ABC’s “Nashville” Cast’s Real Life Counterparts

October 17, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  41 Comments

Like most fictional characters in popular culture, the characters of ABC’s new drama Nashville are probably based more on stereotypes than real-life folks. But for fun, let’s see if we can’t match up who the real-life inspiration is for the principals of the Nashville cast, and through the experiment see if the show really does represent all aspects of the Nashville music scene.

Nashville Character: Rayna Jaymes

Real Life Counterpart(s): Reba McEntire and/or Martina McBride

“Well you can kiss my decision as it’s walking out the door.”

Aging country pop queen concerned about her sagging skin has to worry about the kiddos running under foot and the budding buxom starlet on the rise trying to trample her career. On the outside she sticks to her principles, but on the inside she will do whatever she can to save her stardom.

Nashville Character: Juliette Barnes

Real Life Counterpart: Taylor Swift? No, girl from Dale Watson’s “Country My Ass”

“Oh, I’m always nice.”

Out of all of the Nashville characters, this is probably the one most based on a stereotype instead of an actual person. The creators of the show have said Juliette is not supposed to be Taylor Swift. Swift is seen as the proper, good girl who doesn’t use Auto-tune, while Juliette Barnes nails anything she can to get ahead except the proper note. The mold that fits Juliette Barns perfectly can be found in a Dale Watson song. “She can’t sing a lick, and in a bucket, she couldn’t carry her tune. She’s pretty as a picture, and she sure has a nice set of…wits. And she misses her producer that seduced her–I mean produced her a hit.”

Nashville Character: Lamar Wyatt

Real Life Counterpart: Mike Curb

“That’s alright if you see me as your enemy. Don’t you be foolish enough to make that a two-way street. ‘Cause my enemies don’t fare too damn well.”

Just like Mike Curb using the money he usurped from country music artists to spread his name all across Nashville under the guise of charity and civic duty, Lamar Wyatt wants a new baseball stadium and is willing to use his money and influence to appoint a puppet mayor of Nashville that he can use to run the city through behind-the-scenes. These old-guard aristocratic megalomaniacs are like two peas in a pod.

Nashville Character: Scarlett O’Connor

Real Life Counterpart: Caitlin Rose

“They’re just poems, not songs.”

A reluctant, timid songwriter that lacks nothing in talent either as a writer or performer, that when coaxed into action can rear back and command a crowd with both passion and skill.

Nashville Character: Gunnar Scott

Real Life Counterpart: Justin Townes Earle

“I guess I’m just naturally suspicious of anyone that confident.”

Long, lanky, a songwriter, and a gentleman (as opposed to the “punk country” Avery Barkley), he’s more Americana than country, symbolizing the new independent approach to Nashville that emphasizes artistic appeal and substance as opposed to commercial success.

Nashville Character: Avery Barkley

Real Life Counterpart: Ryan Adams

“It’s kind of an alt-country punk, but more cerebral.”

Dangerous sideburns and a confident swagger, the chicks swoon over him and his bad boy persona and rock star attitude. But watch out, he’ll probably do them wrong.

Nashville Character: Deacon Claybourne

Real Life Counterpart: David Rawlings

“I promise to not use it as a coaster.”

The consummate loyal sideman whose an excellent guitar player and an accomplished songwriter himself. A true music good guy whose willing to lurk in the shadows most of the time to allow good music to come to life. Whether there’s something romantic going on with the boss or not, it’s easy to assume there is.

Nashville Character: Glenn – Juliette Barnes’ Manager

Real Life Counterpart: A Young Scott Borchetta

“Take the money and run.”

Savvy, slick, new-school business man who Svengali’s a young starlet into signing with him so he can springboard to a seven-figure music executive career in the coming years. Glenn is a Scott Borchetta starter kit.


41 Comments to “ABC’s “Nashville” Cast’s Real Life Counterparts”

  • Good call !


  • As an inattentive, dwadling senior citizen I’ll admit I had trouble in the debut episode differentiating between the younger (ie under 40) male music artists and keeping straight just who was who! I wish they had picked actors that looked far more different from each other than they currently do. When the Juliette character was seducing the different guys I couldn’t remember who they were exactly. There are just too dang many young Billy Dean lookalikes on that show! (lol)

    Since you mentioned David Rawlings, maybe that means the Scarlett character should instead be representative of Gillian Welch rather than Caitlin Rose? Hmm…

    My guess is if Eric Church watched the show he’d think the Gunnar character was based upon himself. Its that whole faux-outlaw delusional syndrome.


  • I read on Lindi Ortega’s Facebook page she is going to be on the show and have a song featured as well. I refuse to watch it though.


  • I watched the premier again. Not sure if the show will hold my interested for very long. You were spot on in your picks. Especially the girl in Dale’s song.


  • Wasn’t the girl in the Dale song actually a reference to Shania Twain (and producer Mutt Lange)?

    Anyway, I was holding out hope that T-Bone’s influence on the show would steer it in the right direction. Like most network shows, unfortunately, it lazily relies on tired cliches rather than take an honest attempt at developing characters. I want to like it, but it is more like Dynasty in Nashville. Here’s to hoping they can right the ship. But I’m not holding my breath.


    • Your right on the Shania Twain part. Some of his live shows on you tube when he got to that part he would say Shania Twain when he said in a bucket she couldn’t carry her tunes.

      I also saw a video on you tube where he says Taylor Swift at that part. I’m like you on the show. so far I’m not impressed.


  • I agree w/ all your picks. Whether the producers admit it or not, I really think Juliette’s character is based on Taylor. There are just too many coincidences. The fact that she can’t sing, uses autotune (Taylor does on her new album), and the fact that she has a massive teen girl fan base. Just so Taylor.


    • I think your right and I agree with you. After watching the second episode I saw to many coincidences.


      • Loga you went WAY TOO FAR this time with your malicious slander. Calling Carrie a “porn star?” Yeah right. If she is a Porn star then Britney Spears is a Nun.

        Carrie dresses classy on every occasion at every award show. She looks stunning and you seem like a jealous catty hater. She is a nice person and has no scandels or any bad reputation for anything. She doesn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, get arrested, or sleep around. She is nice to all her fans and does alot of charity work.

        Taylor “comes off” as sweet but she is fake as the day is long. How many times will she use that same plastic “Shock Face” that even annoyed Blake Shelton to the point that he called her on it at the ACMS? Everyone talks about it. Even for award shows that are fan voted and they tell the winners in advance, Taylor still shows that annoying fake Shock face, trying to convince everyone she is the sweetest little thing,

        I have friends in Cape Cod who say she DID crash that Kennedy wedding, and that most of the Kennedys can’t stand her as she tipped off the press so they would get those beach pictures of her with Connor just in time for her album promo buzz. She is a very calculating smart business woman, not the little girl she comes off as.

        And last time I checked– Taylor is not a very good role modell as she teaches young girls that it is acceptable to publicly humiliate and trash every boy they date if it does not work out, no matter who is at fault. She uses them for song material, and told magazines this week she enjoys making them squirm when she writes songs about them. She loves hurting people and uses boys like pawns in her game.
        That is not the kind of behavior I would want my future children to emmulate. Not a good role model at all. She never takes any responsibility for any failed “relationship”, if you can call it that. She dates them 1 month for tabloid pictures and then it is over. Good role model.


    • I would actually say that her character is based on more of a Carrie Underwood type. Always wearing something that leaves almost nothing to the imagination. And a bitchy type. I’ve always heard that Carrie is pretty rude. I’ve never heard anyone say such about Taylor. Like her music or not, she’s done nothing, as far as I know, to make anyone not like her.


      • Uh. No. I’ve heard Carrie is one of the sweetest people ever. I’ve met her, she was nothing but nice. Are you a troll?


        • A friend of mines mother is friends with some of her family. Even they say that the fame has changed her. I’ve heard from numerous people that she is rude. I’m happy that she was nice to you. Since when is posting a legitimate post being a troll? From every thing I’ve ever heard, Taylor is a much better person than Carrie. I’m sorry if you disagree.


          • The fact that you are willing to put Taylor up on some pedestal and trash Carrie is a red flag right there. :)


          • One, I’m not putting Taylor on a pedestal. I’m simply stating that I’ve never heard anything but great things about her. The same cannot be said for Carrie. Everytime she gets on stage at an award show, she looks like she’s trying out for a softcore porn movie. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but compared to Swift, she comes off as less of a genuine good girl. She’s certainly not a role model.


          • Alright folks, this is an article about THE NASHVILLE TV SHOW. We are not going to solve the Taylor/Carrie debate here. So please, say your peace, but then move on and agree to disagree. Thanks!


      • Loga- that is simply not true at sll. Hayden herself told MTV and other outlets that her character is not based on either Carrie or Taylor. She did say she watched Carrie on videos to copy her stage presence as she admires Carrie as a live performer.

        Carris is a happily married sweet Christian girl who goes to church every week and reads the Bible on her tour bus. She has never had any scandels and always conducts herself in a classy manner. She has never had a bad reputation for any sleeping around like Juliett’s character but is clean cut and nice.

        Carrie wouldnt even live with her husband before marriage due to her beliefs- so for you to imply she is some trashy slut is uncalled for and quite ludicrous.

        I have met Carrie and she was very sweet- taking time to sign autographs for her fans and nice to everyone. If you dont believe me ask Brad Paisely. They are best friends and even their spouses hang out.

        Carrie is a sweet shy girl and has a good reputation. No way is Juliette basedon her- just her stage presence per Hayden.


      • Loga- you are so wrong. I met Carrie and she is nice to all her fans and to everyone. But she is a little shy and reserved. Some take that the wrong way and think she is standoffish, but the truth is, she is shy. She has admitted recently that she is painfully shy and socially awkward, and that she used to suffer from panic attacks in crowds as well. She is very nice actually– just not a social butterfly or fake like some celebs. Everyone has their “story” but I have heard many many things about the REAL Taylor Swift, and she is nothing like the person she pretends to be publicly. Heck, she has had more boyfriends then Lindsey Lohan, and she discards them like trash when she is done, or they dump her when they see the real Taylor.


    • Jason- I agree. Taylor is very similar to the cutthroat, fake personality of Juliette, who pretends to be sweet and innocent to sell massive records to her teen pop fanbase.

      In fact, Juliette even said as much last week. She said she is sick of selling records to only preteen pop fans: HINT HINT– Taylor Swift’s entire fanbase! lol

      Also, they mention twice that Juliette cannot sing well, and that is Taylor through and through. Taylor claims not to use autotune, but she definitely lip synced a few times. Even then she still sounds bad. She will never be a good singer and even the best studio tricks cannot make her voice sound palatable. Live, it is horrendous.

      But the thing is: Hayden has a pretty decent voice, so in reality, she is a much better singer then Taylor swift, so I am surprised they went there with that angle. I guess to model after Taylor, again.


      • “Taylor is very similar to the cutthroat, fake personality of Juliette, who pretends to be sweet and innocent to sell massive records to her teen pop fanbase.”

        Why don’t you try to meet Taylor Swift and say all this to her face? Internet slander under an anonymous handle is cowardly, especially coming from someone who knows absolutely nothing about Taylor or her biography.

        “but she definitely lip synced a few times”

        Prove this or shut up about it. Making up your own facts is very different from putting out your opinion.

        “She will never be a good singer and even the best studio tricks cannot make her voice sound palatable. Live, it is horrendous.”

        Here are some videos that you should check out:

        2009 George Strait tribute (she performed “Run”)
        Taylor Swift on the bus (shows a whole bunch of performances from 2007)
        “Mean” performance at 2011 ACM, and 2012 Grammy
        “Begin Again” performance at 2012 CMA
        “Ours” performance at 2011 CMA (just her and her guitar)

        And there are countless other videos of her performing in small settings that you could easily find if you were the slightest bit interested in actually learning about Taylor instead of making stuff up about her.


  • As far as Rayna, I thought more along the lines of Faith Hill and Martina McBride. The “controversy” that came about at the 2006 CMA awards w/ Faith when Carrie Underwood won Female Vocalist come to mind.


    • Jason it was Taylor Swift who won and Faith made the terrible “WHAT” face!!


  • Good calls except for Juliette Barnes. I get Carrie Underwood… manufactured, calculating, and pretentious. Although I never listened to or owned a Taylor Swift album (or Carrie Underwoods for that matter), I met Swift on a few occasions and she comes off as genuine as anyone in the business.
    Gunner as Justin Townes Earle is perfect and I wish I would have thought of it myself.
    Comparing anyone to Scott Borchette is an insult, unless they were paying the part of Hilter or Jerry Sandusky.


    • Are you a troll? Carrie is not calculating or pretentious. I’ve met her and she is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.


    • Matthew – Carrie Underwood doesnt have a calculating bone in her body. I think you must ve confusing her with Taylor Swift- who us very aggressive and cutthroat. How many more years will Taylor give the same fake shock face at award shows she knew she won? Heck even Blake Shelton called her on it at the ACMs.

      Carrie is genuine and lacks confidence in herself if anything.


    • Matthew –Taylor’s got her sweet 12 year old shock face act down pat- and sadly people Buy into it. But she is a 23 year old aggressive business saavy women who admits she plans her every move- down to her annoying fake shock face at award shows. But that girl is vindictive. Cross her and she will write some crappy boy bashing song about you and publicly humilate you for sport. Taylor is definitely Juliette. She would eat her own young for a number one record- and Tàylor goea through boyfriends like socks. It seems like she uses boys for marketing tools whenever ahe has a new album about to drop.

      Carrie is a nice person with alotof jealous haters sadly. She may not be your cup of tea but she is a nice person who is very kind to her fans. She also does alot of charity work but doesn’t brag about it like Taylor with her press releases every time she sneezes.


  • Re: Juliette, I’m not really seeing the Taylor Swift resemblance. One key difference I noticed in this week’s episode is that, while Taylor still seems to be pandering to her teenybopper base with songs like WANEGBT and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” Juliette comes across as rather embarrassed by her young fans and is hell-bent on being taken more seriously (hence her pursuit of Deacon, who had helped Rayna in her rise to fame).


  • Gene- you never know what Taylor really thinks about her Teen pop fans. She is a 23 year old business Saavy cutthroat woman, pretending to be a 15 year old teen girl to sell as many records as possible to her teen fanbase. That is EXACTLY what Juliette is doing on Nashville: pandering to the teens to sell more records. Juliette may not like it, but she does it. I am not sure how Taylor feels, but her new songs are just as juvenile as ever, so she seems to be pandering to the same teen fan base as usual.

    On her new album, she clearly abandoned country music altogether, and even RollingStone Magazine said as much. They said there is nothing left of Nashville in Taylor or the record. They liked it as a pop cd, but not country.


  • I’d just like to say Carrie Underwood is nothing but a sweetheart. Anyone who says otherwise just doesn’t know her. She’s kinds, gracious, classy, and caring… She’s one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and she is genuinely a down-home girl from Oklahoma, that has not changed at all.


  • Hey, maybe I’m wrong. It’s happen before. My apologies to all Carrie underwood fans. It’s nice to have this debate though about a T.V. show that caters to all our interests.


  • Personally I was thinking Reba for Rayna but now I’m leaning more toward Faith. What I’d like to know is there any famous older country music star that dated their guitarist or another singer they did a duet with? That has also did a duet with a younger country artist? Anyway as far as Juliettte I was thinking Carrie, not that she is mean but just bc they look more alike and the other girl on the show that writes poems and works in the bar reminds me more (looks wise) of Taylor Swift. For some reason elements of this show seem very true to life. Anyway I love the show and thinking that they may of based some of the show on reality makes it even more interesting! It’s also possible they combined some artists for instance Juliette sounds a lot like Julianne ( Hough)!


  • No,No,No…I’ts Faith HILL as Rayna
    Miranda Lambert as Julliette
    Taylor Swift as Scarlett


  • Can we add Eddie Vedder to the list after last week?


  • Great article. As the guy who plays GLENN on the show, I’ve heard a number of theories as to who my character is modeled after. I’m getting the sense that he’s kind of a mixtape of lotsa manager types. I must research Mr. Borchetta further. Keep watching! And thanks for supporting the show.


  • Not sure if anyone will see this or not, but this is a great piece on the similar appearances of the men of “Nashville”:


    They also do episode recaps of the show which are a pretty fun read.


    • Nice!


      • And how cool that you got a comment (right above mine) from one of the show’s actors!

        I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago (thanks to that brilliant “review” of Florida Georgia Line–priceless stuff!) and love it. Thanks!


  • Based on last week’s episode:

    Marshall Evans = Mike Curb

    It’s incredibly obvious. The heavy-handed oppression of artists, the threats of greatest hits albums…it all points to Curb. That “greatest hits” threat storyline, in particular, seems to have been written directly based on Tim McGraw’s experience with Curb.


  • Also,

    Liam McGuinnis= probably Jack White (rocker who opened studio in Nashville and produces older country singers) but maybe Brendan O’Brien, rocker who produced Faith Hill’s latest, which seems to be on hold.


  • No Texas, Jason is right. When I think of Connie and Hayden’s characters I think of Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood. When Carrie beat Faith for artist of the year (or something similar) Faith made the WHAT face. I think they are copying that rivarly and cranking it up a notch.


    • Agree.


  • I think Layla is suppose to be Taylor. Juliette even makes a comment about her not being from the South.


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