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CMT's Music City, which premiered Thursday, hits all the right notes for a guilty pleasure: pretty people, relationship woes, and -- best of all -- an Arkansas connection.

The show about music hopefuls trying to make it in Nashville stars Little Rock singer Jessica Mack (nickname: JMack), a Joe T. Robinson alumna, and four friends.

"Relationships are formed, and some are struggling -- it's like a real-life Nashville if you have ever watched that show on CMT," she says in a recent phone interview. "It's like an unscripted version of that."

Or at least as unscripted as MTV's The Hills and Laguna Beach ever were; Adam DiVello, the creator behind those, masterminded Music City too. So look forward to Hills-style long, lingering stares and overly dramatic pauses, in addition to snippets of music with artist information on the screen.

Thus far two 30-minute Music City episodes have aired (cmt.com/shows/music-city); there are eight total. Here is the cast of characters:

Kerry Degman: He's a handsome country singer who is always away from his wife, Rachyl, and young son Wolfgang ... and -- for shame! -- having one more drink with the sexy woman at the bar.

Rachyl Degman: This wife and mom agreed to relocate to Nashville so Kerry could become a singer -- not realizing that he'd have to go places and sing. When she's not griping about Kerry, she's staring at her phone for his texts that don't come. She's also working on going to law school, which will come in handy when she divorces Kerry.

Alisa Beth: The Los Angeles native who is pursuing a career in music "despite her family's doubts" hasn't gotten much camera time yet, so we've got no choice than continue borrowing the show's bio information: "She's also searching for someone to sweep her off her feet, a task that's been challenging considering she's picky to a fault."

Jackson Boyd: The Nashville native is a hot fitness trainer who often has his shirt off. We haven't yet figured out why he's even on this show of wannabe musicians, but we're not complaining. Because, again, he's a hot fitness trainer who often has his shirt off.

JMack: We learn in the first episodes that our Jessica is not only a singer (about her music, she says during our talk, "I would say it's very positive and it's uplifting, but it's also authentic and real"). She's a saint. She doesn't drink alcohol. And the now-30-year-old is a virgin, devoted to abstaining from sex until marriage. We pray her music career will take off, because with that level of purity, reality TV clearly isn't going to be a long-term thing.

While JMack has lived in Nashville for several years, she says, "I come home very often, probably once a month because I'm very close to my family. Everybody in my family is still in Little Rock. It was very difficult to break away from that because we are so close. ... But everybody was very supportive. I love Little Rock, I'll forever be a Hogs fan and I teach people how to call the Hogs all the time." Even if she attended Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma where she got a human relations degree that she hopes she never has to use.

As for how she got involved in the show, JMack says, "They actually cast my friends Kerry and Rachyl first. That's how I was kind of pulled into the mix. I know Kerry from the music industry and, come to find out later, we went to the same church too. The idea was Adam [DiVello] wanted to find a group of friends in Nashville that were all pursuing their dreams.

"We are really friends in real life."

Friends ... and maybe more? In the first episode, JMack is set up on blind date with Rachyl's fitness instructor Jackson (who did wear a shirt -- and lifted it up to show JMack a tattoo) and there seems to be chemistry between this good girl and apparent bad boy.

"That was my first scene too, so it broke me in," JMack says. "After the first 10 minutes, you really do forget the cameras." We'd forget about cameras too if Jackson -- who admits to JMack he has musical aspirations too -- was lifting up his shirt.

Will JMack find love with J-abs-on, I mean, Jackson? Will Kerry and Rachyl stay in love? Will Alisa Beth get a storyline?

JMack promises this much: "You're going to see some tears and a lot of laughs too. All of us friends are pretty funny, I think, so you're going to have fun watching it."

Face the music and email:

jchristman@arkansasonline.com

Spin Cycle is a weekly smirk at pop culture.

Style on 03/04/2018

Print Headline: Music City sort of a reality version of Nashville

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