Soap opera style shows, like ABC’s “Nashville,” love to make couples and break them up. The problem with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Scarlett’s (Clare Bowen) sweet relationship is that it ended way too soon. The unsatisfying finish to their affair had a domino effect on the rest of the show. It left the door open for regrettable plotlines that nearly destroyed our love of the two characters as individuals. We can easily think of five ways the show would have been even better if this duo had stayed together.
1. Gunnar and Scarlett would still be making beautiful music together.
The exquisite harmonies Bowen and Palladio created were a huge part of the draw to the first season of “Nashville.” Their voices blended for an enticing mix of love, longing, and melancholy. This was the perfect emotional soundtrack for the show, their heartfelt lyrics tying all of the characters’ melodramas together.
Songs like “If I Didn’t Know Better” hooked us onto these soulful characters who we hoped would live happily ever after as a brilliant duet. Busting this couple up broke our hearts and put an end to some of the finest music “Nashville” has ever offered.
2. No more bad friend Zoey.
Zoey (Chaley Rose) was inexplicably introduced in season two of “Nashville” as Scarlett’s best friend we’d never heard of. The fact that Zoey and Scarlett had zero chemistry as BFFs made it feel even more implausible. Once Zoey started dating Scarlett’s ex, it destroyed any possible narrative of true friendship.
The mess of hurt feelings, tantrums, and rotating silent treatments in this love triangle got unbearable after a while, damaging our affection for characters who had become so bitter and petty. If Scarlett and Gunnar had remained a couple, we could have enjoyed and empathized with Zoey’s quest for fame. Even if she had a crush on Gunnar, there would be a workable plot that wouldn’t have to descend into so much in-fighting.
3. No more bad chemistry.
We hate to pick on Zoey again, but her relationship with Gunnar felt about as real as her friendship with Scarlett. Fans had to suffer through Gunnar acting like a domineering, inconsiderate dumb male, and Zoey constantly bitter about something he’d done wrong. Meanwhile, Scarlett was rebounding with Avery (Jonathan Jackson). Her heart was still with Gunnar while his eye was wandering to Juliette. All this nonsense could have been avoided if the couple with actual smoldering chemistry had stayed together.
4. Scarlett’s horrific solo phase could have been avoided.
Was there anything worse on “Nashville” than Scarlett’s solo career? Doomed from the start, viewers were forced to watch our lovable poet fall apart piece by piece each week. A character we once loved became an irritating, irrational mess who was either lashing out or having an emotional breakdown.
Even now that she’s better, Scarlett has taken her hobo chic look to the limit. With her drippy outfits and scraggly hair cape, she looks more homeless than actually homeless character Terry (Mykelti Williamson.) If Gunnar had only stayed with her, they could be happily doing duets around town in respectable clothes.
5. They could have changed the whole dynamic with Gunnar’s family.
Gunnar discovering he has a son created realistically tough issues in his relationship with Zoey. Unfortunately, the message about a woman wanting to pursue her own dreams rather than be tied to an instant family was lost on viewers. Disgruntled fans were mostly thinking, “Whoo-hoo, Zoey’s gone!” rather than having any sympathy for the character.
Scarlett would have taken on the role of mother figure more easily, and the three would have made a sweet new family. Since Scarlett does have ambitions of her own, the writers could have still introduced the same struggle over responsibilities. Viewers would have cared a lot more about a long-term couple they believed in.
Gunnar just discovered (spoiler alert!) in the midseason “Nashville” finale that Micah (Gunnar Sizemore) is actually his brother’s son and not his. We’re thinking he’ll still want to have a big role in the boy’s life. The episode left us with a distraught Gunnar looking for consolation from Scarlett, so a romantic reconciliation between these two might be in the works. If nothing else, we hope the band will still perform together. Avery’s voice blends well with this duo, and as long as we get more of Scarlett and Gunnar’s sweet music, we’re all for it.
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