Over the course of Nashville‘s four seasons, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) has had a rough, rocky road.
Juliette: That’s the problem with being on top. It’s that people aren’t just waiting for you to fall, they’re trying to cause you to.
Her struggles have always impacted her career, or rather stemmed from her career into her personal life. When she thought she was up, her life came crashing down around her as she lost everything: her family, her career, possibly even her life.
Nashville Season 4 closed with Juliette finally coming clean about her misdeeds and involvement with Jeff Fordham’s death, who sacrificed himself to save her from jumping off of a building in a drunken and drugged haze.
It took Juliette a long while to earn some semblance of respect within the country community. Season 1 found her as a teen-bop country pop star, fighting for Rayna, her label, and the world to believe she actually had talent and had something to say with her music.
Instead of singing about “Boys and Buses,” she wanted to use her past to channel and sing bigger, deeper, soulful tunes.
How ironic that her deepest song stemmed from her mother’s death at the end of Season 1. “Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again” was the song to her mother after the murder/suicide that ended her life, but saved Juliette from a scandal that could’ve ruined her popularity.
But that didn’t stall it forever. Inevitably, Juliette’s slightly poor decisions came to bite her in the ass, as her fans and the world of country music turned their back on her in Season 2.
Everything she’d fought so hard for was ruined after Layla leaked information about Juliette’s involvement with a certain idolized couple’s divorce. Then, a poor choice of words and handy editing by an outraged fan completely ruined her. Her label dropped her, but nothing got her down.
She held on, and her song “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet” flipped off all over her haters and criticizers.
Juliette: So to all of you out there who want me to beg for forgiveness, who want to burn my records and cancel my concerts, who want to put my career in the ground… This one’s for you.
But even partnering with Rayna and signing on to her new record label didn’t save Juliette. She had to earn back the favor of the world, which is exactly what she did.
What could be worse than losing your career?
Well, over the last two seasons, Juliette had a baby with Avery (due to Panettiere’s real-life pregnancy), married Avery, divorced Avery, and went to rehab for her postpartum depression that led her down that drugs and alcohol path that effectively ended Fordham’s life.
Instead of her career crumbling, it actually took off higher than it ever had before with the release of her newest album, but at what cost? Her personal life came down in shambles around her, and she lost her husband and her daughter.
Juliette returned from rehab, as Panettiere returned from her own stint in rehab for her real postpartum depression, with a mission: she wanted to earn back everyone she’d lost.
Glen, her manager, was easily won over, but she hadn’t hurt anyone as much as she’d hurt Avery. It wasn’t until the Season 4 finale that Juliette finally won a chance to redeem herself with Avery, though her daughter will always be a part of her, and she still has the chance to connect with Cadence.
Or possibly, had the chance. As her own life had fallen and crumbled, Juliette might’ve met the same fate as the jet she was on sent out a distress signal and went missing 90 miles outside of Nashville.
Will Juliette Barnes ever get to be happy? Some may say she doesn’t deserve it, but why doesn’t she?
Juliette is the product of the life she’s lived, and from what we’ve seen, it hasn’t been a very good life. From the moment she got out of her mother’s drug haze and into the spotlight, she had to fight to stay afloat in a business that was intent on drowning her.
She may be aggressive, she may be blunt, but she’s a survivor.
Here’s hoping she can survive an actual threat to her life as Nashville moves from ABC to CMT and Hulu for a 22-episode Season 5 this fall.