeping, wailing rehash of her untimely death.
“What we’ve always tried to do in our shows in the past is respect the real stakes” of characters’ lives, Herskovitz says, referring to his work with co-showrunner Ed Zwick on series like thirtysomething and My So-Called Life.
What that means for Nashville: Don’t expect Deacon, Maddie, Daphne and the rest of Music City to bounce back from their profound sadness in a few weeks’ time… but as time passes, don’t expect them to be consumed by it, either.
“This loss is so profound,” Herskovitz says, adding that the series’ time jump means we’re picking up with the characters about 10 weeks since the events of the finale. “It’s something that affects you for the rest of your life. It’s not something you get over in two episodes.” Still, as we saw in the trailer released earlier this week, Deke and the girls are getting back to life — and the drama that goes along with it (cough homeless teen in the house cough) — starting with the midseason premiere.
The questions they’ll struggle with, he says, include, “Am I allowed to have joy in my life? What do I do with this relentless feeling?” And when the loss hits them the hardest, “You’ll see each of the three break down,” he adds, but “not necessarily in the first episode.”
As the season builds toward its finale, the EP continues, he hopes it’ll represent an accurate portrayal of how families dealing with crushing grief soldier on. And there’ll still be music, comedy and intrigue mixed in, he adds, promising that the mix “doesn’t lead to the show being a depressing memorial to Rayna’s memory.”