‘George & Tammy’ is a cautionary love story with good songs

‘George & Tammy’ is a cautionary love story with good songs

I must admit that as much as I love the classic recordings of country music king and queen George Jones and Tammy Wynette — a whole damn lot — my first thought on learning that they would be the subjects of a double biopic was to wonder whether its creator would be hip enough to include “Justified & Ancient,” a.k.a. “Stand by the Jams,” Wynette’s collaboration with British art-dance group the KLF. And so he does (even using the title for the final episode), if with a bit of a superior attitude. (I also love that track a whole damn lot.)

“George & Tammy,” which premieres Sunday on Showtime, stars Jessica Chastain as Tammy and Michael Shannon as George. Written by Abe Sylvia (who also wrote the Chastain feature “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) with daughter Georgette Jones’ “The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George” as the optioned source material, the limited series keeps the focus on the years when the two were in and out of each other’s lives.

As biopics go, “George & Tammy” is better than most, beautifully acted, nicely filmed, full of music and not lacking for crazy, infamous events. (The Driving a Tractor to Get a Drink Scene, George Taking a Shot at reformed drinking partner Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery, played by Walton Goggins — they’re here and much more.) But a series that claims to represent real historical events can lead one to wonder, distractedly, what truly happened and what was embellished or didn’t happen at all.

Given that, it may be best to regard the whole thing as fiction, which it inescapably is. It’s a scripted narrative pulled from actual events; variously reliable, at times conflicting first- and second-hand testimony; and recorded evidence, colored with invented conversation, all selected and arranged to provide a powerful narrative. Even the songs seem to arrive just to underscore a dramatic point, like a jukebox musical.

For much of the six episodes, you may feel as if you’re watching a riff on “A Star Is Born,” with young Tammy on the way up and older George, already an alcoholic, on the way down, the two destined for triumphs and tears and codependence. Not that he walks into the ocean at the end; nor does she proudly declare from the stage of the Grammys, “This is Mrs. George Jones.” Though I have little doubt she would.

You will also have to reckon with the stars’ singing, which they do themselves, better than passably well, catching something of the style and a bit of the depth of their models and sounding especially right when they harmonize. That said, Jones is widely considered the greatest singer in the history of country music, and Wynette’s style was singular from her first demos — whatever the tabloid appeal of their life together, it’s the source of their charisma. If you are trying to make a case for their artistic greatness, rather than just re-create their adventures and, more often, misadventures, karaoke, however good, will get you only partway there.

The series’ length is an advantage — it allows for longer scenes, more subtle development and world-building, as opposed to a theatrical biopic where an entire life is often crammed into a couple hours. At the same time, it may be a little too long, given the repeated relapses and reunions — enough already, you may come to feel — and once Tammy is on to her fourth husband, manager George Richey (a creepy Steve Zahn), and hooked on painkillers, the story loses steam. (It does get it back, however, whenever George enters the room.) There is some fast-forwarding across the singers’ less successful later years, to get them back together, having serious talks and singing duets.

In a succession of wigs and costumes familiar from album covers and personal appearances, some of which the series re-creates, Chastain makes a reasonable facsimile of Wynette; she does register more as a country singer than a movie star. Shannon’s casting, by contrast, feels odd — apart from being two heads taller than Jones, he looks nothing like him. His size does make him more threatening in his Mr. Hyde mode, though, and there’s nothing to fault in his portrayal of a man on a downward spiral. And Sylvia does Jones the favor of making him good with kids, when not disappointing them — scenes Shannon plays just as well.

Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man” was attacked as regressive, but the series has a low-key feminist slant; just how “girl singers” in Nashville are allowed to behave, as opposed to the roistering menfolk, comes up more than once, and Chastain, in a wonderful, studied performance, plays to Tammy’s strengths in a series where she’s often a victim, if sometimes of her own bad choices.

Toxic males abound, not only second husband Don Chapel (Pat Healy), a songwriter and wannabe recording artist, sullen and pushy, and enabling, opportunistic, obsessed fourth husband and manager Ritchey but also the doctors who botched her hysterectomy, leading to a life of pain, and the doctors who prescribed her stronger and stronger painkillers.

Jones, husband No. 3 (it was his third marriage as well — “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” isn’t merely a song among this crowd), comes across as the least toxic, oddly, because although he is as great a mess as has ever stood before a microphone, he wants nothing from her and His Love Is True. And that is really the arc of the story: the ups and downs of their linked, unlinked, linked, unlinked and linked lives and careers, seen through a veil of drink and drugs. It’s a cautionary love story, with good songs.

Framing is everything in a fact-based series, where you begin and end your tale. There is not much offered in the way of backstory; George and Tammy both appear in the opening scene, not yet together, as she crowds up to the front of the stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to see him perform — a performance that, like many, almost didn’t take place. (Many others didn’t take place at all, leading to the nickname ”No Show Jones.”)

And Wynette and Jones have both passed on, making this potentially a story where the main characters die at the end, and while that might make a decent country song, it can also send your audience home depressed. But “George & Tammy” opts for a hopeful finale — maybe the sweetest scene in the whole series, if the tears in my eyes are anything to go by — that should leave you feeling good.

‘George & Tammy’

Where: Showtime, CMTV and ParamountWhen: 9 p.m. SundayRating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under age 17)Streaming: Showtime and Paramount+, any time starting Sunday

News Related


NFL Decides On Punishment For Jaguars Player Who Injured Patrick Mahomes

The most talked-about thing in the NFL this week has been the right ankle of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. That’s because, a week ago, Mahomes suffered a high ... Read more »

Look: Basketball World Reacts To Wild Upset

Michael Chang/Getty Images This year’s college basketball season continues to be one of the most unpredictable seasons in recent memory. On Saturday afternoon, No. 2 Alabama fell to the unranked ... Read more »

Guitarist Tom Verlaine, co-founder of Television, dies at 73

NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Verlaine, guitarist and co-founder of the seminal proto-punk band Television who influenced many bands while playing at ultra-cool downtown New York music venue CBGB alongside ... Read more »

45 Comfy, Cheap Outfits From Amazon That Look Actually Expensive

45 Comfy, Cheap Outfits From Amazon That Look Actually Expensive Ever find a piece of clothing that you really like, but don’t bother checking the price tag because you know ... Read more »

Former Sparks star Candace Parker signing with the Las Vegas Aces

LAS VEGAS —  Former MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces. Parker spent the past two seasons playing for ... Read more »

USMNT Announces Starting Lineup for Friendly Vs. Colombia

Kellyn Acosta captains the side for the first time Read more »

Rick Astley Sues Rapper Yung Gravy for ‘Vocal Imitation' of Hit ‘Never Gonna Give You Up'

Yung Gravy released his song "Betty (Get Money)" in June 2022 Read more »

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag hails Casemiro and has 'no complaints' over busy schedule

Erik ten Hag has no complaints about the relentless fixture schedule as the Manchester United manager looks to end his first season at the club with silverware. Read more »

Manchester United continue pursuit of first trophy in six years with FA Cup win over Reading

Casemiro scored a magnificent brace before Fred flicked home audaciously as Manchester United’s Brazilian stars sparkled in Saturday evening’s FA Cup win over Reading. Read more »

Candace Parker Announces She Will Sign With Aces

The WNBA legend joins the defending league champions and two-time MVP A’ja Wilson. One of the greatest players in WNBA history is headed west once again. Forward Candace Parker will ... Read more »

5,000-year-old ‘tavern’ discovered on archeological dig

Archeologists unearthed a 5,000-year-old “tavern” in one of southwest Asia’s earliest cities. A team of researchers studying the archeological site of Lagash in southern Iraq uncovered the public eating space, ... Read more »

Memphis police’s ‘SCORPION’ unit shut down after fatal Tyre Nichols beating

At least two of the five officers who have now been charged with Nichols’ murder were members of the unit. Shelby County Sheriff’s Office/REUTERS Memphis cops’ elite “SCORPION” unit — involved ... Read more »

Draymond Green Reacts to Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic Battle

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green enjoyed this 76ers vs. Nuggets battle The Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets had a fantastic battle on Saturday afternoon, with all eyes on the ... Read more »

Russian troops shell Dnipropetrovsk Oblast with heavy artillery.

Russian troops shelled the settlement of Pokrovske near Nikopol in the morning of Jan. 28, Mykola Lukashuk, the head of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Council, said. Lukashuk said that Russian troops had ... Read more »

10 Weirdest Engines Used By Mainstream Carmakers

10 Weirdest Engines Used By Mainstream Carmakers Whatever engine configuration takes your fancy, gas-powered cars are on the way out. But, before carmakers make the switch to greener options, how ... Read more »

Stephen A. Smith sounds off on Tyre Nichols footage, demands ‘1st-degree murder changes’ be made

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called for first-degree murder charges following the release of harrowing bodycam footage of Memphis police officers beating 29-year-old Tyre Nichols to death. “It was an atrocity. ... Read more »

Snooker Shoot Out: Chris Wakelin claims maiden ranking title with win over teenager Julien Leclercq

Chris Wakelin dashed the dream of Belgian teenager Julien Leclercq to clinch victory in the one-frame BetVictor Snooker Shoot Out in Leicester. Read more »

Masters: Gerwyn Price knocked out in second round while Michael Smith battles on in Milton Keynes

Gerwyn Price suffered a second-round defeat at the Cazoo Masters at the hands of Dirk Van Duijvenbode, while world champion Michael Smith made safe progress into the quarter-finals. Read more »

Husband of woman burned alive in gruesome Brooklyn killing hoped for happier ending

The last time Pedro Valazquez heard his wife’s voice, she was already dead. Estranged spouse Surgerys Ramirez was tied up and burned alive inside a Brooklyn apartment by a crazed ... Read more »

Concerned community members hold public safety rally in Nanaimo, B.C.

A couple dozen Nanaimo, B.C., community members gathered Saturday to hold a public safety rally. Local residents and businesses have serious concerns about violence and crime that is taking place ... Read more »

Struggling Kelowna Rockets fall 3-1 to Vancouver Giants

The struggles of the Kelowna Rockets continue as they fell 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants Friday night. The Rockets were in Langley facing off against the 7th-place Giants, who are ... Read more »

BREAKING: UGA Lands World Class Speed in Latest Commit

Ask anyone that follows or covers college football objectively. If you ask them to name the top-5 coaching jobs in America, it won’t be long before you hear the University ... Read more »

How Long Does Marriage Counseling Take To Have An Affect?

Couple in marriage counseling As long as marriage has existed, couples have fought, disagreed, and struggled through monogamy. There are always good times, but it is part of human nature ... Read more »

This Living Room Seating Trend Will Be Big In 2023

Midcentury modern living room Originally, living rooms — including parlors and drawing rooms — were used as places of visitation for lost loved ones, or only utilized on fanciful occasions. ... Read more »

Kanye West Under Investigation For Robbery After Grabbing Woman’s Phone As She Films Him: Watch

Kanye West Under Investigation For Robbery After Grabbing Woman’s Phone As She Films Him: Watch In a video of the incident, Kanye argues with a woman filming him and he ... Read more »

Left-wing think tank responsible for thousands of fake Russia stories: new Twitter Files

The latest Twitter Files release shows that the left-wing think that claimed to have tracked Russian online activity was the culprit for thousands of bogus stories. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via ... Read more »

Several Potential WWE Royal Rumble Entrants Backstage In San Antonio

Dana Brooke Smiling While it’s well known that Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes will be two of the wrestlers to be in the upcoming men’s Royal Rumble match, there have been ... Read more »

California relief checks: Who has to file taxes to get the stimulus checks?

The CFTB has already distributed more than $9 billion to California residents and the final payments should arrive in the coming weeks. The state of California is continuing to distribute ... Read more »

A Mom Making 'Iced Coffee' For Her & Her Baby Accidentally Shares A Valuable Lesson People Wish Their Parents Knew

Mom making iced coffee with her baby Introspection is part of every single one of our lives — from waking up, scrolling through social media, and hanging out with our close ... Read more »

Virtual employees on the rise in China, should Americans be worried?

Technology has been taking over the world, especially within the last decade with the advent of the gig economy.  Now, more and more companies are figuring out how to make ... Read more »

New Zealand-bound plane flies 13 hours only to land where it took off

The flight was rescheduled for Saturday and was due to land in Auckland after the airport reopened for international flights Read more »

Ewan McGregor Says It Was Challenging To Act Against A Greenscreen In The Star Wars Prequels

20th Century Studios The legacy of the “Star Wars” saga seems to change with each generation. While the original “Star Wars” trilogy is generally seen as one of the best trilogies ... Read more »

Candace Parker Announces She's Signing With Las Vegas Aces

Candace Parker announces signing with Las Vegas Aces originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago Candace Parker is heading to the Las Vegas Aces, according to the WNBA star’s Instagram. Parker, ... Read more »

Memphis police disband crime-fighting unit whose members are accused of fatally beating Tyre Nichols

The Memphis police unit whose members are charged with beating Tyre Nichols to death was dissolved Saturday. “In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community ... Read more »

Andy Cohen Apologizes For Screaming At Larsa Pippen During The ‘RHOM’ Season 5 Reunion: “I Don’t Like Screaming At Women”

Heidi Gutman/Charles Sykes/Bravo/Getty Images Andy Cohen sat with the stars of The Real Housewives of Miami to film the Season 5 reunion and things got seemingly heated. The Watch What ... Read more »

Bill Maher and Bryan Cranston butt heads over critical race theory

Bill Maher and Bryan Cranston discussed whether schools should be teaching critical race theory to students during Maher’s podcast. Screenshot Club Random Podcast Comedian and podcast host Bill Maher locked ... Read more »

How To Get Your iPhone To Automatically Update

Girl uses iphone with neon lights It is the eternal struggle of the iPhone user: keeping track of all of the software updates. “Do I have enough space for the ... Read more »

Army picks four companies to build tactical truck prototypes

The U.S. Army announced Friday that it had selected four companies to build tactical truck prototypes. In a release, the branch awarded Mack Defense, Navistar Defense, Oshkosh Defense and the ... Read more »

Forget the Jaguar E-Type; The Mercedes W113 Pagoda Is Far Prettier!

Forget the Jaguar E-Type; The Mercedes W113 Pagoda Is Far Prettier! The argument for the prettiest in history will never be sorted as looks are subjective. However, (this may be ... Read more »

Trump says he is ‘more angry’ than ever as he tries to revive White House bid

Photograph: Scott Eisen/Getty Images Donald Trump, the former US president, tried to get his spluttering White House bid off the launchpad on Saturday, declaring himself “more angry” than ever as ... Read more »
Kênh kiến thức kỹ năng, phát triển bản thân, hướng nghiệp, blog nhân sự