We all watch Nashville for various reasons. One of those reasons is the very complex characters. We all have our favorites. The ones we feel, understand and identify with the most. Sometime it’s a character who remind us of us, sometimes it’s a character that embody qualities we appreciate and maybe even admire and sometimes it’s a character that just touch a soft place in our hearts. All the characters on Nashville have flaws and we all found ourselves wanting to hug them, yell at them or roll our eyes at them like they were real people.
Last time on our Nashville Characters Defense Series we talked about Gunnar. Now, let’s look at the woman that pulled the good music out of him – Scarlett O’Connor.
To paraphrase Simon de Beauvoir– Scarlett wasn’t born a woman but she sure is taking the long journey to get there and become one.
When we first met Scarlett she was a young naïve and talented girl that the only two things that made her comfortable were writing poems and standing by her man. She was the cliché of a classic female care-taker with the soul of a poet. It’s very romantic and all but from a character like that we usually expect one of three things: Have some big revelation that will turn her to an independence pierce woman; have some tragic event that will turn her into a tragic victim or settle for being a secondary character as “the girlfriend”, “the wife” or in her case “the niece”. But Scarlett is not one to follow rules and in fact she’s much more complicated than any of these choices.
In her journey so far we can find moments and elements of all of the above. She did have some wake up calls that forced her to stand up for herself and be fierce; she has a history of abuse and for the entire first season was always someone’s girlfriend (and Deacon is always high maintenance). She’s all of it and none of it at the same time. She’s simply…Scarlett. What does “simply Scarlett” mean? And why should we root for her?
Tora (@ToraLiliedahl) offers some answers and explain to us what’s so great and special in the artist that prefers to whisper.
“During Nashville’s winter finale Scarlett drags a reluctant Deacon around Memphis to find a karaoke bar for him to sing in. She is doing her best to cheer him up and make him forget about that dreaded wedding back in Nashville. She even promises him she’ll back him up. When they’re up on stage singing Elvis’ ”It’s Alright, Mama”, there is no trace of that girl who wanted to give up music and Nashville all together a couple of months earlier!
Who is Scarlett O’Connor and what led up to this joyous moment that up until recently seemed so unlikely?
To me that sound like an accurate description.
Scarlett seemed to be somewhat shy and hesitant the beginning, e.g. when doing the demo for Watty White and later, When she got her record deal, she was so uncomfortable putting herself at the front! She had no confidence and felt lost and lonely. Then finally came the day, the incident on the stage, when she seemed to have been pushed too far! She could also be self-effacing, always being so supportive even when Avery, and later also Gunnar’s bad boy criminal persona, treated her badly.
On the other hand, when Scarlett thought Avery had slept with Marilyn, that was it for her, he was out! Gunnar being arrested – bailing him out was the last thing she was going to do for him. When her beloved uncle Deacon whined and felt awfully sorry for himself after the accident, she kept it short and simple: “Man up!” And finally when Juliette did not stop her jealous bitching on the tour, she ignored her instruction to “make noise” on stage and instead, very blatantly, defied her from behind the piano and started “whispering” her new song.
Because Scarlett prefers to whisper, she doesn’t like to scream and shout and that give people (including herself at times) the wrong idea about it because whispering usually goes together with weakness. But the truth is that Scarlett may be a bit shy and have a bad self-confidence, but she isn’t weak or a pushover.
That’s why I also think that although THE incident was, of course, very scary, Avery got it wrong when he repeatedly called Scarlett ”vulnerable”. She is not that vulnerable and he really should have paid more attention to his current girlfriend, Juliette Barnes, since she is far more vulnerable. That’s because that in contrast to Scarlett, Juliette is very insecure at heart and needs constant feedbacks that she’s loved and desired.
The way I see it, Scarlett’s choice to whisper comes from a different place altogether that has nothing to do from fragility but everything to do with her desire to avoid conflicts at (almost) any cost. That is why it takes a while for her to speak up, saying what she wants or doesn’t, and shove caffeine pills and alcohol down her throat to handle the chaos.
Related: Gunnar Scott – Can’t Get it Right
Growing up with an abusive mother can leave all sorts of scars, and for Scarlett it meant bad self-confidence, and I also believe a fear of conflicts. Scarlett doesn’t shout and fight; she is the mediator, the one keeping up the good spirits in a relationship, keeping her own emotions inside while making sure everyone else is happy.
She probably learnt this very well as a child defusing bad situations to avoid upsetting her mother. This kind of behavior becomes a habit but Scarlett does it only to a point. Enough is enough, and then she politely tells people so! Cause one thing her upbringing did not give her was low self-esteem. Scarlett actually has great self-esteem. She feels secure being herself…If only people would let her!
After the incident, Rayna again asks Scarlett ”Do you want this?” And Scarlett answered “No, I don’t want this”. Rayna seems to have made it into an all or nothing question. Does Scarlett want to be a star? Yes or no.
But Scarlett was very specific with her reply: “I don’t want THIS!” she said. She didn’t want a situation like this, where she lets others dictate her life. She owned up to making conscious choices and decisions, no one (not Gunnar or anyone else) made her do anything. She never said no though, because she thought this was what Rayna expected of her (which it was) and she did not want any conflicts.
Scarlett didn’t want to do it Jeff’s, or Rayna’s, way and probably she thought this means she couldn’t have it at all. And if she cannot have anything, she wanted to leave Nashville and the music scene all together. Her journey during this season so far is all about Scarlett realizing that she needed the music and wanted to be an artist, on her terms.
Scarlett’s road back to Nashville was not particularly long. Taking the scenery road from Nashville with Gunnar, a very drunk Avery and some words of wisdom, was what it took to get Scarlett to realize that these two guys were more of family than she had back home. And Gunnar is so right. ”You have to learn from the past, not let it define your future.” Just because her last adventure ended with a crash, doesn’t mean she have to give it up, she just have to do it differently next time.
That making music is something she cannot let go of, took as much one whole visit to Gunnar’s house, to see Zoey actually, to understand. Where Gunnar and Scarlett are together, there is sweet music made! Just like Deacon said: ”You are more than a little responsible for his whole songwriting career”.
But so is also Gunnar responsible for her career. He makes her understand what she can do. He sees her, like Liam that actually saw her (or at least saw her talent), the way Avery really never did. She starts to write for her publishing company again. She is a defiant girl now, who instead of requested happy songs writes the songs she wants to write and the songs she believes girls ought to listen to.
Her way back to the stage takes a detour at the Bluebird where she refuses to be forced up on stage on Zoey’s surprise party. But when Terry the catalyzer asks her to join him on stage, it was different. She was just supporting him, and she is great at being supportive. She has practiced a lot. And even being in her supportive mode the text of the song must have spoken to her:
”Carry on, when you’ve lost it all, carry on, when you stumble and fall, carry on, when you have something to say, carry on, here comes a better day.”
And if it didn’t, Terry calling her a liar, or even worse, a coward for not doing what is perfectly clear to him that she wants did the trick! Next time Scarlett is on stage, it’s on her own initiative, offering to fill in for Zoey in ZAG at the winter festival. Although scared at first, she loves it, because she is up there with her friends. She feels confident and she is having fun!!! And it’s on her terms!
For the rest of the season I wish to see Scarlett trying out artist life as herself, hopefully another co-write or two with Gunnar and why not performing a duet with Rayna, because I really hope these two aren’t done with each other after all!