Character studies: 'Nashville's' Avery Barkley




Did you know?

• Battle Ground native and “Nashville” co-star Jonathan Jackson played Lucky Spencer on “General Hospital” and is the frontman for the band Enation, which he formed with his brother, Richard Lee, in 2004.

• Jonathan’s wife, Lisa, played Hannah Scott on “General Hospital” from 1999 to 2001.

• Jonathan, a five-time Daytime Emmy Award winner, moved his family to Nashville for filming of the ABC series in 2012 and no longer lives in Clark County. Several members of the Jackson family are still here, though.

• His father, Rick “Ricky Lee” Jackson, is a Battle Ground physician, country musician and one-time aspiring politician.

• Jonathan’s sister, Candice Jackson, lives in Clark County. She is an attorney and author of “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine.”

• Richard Lee Jackson is also an actor and still lives in the county. He has appeared on TV and in film, including “Bring It On Again.”


• “Nashville,”

10 p.m. Wednesdays, ABC.

Here are some of the things that Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) did on Season 1 of "Nashville":

• Ditched his struggling band/best friends and girlfriend Scarlett (Clare Bowen).

• Slept with his sleazy manager (cheating on Scarlett) to get ahead.

• Sabotaged his career by burning the master tapes of his album.

• Consistently sported the worst facial hair in Tennessee and possibly on television. In other words, no one would have been upset if he didn't come back for Season 2. But come back he did.

And here are a few of the things that Avery did in the first half of Season 2:

• Moved in with his ex-girlfriend's ex-boyfriend (Gunnar, played by Sam Palladio) to make amends.

• Got a job working tables at the Bluebird Café.

• Went from jealous ex-boyfriend to supportive, humble boyfriend.

• Became the moral compass and best friend of star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panttiere).

• Sported moderately better facial hair.

OK, his facial hair is still pretty egregious. But even if his physical appearance remains unchanged, his character has gone through a massive personality makeover, transforming Avery

from the show's most loathsome character to its beloved underdog.

Yet the show's writers seem intent on leaving him in backup singer purgatory. I can't think of a single song he sang this season that wasn't for the benefit of someone else. He had a wonderful jam session with Gunnar, but then Gunnar went on to sign a deal with Edgehill Records to write on his own. He rescued Juliet from what looked to be a disastrous performance at one of her concerts -- but, again, that was about Juliet, not him. The formerly entitled and obnoxious crooner has become one of the only characters on the ABC soap who's still worth rooting for, but there's no song to anchor him or encourage his fans.

This is frustrating for a viewer who wants to cheer on Season 2's best character -- on a show like "Nashville," everyone is only as good as their next song. This season has seen musical success for several characters, with multiple comebacks from illness, bad performances and writer's block. Even Rayna (played by the lovely and talented but less vocally gifted Connie Britton) has, somewhat questionably, decided to start her own label. Where does that leave the struggling Avery?

In Season 1, all I wanted was for him to stop singing, and yet he kept on playing. Now, he has become the perfect vehicle for "Nashville's" next great song. For us to not give up on him, he needs to parlay his redemption into some good ol' country music. His future only goes as far as his next tune will take him.