As two divas from different generations on ABC's Nashville, Connie Britton's Rayna Jaymes and Hayden Panettiere's Juliette Barnes steal the show's spotlight, both onstage and off. But as the series approaches the midseason mark, it's actually the men surrounding the two leading ladies whose story lines are keeping us tuned in every week. Will Rayna's husband win the race for mayor — and if so, at what cost? Will Juliette deflower her football player beau? Here, we break down the men of Nashville — including which ones have won us over, which ones we're keeping a wary eye on, and who we're still on the fence about.
Good Guys, a.k.a. The Southern Charmers:
Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten):
Backstory: Rayna's ex-boyfriend and songwriting partner for 20-plus years, Deacon is a local celebrity who still plays gigs around town and finds steady work as a session musician. His and Rayna's romance ended years ago, when she got together with Teddy while paying for Deacon to go through rehab. Now Rayna's severed their musical partnership as well, upon realizing that the temptation of being on the road with Deacon would put too much of a strain on her marriage.
Relationship status: It's clear Deacon still has a soft spot for Rayna, even though he's hooked up with Juliette on more than one occasion (plus, presumably, a host of other groupies). But we're rooting for the exes to reunite — both personally and professionally.
Charm factor: Aside from his musical talents, Deacon's got the down-to-earth, unpretentious thing going on. He's also fiercely loyal to Rayna, not stuffy like Teddy, and seemingly doesn't have anything to hide.
Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio):
Backstory: Gunnar came to Nashville from Texas, hoping to make it big in the music scene. He and his duet partner Scarlett (Clare Bowen) have gained attention from some local industry folks, and seem like they might be on their way to stardom. But will Gunnar's feelings about her stand in the way of their career aspirations?
Relationship status: Gunnar's currently dating Hailey, whom he met at the recording studio where she works, but (inexplicably?) still carries a torch for the drippy Scarlett, who's newly single after splitting from Avery.
Charm factor: Shy, polite, chivalrous — what's not to love? Not to mention, he's pretty easy on the eyes!
Sean Butler (Tilky Jones):
Backstory: A mix of Tim Tebow and Tony Romo when he dated Jessica Simpson, Sean is a straitlaced NFL player who doesn't drink and vows to stay a virgin until marriage. He meets Juliette when she appears at a charity event he's hosting in an attempt to salvage her image, but the two quickly realize there's something more than just a business partnership between them.
Relationship status: Dating Juliette. Will she be able to put aside her hard-partying ways for the sake of their relationship?
Charm factor: Handsome, athletic, and talented with a guitar (seriously, does EVERYBODY in Nashville play an instrument?), Sean presents something different for Juliette — someone who truly likes her for who she is, and isn't after money or fame. Also, fun fact: Jones was a member of the boy band Take 5!
The Southern Sleazeballs:
Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson):
Backstory: Struggling singer/songwriter Avery has the looks and the musical talent to make it big — and he knows it. Ambitious and hardworking, Avery leans on Scarlett for support as he plays local gigs and shops his demo around to anyone and everyone who will listen, but becomes jealous when her musical career starts to eclipse his own.
Relationship status: Recently split from Scarlett; is sleeping with but unattached to his new manager, Marilyn Rhodes (Rya Kihlstedt).
Sleaze factor: Scarlett's sourpuss of a (now ex, thankfully) boyfriend couldn't even muster a "Congratulations" when his girlfriend scored a record deal before he did.
Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe):
Backstory: Rayna's father, the most powerful man in (and former mayor of) Nashville, is a ruthless businessman who's the puppetmaster behind Teddy's increasingly corrupt campaign for mayor. His relationship with Rayna is strained at best.
Relationship status: A widower who has no romantic interests in the show to speak of thus far. Still in mourning over Rayna's mother, who cheated on him with a country singer before she died.
Sleaze factor: Kudos to Boothe for making Lamar simply ooze smarminess wherever he goes. He's the show's biggest backstabber and we can only hope he'll get his just desserts in the end.
Teddy Conrad (Eric Close):
Backstory: As Rayna's husband, Teddy hasn't exactly been the breadwinner of the family — in fact, his most recent botched real estate deal nearly bankrupted them. Now, Teddy's looking to step out of his wife's shadow and make a name for himself by running for mayor of Nashville.
Relationship status: Married to Rayna. It remains unclear whether he had an affair with his business associate in the bad deal, Peggy (Kimberly Williams), which he denies.
Sleaze factor: Like Avery, Teddy is resentful of Rayna's success. Plus, we know that he's participated in at least one less-than-legal real estate deal and, under advice from Lamar, is not above using shady tactics to achieve victory in the mayoral race.
Coleman Carlisle (Robert Ray Wisdom):
Backstory: Coleman is a longtime Nashville council member who was betrayed by his longtime supporter Lamar, who employed Coleman's mother as a housekeeper, after speaking out against a new baseball stadium for the city. Also a longtime friend of Rayna's, he's is now running against Lamar's new political protégé, Teddy, in the mayoral race. (Awkward!) He's also Deacon's AA sponsor — something that comes back to bite him when, in a sneakily-orchestrated move by Teddy and Lamar, he's pulled over with prescription drugs that belong to Deacon in his glove compartment.
Relationship status: Coleman is, by all indications, happily married to his wife, Anita.
Why we're on the fence: Coleman is trying to run an honest campaign, although after the pills incident he's been forced to go dirty and is now contemplating releasing photos of Teddy and Peggy — which would slow Teddy's momentum, but hurt Rayna and their daughters in the process.
Nashville's midseason finale airs Wednesday at 10/9c on ABC. Who's your favorite man about town on the show?