Stream or skip? +2023

The limited series with six episodes George & Tammy shared his show time Debut with an appearance in the splashy timeslot right after a new episode of yellowstone on Paramount Network, and going forward, episodes will be released weekly on Showtime before migrating Outstanding+. It’s a strategy clearly designed to showcase the brand’s talent gathered here, with Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain as country music superstars, backed by the likes of Walton Goggins, Steve Zahn, Katy Mixon, Pat Healy and David Wilson Barnes .

opening shot: “In the late ’60s, George Jones was the undisputed king of country music … but he was slipping,” reads the graphic, which hovers over an image of a single microphone positioned in front of a row of stage lights. “Then he met a former hairdresser who was just about to climb the charts. Her name was Virginia Pugh, better known as Tammy Wynette…”

The essentials: It’s Jones (Michael Shannon) who we meet first. While Roy Acuff (Tim Blake Nelson, who stars as the High Lonesome mirror for his Buster Scruggs character) belts out tunes on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, “The Possum” as a skunk backstage is drunk and flushing his money down a toilet . But with some help from supportive manager Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery ((a wigged and hated Walton Goggins) Jones soon joins Acuff for a smooth run through The Race Is On, and looks forward to catching his set in a promising country singer Tammy Wynette (Jessica Chastain) and her songwriting husband Don Chapel (Pat Healy).”True love is scratched for the sake of others,” sings Jones. “The race is on and it looks like Heartbreak, and the winner loses everything…”

When her manager, Billy Sherrill (David Wilson Barnes), arranges a performance, Tammy is initially unfazed by George’s excesses and unprofessionalism. But she fills in for him when his angry wife calls, and is still a bit impressed by the man whose records she’s treasured for years. The plan is still to get them both in the George Jones group, Tammy and Don. But the star, an unrepentant drunk, still knows talent when he hears it. “3,000 Dons a day” move to Nashville, says George, and they meet “3,000 pretty girls a day.” And they all commit to one another if it helps them thrive in Hat City. “But you’re not one of them.”

At a performance in Knoxville, Tammy sings a heartbreaking version of her hit “Apartment #9,” and George and his band join her on “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” and “Why Baby Why.” He visits the studio where she is recording “DIVORCE”. And married George is now brazenly flirting with married Tammy while pretending to further Don’s Nashville ambitions. Tammy’s career is on the way up. George is a country star who hasn’t had a number one in a long time. And they’re both surprised by their instant chemistry. Is George and Tammy’s meeting a true love moment? Or a sad country song just waiting to be written?

What shows will it remind you of? Cynthia Ervo’s Queen of Soul in Nat Geo’s limited series Genius: Aretha met her share of angry husbands and her agency as a performer who has been threatened or belittled because of her gender. And while no firm release date has been announced, anticipation is building Daisy Jones and the Sixthe upcoming Prime Video limited series starring Riley Keough as the leader of a fictional 1970s rock group with Fleetwood Mac undertones.

Our opinion: Tammy and George lightly flirt while she draws on her previous job to wash and set his hair. “What kind of Christian are you? I’ll stop doing your hair you dirty old lady married Pentecost.” The chemistry between Tammy Wynette and George Jones was instant – later, on stage, their easygoing banter and effortless harmony made the Klieg lights shine brighter – and in George & Tammy That’s driven home by the performances of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, performances that must remain crucial if the center of this otherwise fairly standard biographical drama is to be lifted. As Jones, Shannon is as much the irascible drunken bully as he is quietly gallant and magnetic under the lights, while Chastain immediately captured the imperfect promise in Wynette’s vocals, the underlying sadness that gave her songs such heaviness. She’s also a seasoned realist about the ways of men, and that pragmatism is deployed in a hurry once she gets a lot of George Jones’ antics. Chastain and Shannon illustrate well the perilous waters these two navigated before they ever turned their lives around to get married and “Mr. and Ms. Country Music.”

Since the arc of the music biopic is a story as old as the oldest country song, there’s sure to be a piece or two or three of boilerplate stuff in there George & Tammy. But the supporting cast are solid too, and they seem more than willing to frame their titular duo with as many of their flaws as they want with their glory and prosperity. Not only that, but admirable attention is paid to the music itself – to perfect their singing, Chastain and Shannon with vocal coaches and T Bone Burnett – and that’s both lovely to hear and see in a music biopic.

gender and skin: When Tammy is taken to visit George Jones in his Nashville hotel room, he has been entertaining two young women in various states of undress, neither of whom is his wife.

farewell shot: George Jones has arrived at Don and Tammy’s for dinner. Don’s drunk and George does the thing where he openly flirts with Tammy while also kinda playing the southern gentleman and bewitching the kids. George sarcastically sings a few bars of “DIVORCE,” undermining Don’s angry attempts to indoctrinate table manners. This dinner isn’t going to end well, no matter how tasty the breading on Tammy’s Chicken Fried Chicken is.

sleeping star: His character will later become instrumental George & Tammy. But a gorgeously hairy Steve Zahn makes a brief but memorable appearance here Hi haw Music director, songwriter, record producer and session player George Richey.

Most pilot line: “I think you gotta live a song to do it well,” and her statement, along with his amazement at her aching rendition of “Apartment #9,” is all George Jones needs to hear before he knows that Tammy Wynette will change his life personally and recharge his ailing country music career.

Our appeal: Stream it. The necessary biopic parts are all here. but George & Tammy is remarkably carried by its two gorgeous leads, in which Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain embody the best and worst of country music stars, both as individuals in their own right and as two people in a loving but combative celebrity relationship.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenganges

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