NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 22, 2013 - Music City was thrust into the limelight last fall when ABC launched its ambitious musical drama Nashville. Starring Connie Briton (as the reinging queen of Country music) and Hayden Panettiere (as the stunning young ingenue), the hit TV show brings the backstage dealings and drama to light, exposing what many have already surmised as truth. Show creator Callie Khouri -- also known for her work on Thelma & Louise and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood -- has done a marvelous job of portraying the female psyche and demonstrating the struggle to overcome a male-dominated world.
"I think anytime you’re doing something you have to kind of be three steps ahead so that it’s not going to be interpreted in a way you don’t want it to," she tells Huffington Post of representing female competition on TV. "I mean sure, you can water [“Nashville”] down to its most simplistic form and say, 'Yeah, it’s a competition between two women who are fighting for the same spot,' but it’s really more about women in an incredibly competitive market, and how few spots there are and what you have to do to be relevant at any age in that market."
The vast cultural landscape is peppered with such controversial and adversely skewing shows like The Real Housewives franchise that often times misrepresents what women deal with, Khouri says. "That’s much more interesting to me than two women who can’t stand each other. That story we’ve seen a thousand times. And it’s not the kind of thing I watch," she explains. "I don’t watch any reality shows. I don’t watch '[The Real] Housewives' of Beverly Hills or New Jersey or any place, where women are pulling each other’s hair. I think it’s base entertainment. It’s female wrestling disguised as something else. I’m not into it."
Females in Country music, particularly, often suffer a disadvantage when it comes to chart-topping success. Khouri concludes that that while the idea of "having it all" looks nice on paper, it's not a realistic notion for any gender, male or female. "Well, I think the whole whether or not you can 'have it all' idea itself is a strawman argument," she says. "I don’t know anyone male or female who can quote-unquote have it all. It’s a made-up idea. Men don’t have it all. They may have it better because they get paid more for the same work, but they don’t have it all. Men that are completely career-driven are missing all sorts of things in their kids’ lives. It’s always a struggle. It’s a struggle for men, and it’s a struggle for women."
On whether women in the real world have an obligation or natural duty to work together and mentor one another, she instructs, "Oh yeah, absolutely. I think it’s kind of the natural state of things. If women are in the workplace together, they’re doing that. I’m very fortunate because every situation I’ve ever worked in has had a lot of women in it. So I learned from them, they learned from me, [and] then it goes on like that. The day that we don’t have to address these things as gender issues will be the day that real equality is reached."
One of music's biggest stars is Taylor Swift, who is currently experiencing major backlash regarding her choice in thematic material in her music. Khouri admits that that's a problem she wishes she had. "If I could have the kind of backlash that caused me to be #1 on the charts for months and months at a time and have sold-out concerts for the next however many years -- that’s the kind of backlash I could live with. If that’s what she wants to write about, God love her, I support it. It’s obviously speaking to the audience she’s trying to reach."