Now, to Speculate: Why Was ‘Nashville’ Canceled?
The news came as a particular shock, since there had been some recent indications that the show might get the green light for a fifth season, with some new behind-the-scenes people working on potential storylines.
The news led upset fans up to post all kinds of theories online, starting with the notion that the show had faltered in the ratings because it had been "promoting the gay agenda" with a recent storyline about an openly gay country singer.
Some viewers also allege that some of the "liberal" actors in the cast might not have wanted to shoot and live in Tennessee anymore in the wake of recent legislation that series star Connie Britton called "un-American." Gov. Bill Haslam signed house Bill 1840 into law in April, allowing counselors and therapists to deny service to potential clients who they feel would violate their “sincerely held principles," which many feel can be interpreted as denying counseling services to LGBT Tennesseans.
As entertaining as it can be to read online rants, in the end Nashville's demise probably comes down to the same thing cancellations always come down to: money. The show teetered on the brink of cancellation for several seasons, kept alive by having part of its production costs offset by money from the city and state, as well as DVR numbers and additional revenue from online sales of the music from the show each week.
Season 4 wasn't easy. Hayden Panettiere was absent from the screen for a lot of the year while she dealt with postpartum depression, and while the writers tried to work that into her character, it wasn't an especially rewarding story arc for viewers.
In the end 'Nashville''s demise probably comes down to the same thing cancellations always come down to: money.
The Nashville writers didn't help things by introducing some unpopular storylines about an openly gay country singer facing open hostility from narrow-minded country music fans and programmers, as well as Maddie Conrad — played by Lennon Stella — suing her mother, Rayna Jaymes, for emancipation so she could get out from under her record deal, among others. When the star-crossed love of Deacon Claybourne and Rayna was the focus of so much of the show in the past, fans could see themselves in that couple and root for them, but it's hard for most viewers to look at the TV and say, "Man, don't you just hate when your teenage daughter sues you for emancipation so she can sign with another label?"
This year took away fans' happily-ever-after fantasies for Deacon and Rayna, too, by seeing them finally get married, only to immediately go into one unhappy crisis after another. In the end, that may have been the thing that finally did Nashville in ... watch this show week after week, and eventually you might think, 'Wow, it's a lot of hard work to watch this show and find something to be happy about; maybe I'll watch something else.'
In the end, that's exactly what fans did, with ratings in Season 4 drawing nearly 2 million fewer viewers than at the series' first season. Less ratings mean less ad money, and less ad money means less profit for the network. Less profit for the network eventually means cancellation. It's TV 101.
And so we say goodbye to Nashville, unless it's picked up by another network ... but the show will always live on in the hearts and minds of its fans, and in syndication.
'Nashville' Stars Respond to Cancellation
See More Country Stars Who've Acted