I’ve always found comfort in camp. I used to hurry home after school to watch the last few minutes of General Hospital with my mom before she switched the channel to Inside Edition. Melodrama was the base of my media food pyramid. It’s no mystery, then, how I later came to be a fan of the ABC musical drama Nashville. It’s not a very good show, but it was delightful country camp — a bedazzled rabbit hole that I dove into on Wednesday nights in 2012 as an escape from the melancholia that crept in every time I returned to my empty apartment. Lengthy elliptical sessions and trips to the grocery store killed only so much time in the evenings, so I turned to Nashville for refuge.
But after each episode ended, I’d look around and realize that I was still in Iowa, alone with my thoughts on a show that nobody else watched. It would have been easy, back then, to find a co-worker or a guy at a bar eager to engage in a spirited postmortem about the latest episode of Breaking Bad. But where was I going to find anyone willing to gush with me over Nashville’s dreamy male protagonist, Deacon Claybourne, or to contemplate whether my crush was indicative of some unearthed daddy issues? The show wasn’t exactly a hit with my particular educated, millennial demographic — and besides, when I lived in Iowa, I spent most of my free time alone.
Things changed one evening when I discovered a cohort of my Nashville-loving peers congregated in an obscure corner of the internet, deep in the comment section of Vulture’s weekly Nashville recaps. Finally, I had found my people. Sifting through the conversations in the comments could eat up more time than an elliptical session, a grocery run, and an hour-long TV drama combined.
The Nashville pilot arrived right when I needed it. It was the antidote to my comparatively crappy real life: I had spent the two years since graduation feeling mostly miserable and convinced I’d be happier with a change of scenery or a career upgrade. So, when I wrapped up my job teaching English in Spain in the summer of 2012, I sprinted back to my Midwestern college town — Iowa City — where my boyfriend still lived and where I had landed a job at the local newspaper. I…