What would happen if Nashville and The Hills had a baby? That good-looking and musically gifted infant would be Music City, the latest reality series from Adam DiVello, the creator of The Hills and Laguna Beach. This unscripted reality drama follows the lives of five friends hoping to reach their dreams of stardom in the music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee. The season finale airs on Friday, April 13, and so far, not everyone in the cast has managed to secure their happily ever after. Will they have another chance if Music City gets a Season 2?
CMT has yet to make an official statement on whether or not the show will be renewed. And there's precedent to suggest that it might not have a long life. Several publications, including USA Today, have picked up on the trend that the city of Nashville has fallen under a "curse" when it comes to reality TV. Three separate reality shows tried to emulate the success of the musical drama smash hit Nashville back in 2013-2014, but all three failed.
First, there was Lifetime's Chasing Nashville, which was cancelled after just four episodes. The show might have had Nashville in the name, but it was actually set in Appalachia, Kentucky, and followed the lives of a handful of teenage aspiring country music starlets and their helicopter momagers. Next came A&E's Crazy Hearts: Nashville, a docu-soap about friends and lovers trying to make their country dreams come true. Crazy Hearts: Nashville premiered on January 2014, but wasn't renewed for Season 2. Last but not least came TNT's Private Lives of Nashville Wives, which only aired an eight-episode first season.
But that was a few years ago. And if Nashville is cursed when it comes to reality TV, then Adam DiVello may be the man with the Midas touch — or at least, that's how the marketing campaign for Music City makes it seem. Nearly every teaser, trailer, and poster for the series mentions The Hills creator in its title. While it's true that The Hills and Laguna Beach both left a considerable mark on pop culture in the late 2000s, his third spin-off of the series, The City, didn't fare quite so well. The City debuted in 2008, four years into the six-year run of The Hills. Unfortunately, The City attracted about 1.6 million viewers, per Entertainment Weekly, about a million less than The Hills Season 4 finale. Both shows were canceled in 2010 — The Hills after six seasons, and The City after only two.
But maybe a change of scenery is exactly what DiVello needs to pull of another Hills-quality success story. He revealed to Entertainment Weekly why he thought Nashville would be the perfect setting for his next series. "I love doing these in aspirational cities and aspirational locations," he said, "like The Hills in L.A. and Laguna Beach and The City in New York City. Music City, Nashville, was just the next perfect city, I think, to do it in."
Much like the rest of the world, the Music City caught DiVello's attention thanks to major primetime success Nashville, which premiered on ABC in 2012 and then moved to CMT for its final two seasons. DiVello continued to EW:
"My idea with this [Music City] always started with the scripted show Nashville. And I was such a huge fan of that show when it was on ABC. And then it went over to CMT. I was trying to put together a reality version of Nashville back when it was on ABC. I had an overall deal with Lionsgate… They produced Nashville, and I said, 'Please, let me go do a reality version of this.'"
As for CMT itself, the network seems committed to the potential of Music City. With the Nashville series finale slated for July 26, per Variety, network president Kevin Kay told AdWeek that he thinks Music City and unscripted shows like it are going to help CMT maintain the high ratings that came with acquiring Nashville. "[Music City] isn’t scripted, but it feels like the quality of a scripted show,” said Kay. He also acknowledged that unscripted television is not as expensive and therefore less risky to produce.
CMT has already attempted to shift some of Nashville's loyal viewership onto Music City, airing a 3-minute sneak peak during the mid-season finale. They're working hard to break the curse of Nashville reality TV, but even they don't sound 100 percent convinced they can do it. CMT general manager Frank Tanki mentioned to AdWeek that Music City isn't the only unscripted series the networks has lined up for the future. If it turns out the Nashville curse still can't be broken, they're ready to pack up and try their luck in a new town. “One thing we’re looking at is, what are these quintessential American cities with great stories that maybe haven’t been told yet?” said Tanki. “We have a couple of other things we’re looking at that would be comparable to that. So that could be part of our filter moving forward.”
So whether or not Adam DiVello and CMT manage to establish a successful, long-running Nashville-set reality series, the concept itself may make its way to another town.