OFFSTAGE: Bikini Wax and Ambien Define McGraw-Paltrow Marriage

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

“I got one of those Brazilian bikini waxes,” Gwyneth Paltrow says. “I just took an Ambien,” replies Tim McGraw. There’s a point in every good movie where the relationship between the stars becomes perfectly clear. For me, this was that part in Country Strong. The couple is in bed after James Canter (McGraw) has pulled his wife Kelly (Paltrow) out of rehab early, and she’s trying to make things right between them. But the fact that he was so disinterested in the torture she’d endured for the sake of their sex life (if you don’t know what a Brazilian is, I present Exhibit A ) that he’d rather be lulled to sleep by prescription drugs says so much. For one, it says that theirs is a loveless marriage. And two, he’s only staying with her for the money she could make if she’d ever stop drinking. And therein lies the vicious circle of their relationship, and the movie. If Kelly would sober up and sing, she’d make money and maybe they’d be happy. And if they were happy, maybe she wouldn’t be drinking to assuage the hurt. I know I’m reading a lot into the Brazilian vs. Ambien scene, but to me, that defines the movie in the first 10 minutes. Yes, it’s about a country star whose self-destructive ways affect everyone around her. But the bigger picture is this insight that if your marriage gets to this point, everything around you is going to start to crumble. If there was ever a prequel to Country Strong, I’m guessing McGraw’s character’s greed would be what led Paltrow’s character to the liquor cabinet in the first place.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.