It's the Rachel Bilson comeback you've been waiting for. The O.C. and Hart of Dixie favorite has joined the cast of Nashville as a series regular. This is Bilson's first regular TV gig since her CW series Hart of Dixie wrapped its four-season run in 2015.
Bilson and Empire veteran Kaitlin Doubleday have been brought on in the wake of Connie Britton's exit from the series.
"Music city, here I come #nashvillecmt," Bilson said in the Instagram post below.
Her former O.C. costar Chris Carmack, who also appears on Nashville, took to Twitter to welcome his pal. "Can't wait to work with Rachel again... it's been a while! ‘Welcome to Nashville....... darlin'!' he tweeted, referencing The O.C.'s famous line.
Nasvhille aired its midseason finale on Thursday, March 9 and will return with new episodes in the summer.
"We welcome Rachel and Kaitlin into our incredibly talented ensemble," Marshall Herskovitz, executive producer and showrunner, said in a statement. "We fondly anticipate the second half of the season filled with surprising twists and turns that make Nashville so beloved by the fans."
Britton, Hayden Panettiere and the majority of the Nashville cast moved with the series from ABC to CMT after it was canceled. Britton's character Rayna Jaymes died after a car accident, leaving legions of fans shocked.
"Thank you Rayna Jaymes. For your magic and your dignity. And thank you to all the creators of Rayna Jaymes, for there were many," Britton posted on Instagram after her character died. She also thanked the fans for their support.
"You made Rayna. You supported her and loved her and gave her inspiration just as she was able to inspire you. You were the energy source, the power behind her heart and soul and life. Rayna lived for you. And, from the depths of my heart, I thank you, for her and for me. It has been an honor to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on. Long live Rayna Jaymes," she wrote.
Can Bilson's comeback aid in Nashville's? The series has undergone numerous creative changes and cast shifts over the years, but none as dramatic as Britton's departure. Stars departing shows isn't an uncommon act, but there are varying degrees of success in how TV shows rebound (or don't).
"Shows always move forward. Grey's Anatomy moved forward. Thirtysomething moved forward after Gary died. This is such a rich cast and such a rich group of characters there's so many great stories to tell," executive producer Herskovitz told EW after Britton announced her departure.
But Nashville is a unique case—it perpetually lived on the bubble when it was on ABC and was already canceled once. Time will tell if the new blood can breathe new life into the country music series.