Michelle Obama appears on ‘Nashville’ … sort of

From the drama-filled hit show "Nashville" to the beloved "Sesame Street," the first lady has done it all. Here are some of her best appearances on scripted TV. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

Well, that was disappointing.

Well into the second half of the show Wednesday, the first lady made an appearance on “Nashville,” but it may not have been exactly what audiences were expecting.

When Luke Wheeler (Will Chase) is forced to return home without performing after he’s injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) helps organize a charity concert at Fort Campbell Army base in Kentucky. They plan to simulcast the concert to overseas troops, and Obama delivers a special message, but not in person. She appears at the event a via taped segment that’s projected on a big screen.

Humph.

In real life, if you can’t get a VIP, the second-best option — though still not a great one — is to video-conference with them or play a taped segment, which makes sense at a live event.

In the case of “Nashville,” where you’re watching a screen-within-a-screen, it just seemed odd, especially since Obama made a real trip to Fort Campbell last month. The show even cuts away during Obama’s cameo to an exchange between Daphne Conrad (Maisy Stella) and her father, Teddy (Eric Close), before turning back to her speech to the troops.

After weeks of buzz surrounding Obama’s appearance, you would think that she would appear live on the set, but it’s likely that show producers and the first lady’s office couldn’t squeeze it in to the taping schedule.

The East Wing has been aggressive about harnessing pop culture to further Obama’s initiatives, and it usually works well. For example, Obama recently made an appearance on the NBC show “Parks and Recreation.” Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, could not contain herself. “Yes,” Knope said, nodding vigorously. “I do agree with you. I agree with you on all things, throughout history, until the end of time, forever.”

And then there was Obama’s unforgettable dunk photobomb with the Miami Heat:


Maybe it’s just as well. “Nashville,” which was popular with critics when it debuted, has had a bit of a ratings crisis, and showrunners are still waiting to see if ABC will renew it for a third season.

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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