Anyone moving from a spacious suburban household to a smaller inner city apartment knows that some important things are going to have to be left behind. Such is the case with the drama Nashville's ongoing shift from the comforts of broadcast network ABC to the cable channel CMT, which has only recently started getting serious about scripted programming. The first character casualties have been announced, and Nashville is saying farewell to country singers Luke Wheeler and Layla Grant when Season 5 kicks off.
When Nashville debuts on its new home, having been in cancellation purgatory for weeks before CMT stepped up with an offer, it will be under the guidance of new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (who replaced Dee Johnson). Apparently the duo's overview of the drama ended in the decision that of all the characters available for elimination, Luke and Layla were the most expendable. And regardless of personal feelings about the vacating twosome, whose exit was reported by TVLine, it's hard to argue that either one's presence would be necessary to drive the current storylines forward.
Will Chase joined Nashville as a recurring character in Season 2, which ended with Luke and Rayna getting engaged. Understandably, Chase was promoted to a regular in Season 3, but after Rayna called it splits with Luke, he wasn't the easiest character to inspire his own narratives. For Season 4, Luke's story largely revolved around him flipping his opinions about the outed musician Will Lexington and trying to get Will's career off the ground despite a potential backlash from homophobic listeners. Poignant, perhaps, but not edge-of-your-seat TV, and clearly not enough to keep him around.
Aubrey Peeples also started off as a recurring character in Season 2, entering as a singing competition runner-up who took up an antagonistic stance with Juliette. (Bad move.) Layla wasn't a regular until Season 4, but her narrative put her in a marriage with the gay Will Lexington, whose sexuality she uses in a blackmail scheme against manager (and future lover) Jeff to make her album a bigger seller. But without much else for her to sink her minxish little teeth into, Layla has no reason to stick around.
It was quite the shock when ABC pulled the plug on Nashville after Season 4, which itself said goodbye to Teddy for the most part, but we thankfully didn't have to wait ages for CMT to put their money where their country music foundation was by picking it up. We're pretty sure we won't have to worry about that crazy cliffhanger ending in Juliette's death or an explanation-free ousting of Connie Britton's Rayna, but there's no telling how many more changes are coming Nashville's way before Season 5 gets here. Stay tuned.
For a bunch of other shows you can watch in the meantime, check out our summer TV schedule.