Ken Burns’ aptly-titled 2019 Country Music documentary renewed my semi-obsession with the life of Tammy Wynette. Tammy, as she will be referred to in this-here post, was known as the First Lady of Country Music due to the string of hits she accumulated in the 1960s and ‘70s. In addition to her songs and her success, the country music doc delved into her personal tribulations. As a friend and I discussed the doc, I said that Tammy’s life deserved an updated movie. (In 1981, Tammy’s life was made into a TV movie.)
The universe listened.
Well, sort of.
Late last year, I learned of a limited series called George and Tammy, which would chronicle the lives and careers of Tammy and her third husband, George Jones aka the greatest male country music vocalist of all time.
A six-episode series about Tammy and George? The universe not only listened, it improved on my request.
There was only one problem. The series would be shown on Showtime, and I didn’t have Showtime. What’s that? Showtime was offering a 99-cent-a-month deal through my streaming service. Heck, I find that much change on floors and in parking lots every month. Sign me up, Showtime.
I knew I would love George and Tammy within the first few minutes of the first episode when I spotted actor Walton Goggins in George’s band. Goggins has been in oodles of movies and shows, but I know him best as Shane from The Shield and Boyd from Justified. In George and Tammy, he plays Peanutt. Yes, with two tts.
Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain play, respectively, George and Tammy. I have mentally sent both actors – and Goggins – bouquets of their favorite flowers to express my appreciation for their performances. Chastain’s Tammy comes across as so vulnerable and so seeking of love and a home. Shannon does such a good job as George that I alternated between wanting to push him off his riding lawnmower to wanting to hug him to wanting to ask for home décor advice to wanting to give him a high five. Their performances, especially Shannon’s, in the final scene brought tears to my eyes.
Except for that final scene, when the leads and others perform a singalong of Lost Highway, I wish the actors hadn’t done their own singing. I legit thought my friend and I were going to throw hands over this subject, but I do not like hearing actors perform songs made famous by others. It triggers me. For some reason, their duets weren’t as triggering, but I fast-forwarded the show during some of the solos. It was either that or overturn a table.
Anyway, when I heard about the series, I wondered if it would cover the reasons I became semi-obsessed with Tammy’s life – her “kidnapping,” her fifth husband, her health, her hair. Once again, the universe listened.
I thoroughly enjoyed George and Tammy and highly recommend you find a way to watch. You don’t have to be a fan of theirs or of country music to appreciate the series. Keep in mind, though, that since it’s not a documentary, they do play fast and loose with the timeline (and perhaps some facts) for dramatic effect. Oh, it’s based on a book by George and Tammy’s daughter, Georgette. Keep that in mind, too, and keep your eyes and ears out for her. She appears twice in the series as a backup singer.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.