TV Review: ‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville’

Crazy Hearts Nashville TV Review

There's a lot more soap than docu in A&E's latest Southern-fried 'real-life' series

Dear country-music loving, Southern Christian conservatives: If you really want to punish A&E for the network’s (fleeting) suspension of “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson, by all means boycott the show the network is launching behind its signature program’s return, “Crazy Hearts: Nashville.” Because trust me, if that contingent doesn’t tune in, no one else will. Another docu-soap that’s far more sudsy than “docu,” the series assembles a group of aspiring or semi-established musicians to focus on their lives and (more often) loves. Cynically piling on the Southern-fried-TV trend, all that’s missing are I Love My Gun and Pickup Truck T-shirts.

Practically speaking, the show comes with its own built-in excuse for promoting a lot of “You done me wrong” songs as a tie-in, giving the music an organic connection to the carefully staged dramatic sequences.

As if to drive home that latter point, the whole shebang is presided over by a journalist/publicist (as billed in the press notes, anyway), Heather Byrd, who not only narrates most of what transpires but acts as the go-between in one of the struggling relationships.

One of her duties includes commiserating with Lee Holyfield, who is stuck on country rocker Leroy Powell, a love-’em-and-leave-’em type. Alas, Leroy already has moved on to singer-songwriter Hannah Fairlight, a free spirit who hooked up briefly with crooner Anthony Billups, although he’s still pining for ex-girlfriend Amy Wilcox.

Meanwhile, singer-bartender Jimmy Stanley is receiving professional encouragement from his new girlfriend, a wannabe manager named April Nemeth, because, oh honestly, who cares?

Whatever one’s view of country music, there’s almost nothing approaching an authentic note in “Crazy Hearts: Nashville,” other than its vague resemblance to ABC’s “Nashville,” and clear belief there’s an audience out there eager to watch anything that originates in their geographical zone.

The irony is that by misreading that audience during the “Duck Dynasty” flap, A&E has likely boosted ratings for its return, which should help reel in more viewers to sample “Country Hearts” — although the real test, as always, will be who comes back for an encore.

For the artists, of course, there’s little downside to this sort of promotional showcase, but nobody should confuse the series with anything more than that. Because just as several characters wear their hearts on their sleeves, A&E’s rationale for ordering “Crazy Hearts” is thoroughly transparent.

TV Review: 'Crazy Hearts: Nashville'

(Series; A&E, Wed. Jan. 15, 11 p.m.)


Produced by Eastern.


Executive producers, Toby Barraud, Stefan Springman, Mala Chapple; co-executive producers, Angela Rae Berg, Jeff Grogan. 60 MIN.


Lee Holyfield, Heather Byrd, Leroy Powell, Amy Wilcox, Anthony Billups, Jimmy Stanley, April Nemeth, Hannah Fairlight

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  1. Mrs. T says:

    I loved this show, and find that this article is written by a person who sounds as though they buy into every southern stereotype they have ever heard. The musicians casted have amazing talent, and the videos incorporated throughout season one were a nice treat as a “side note” to the story lines. As someone who has never followed contemporary country music, I give the show two thumbs up.

  2. Lala says:

    Anyone know how old Leroy Powell is and what the age difference is between him and Lee?

  3. Mike says:

    Leroy is a pig! Can’t believe A & E thinks people will watch this!

  4. Outdoorsman says:

    Too soapy for me. On the same level of Rodeo Girls. Junk.

  5. Completely disagree with you. I find the show very fun to watch. The life of Nashville is not all glitz and glam, a whole lot of disappointment and struggle happen before most people ever make a successful music career. The characters are interesting, they are talented, and they are putting their truths out there. I really don’t care about the lead in, I found it and I am not a Duck Dynasty fan at all.

  6. michele coyner says:

    I am a college educated woman and a successful professional. I caught this show while channel surfing and I was intrigued. I couldn’t get enough, so not everyone hates the show. I thought it was fun, maybe in a couple weeks I will be tired of it but upon discovery of the show I couldn’t get enough. I am not a fan of Duck’s Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo but I did think some of the music was good and I enjoyed rediscovering Waylon Holyfield.

  7. Gina says:

    I love this show…Canada, Nova Scotia loves it…..some good talent, maybe not acting but sounds good…I cant get enough of the show and hope it stays on for awhile….:-)

  8. Dave says:

    Ur right. Its aweful. I’ve seen better acting by dead people. I thought it was a parody of Jersey Shore but set in Nashville. The writing is aweful and well its just aweful. I see they haven’t made it in Nashville those ans will not. The music and “song writing” is well below the charts…

  9. Nellie says:

    I’m sure it will be a hit…there are very few of us left in this world that appreciate good music and class, which this show lacks big time. The slightly talented are gonna ruin their chances to make it in the music scene with their alcohol addiction, who do they think is gonna invest in a 20 something year old alcoholic with minimal talent as it is? Now the whole world knows just what you really are-drunk sex-crazed pukes! Maybe this reality show was your last resort since you can’t make it in music. Good luck I love ‘crazy’ Nashville but this should have been called ‘Trashy’ hearts.

  10. Kody says:

    I’m from the wonderful state of tennessee and to see the garbage that this show is showing is ridiculous. This show does not whatsoever portray Nashville in anyway. Way better artists come out of this city than this garbage.

  11. kay says:

    I thought ” Rodeo Girls” was bad until last night’s ” Crazy Hearts”. It was like watching a BAD B movie and the cast while trying not to act did a terrible job clearly acting. Keep trying A&E maybe you will get it right but can’t imagine a second season of this garbage.

  12. Do not let this show fool you, Leroy Powell is the real deal! I have followed his career since he joined Shooter Jennings band around 2005 and have see him in person several times. Leroy is one of the most bad ass guitar players I have ever seen and has a great voice. I understand is show is corny as hell and well scripted but if this is what it takes for the world to get to know the great music of Leroy Powell then I am on board!

  13. Thomas says:

    I loved it! I enjoyed the new music with the drama. I hope it stays!

  14. Holly says:

    I really like Leroy Powell’s music and I’m surprised he’d do this crap.

  15. Jim says:

    I lasted 3 minutes then changed the channel.

  16. Michael Arc says:

    Totally agree with you, and I live in Nashville. This is terrible to say the least. I hate to say that but truth is truth. If this fly’s so do pigs…souiiee

  17. Bill Holden says:

    Mr. Lowry, if you think its just Southern conservatives watching A&E’s Duck Dynasty, you are sadly mistaken. Perhaps there are many southern conservatives that do watch the show, but I am certain there are conservatives all across this nation that tune it to D.D. and who will surely tune in to Crazy Hearts Nashville.

    Business Insider lists the 10 top conservative states: Arkansas, Nebraska, Louisiana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Utah, Mississippi, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alabama. (I’m certain they have a wide following in ALL of those states.) The characters in this “reality” program, unfortunately are from the South, but they do not represent the beliefs of ALL Southerners. These programs are an embarrassment to a large majority of us who happen to live in “southern states”. Oh, and here’s another news flash – we don’t all listen to country music. Please try to refrain from subjecting all southerners to your stereotypes.

  18. John Miller says:

    A&E should stop fighting it and just accept that they are the Southern, conservative, Evangelical network. They never should have been surprised that the Robertsons turned out to be what they were. And, that’s what their audience wants. Just give that audience what they want and nobody gets hurt!

  19. Bobby Flowers says:

    The first episode was terrible, even by reality TV standards. I mean, it’s bad. Really bad. I can’t believe A&E decided to air this series.

    Duck Dynasty fans will absolutely hate this show. If that was A&Es target demographic, they blew it. Big time

    • MacKenzie says:

      I agree that it was awful. Being a big country music fan, I was looking forward to this only to get disappointed just like I was with Lifetime’s Chasing Nashville, I didn’t think it could get worse then that show but then I watched this one.

  20. Mephisto says:

    Awesome proofreading, guys. Two different titles for the show in one review!

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