Nine Times Hollywood Got It REALLY Wrong About Country Music

February 23, 2018

We're country music fans! If we know you, you've probably been a fan all of your life. We live the country lifestyle, so we can sniff it out pretty quick when things aren't quite right when someone is trying to represent country music. 

Country music isn't all about giant belt buckles, cowboy hats and cheesy lyrics about your wife leaving you for your dog. Sometimes, Hollywood’s idea of what it means to be a country star is deeply misleading, leaning wholly on stereotypes that are (at most) only partially true.

Here's where Hollywood got it really wrong! 

'Private Lives of Nashville Wives'

Brought to you by the producers of the Real Housewives franchises, that ought to tell you just about everything you need to know. Private Lives of Nashville Wives focused on silly personal catfights and drunken arguments between cast members, and badly misrepresented Nashville and country music in the process.

'Country Strong'

The presence of Tim McGraw, as well as some truly authentic Nashville location shoots, lent an air of reality to Country Strong, but despite Gwyneth Paltrow's strong performance and the fact that she can actually sing, her character is given far too many silly things to say and do. One especially laughable scene has her deliver a triumphant performance, then brush past a younger performer and say, "That's how it's done, honey." In real life, country stars almost always graciously mentor the younger artists who are going to continue the genre.

'Nashville'

This dreadful "reality" series was a notorious flop when it aired in 2007. Ostensibly following the lives of aspiring country stars, it focused so much on gossip and dating that it was unwatchable. Future stars including Chuck Wicks and even Jamey Johnson were on board, but this show was mercifully canceled after just two horrendous episodes had aired.

'Rhinestone'

Poor Dolly Parton didn't have much to work with when she was cast opposite Sylvester Stallone in this train wreck of a film. Stallone's inept, laughable performance as a New York City cab driver trying to become a country singer so Parton can win a bet is so excruciatingly terrible that it's almost enjoyable, in a campy sort of way. Rhinestone reinforces a great many backward stereotypes about country music, even while trying to preach the gospel of the genre.

'Gone Country'

The premise of this reality singing competition was that performers from different genres would come in and learn to become country stars. But it turns out that just because someone from The Brady Bunch or Twisted Sister is famous, that doesn't make them country, because it's a genre that has to be authentic to the person doing it. This show ran for three seasons, but all of the resulting music is entirely forgettable.

'The Thing Called Love'

River Phoenix made one of the last appearances of his life in this film, which should have been good, but really isn't. Also starring Sandra Bullock, the movie makes a sincere attempt to understand the struggle of songwriters in Nashville, but misses badly. Among the most ludicrous plot elements are how Phoenix' character rises to rapid success even though the actor was nowhere near good enough a singer to support that, and how Bullock's character is allowed to repeatedly bomb with her terrible songs on the stage of the world-famous Bluebird Cafe, where in real life she would never be allowed to make it past the first verse.

'Nashville Star'

Nashville Star actually delivered on its promise to discover future country stars. Chris Young was launched after winning, and Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves both competed on the show before they made it big. But those are the exceptions. As a rule, many of the contestants were big-haired, good-looking people with more looks than talent, reinforcing the perception that looks are more important than talent in country music. Turns out, that's still not true.

'Urban Cowboy'

Urban Cowboy was virtually single-handedly responsible for the designer cowboy movement of the 1980s. Set to a really great, top-selling soundtrack, the movie asks viewers to believe John Travolta as a blue-collar Joe who goes out to country bars at night, and it mainstreamed the notion of the mechanical bull, for better or worse. But ultimately the film reinforces many cheesy stereotypes about country music and its fans that just aren't accurate or fair.

'Crazy Hearts'

Set in the hipster East Nashville community, Crazy Hearts: Nashville managed to misrepresent almost everything about Music City in its brief run, from the intentions of major labels to the sincerity of aspiring artists. Much of the show focused on hookups, with the rest of it devoted to drunken, self-serving rants about how misunderstood people are by Music Row. With that attitude, it's not hard to see why some of these people were having such a hard time in Nashville.