What The “George & Tammy” Series Got Right and Wrong
Warning: Some spoilers
For years, fans of traditional country music have been subject to hints and allegations of films, movies, and television series about their heroes and favorite artists that either never materialize, or remain in the rumor mode indefinitely. And if these projects do come to fruition, they’re often so frustratingly terrible, you almost wish they didn’t. See the horrendous Hank Williams I Saw The Light film starring Tom Hiddleston from 2015. Or better off, don’t. Just getting George & Tammy into production, let alone released, feels like a victory in its own right, regardless of how the series turned out.
But overall, George & Tammy turned out pretty spectacular generally speaking, with some very serious caveats that for some viewers ultimately turned out to be fatal to their viewership. There is a reason that almost every single professional review of this series was glowing in its praise. And let’s appreciate that unlike in the music realm where seldom is heard a discouraging word, movie reviewers will unflinchingly return a negative review if they feel it is warranted.
Irrespective of how authentic you may feel the characters were to George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Michael Shannon (George) and Jessica Chastain (Tammy) turned in stellar performances for the characters they looked to evoke on the screen. Michael Shannon had that air of always being on the edge of an eruption, and the complexity of going from an angry drunk to a shameful drunk down masterfully. Jessica Chastain was tasked to work in more subtle shades, commonly having to put on a strong face during catastrophic moments, but still reveal the internal emotion and turmoil that Tammy must have felt in major moments.
This was a film that all stops were taken out for. The settings, the costuming, the top-shelf casting, the on-location cinematography, even the opening sequence showing vinyl records being manufactured took great care with the weight of the subject matter, and the reverence that the lives of George Jones and Tammy Wynette wield within the hearts of country music fans, no matter how much truth may be mixed in with the mythology. Similarly, the dialogue told this duo’s troubling story in a compelling way irrespective of the audience’s knowledge of the lives of these two stars beforehand.
The supporting cast also deserves praise, with David Wilson Barnes evoking the “devil may care” air of the pistol-packing producer Billy Sherrill, and Walter Goggins portraying the evolving character of George Jones best friend Earl “Peauntt” Montgomery from piss drunk to born-again Baptist with the complexity the role required. The portrayal of songwriter, producer, and later Tammy Wynette husband George Richey was a bit jumpy and transparent at times, but the players in the Jones Boys band all did a fine job playing their parts, including real-world performers Zachariah Malachi as fiddle player Charlie Justice and Logan Ledger as George Riddle. Ledger got to sing in the very final scene of the series, and incidentally, might be the greatest living George Jones soundalike.
Especially when it comes to music biopics, these things don’t always turn out this well. Writers and directors who are more fans than they are fair arbiters for what makes a story line or scene compelling to an audience commonly get this wrong, often relying on the weight of the artist’s legacy to carry scenes as opposed to the way things like the lighting helps tell the story, and how the words spoken are never secondary. In regards to cinematography, George & Tammy scores an A+ too.
But to serious country music fans, none of this may matter if you don’t get certain elements of the story correct, or the characters don’t come across as believable. While professional critics and general audiences rightfully fawned over this series, some dedicated fans of George Jones and Tammy Waynette sway somewhere between mildly disappointed to downright fit to be tied how George & Tammy turned out.
The first and most obvious complaint comes with the singing of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain as George and Tammy. Since neither are professional singers—and absolutely no soul on the face of this earth could ever match the vocal majesty of George or Tammy while also pulling off the acting requirements these castings required—you still want to give them credit for having the guts to sing their own parts. Furthermore, having the two lip-sync over the original songs would have resulted in the same degree of criticism, just of a different nature from audience members decreeing the lip-sync practice as inauthentic, distracting, and too dependent on the suspension of disbelief.
There is no right answer on how to handle the musical performances of a musical biopic, unless you’re Jamie Foxx. So you just have to choose either lip sync or live performance, and do the best you can with that decision. But where George & Tammy got this aspect of this film wrong is by leaning too much on the singing of these two non-signing actors to the point where they were left open and exposed. Instead of perhaps showing 20 to 30 seconds of a stage or studio performance, and then maybe cutting away and finishing the scene off with the original track, they left Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon out there for two or three minutes at a time, and anchored the episodes around these performances, fueling the frustration of dedicated country fans.
Further infringing on the audience’s sensibilities, some of the live performances were actually lip synced by the actors to studio recordings of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain singing George and Tammy songs. In other words, it was the worst of both worlds where you not only didn’t get the real deal recording, and you got an asynchronous lip-synced performance too. Sometimes when a song was just playing in the background as part of a scene and not a live performance itself, it was still Michael and Jessica singing, not George and Tammy. Sony has even released a 26-song album of Michael and Jessica’s renditions from the series, which in many respects illustrates the hubris with which they approached the musical performances of this project.
But again, if you decide instead to have the actors lip sync to the original recordings, you could have just as many disappointed fans and complaints. It’s also possible that the creators of the film could not secure the rights to the original recordings. With the fractured and tumultuous nature of both the George Jones and Tammy Wynette estates, this is a very real possibility, especially when you consider that Nancy Jones (George’s widow) is said to have her own George Jones film in the works.
The other common and fair criticism of the series was some of the clear mistakes and anachronisms in spots. In the first episode for example, they showed Roy Acuff in a cowboy hat, which Roy Acuff never wore, and fans crashing the stage at the Ryman Auditorium at a Grand Ole Opry performance, which never happened in any era. George Richey is introduced in the first episode as the musical director of Hee-Haw where George Jones had performed at that point multiple times. But the first episode was set in the late 60 before Hee-Haw had begun airing.
This was just the start of how the series played fast and loose with the timeline of events throughout, getting under the collar of some fans and historians who may know the story of George and Tammy more intimately than general audiences. These criticisms levied by well-informed viewers and specifically by podcaster Tyler Mahan Coe who profiled George Jones in-depth in his recent season are certainly valid. The question is if these criticisms are warranted for a series that is not meant to be a documentary or dry recitation of facts, but a dramatization based on real events that the public understands will take some liberties to make for an enjoyable and compelling watch.
Dramatized biopics like George & Tammy tend to work more like old-time maps, where the most important features are overly-emphasized, and the minute details are lost or perhaps out of order compared to the truth. All of the major stories from the duo’s tumultuous marriage and duets are portrayed in this series—from George Jones flipping the table at Don Chapel’s house, to George riding his lawnmower to the bar after his keys had been taken from him, to the “attempted murder” by George of Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery—but they may not be portrayed exactly on the proper timeline, or with every detailed fact of the occurrence perfectly accurate.
But even in a six episode series, there is only so much time to get into the details of two lifetimes worth of information, and enough drama for two dozen lifetimes like the drama George and Tammy experienced. So things are going to be condensed, and important moments entangled to get them all in. Overall, were all the important points touched on in the series? Yes. Was the public dramatically misled from the portrayal of these two country legends? Zooming out and looking at the entirety of the series as opposed to zooming in on each little scene and scrutinizing it, probably not. George & Tammy did a fair job telling the story of these two in a generally accurate manner.
But again, that doesn’t mean that the objections raised about specific details of the series are invalid. Tyler Mahan Coe released an entire series of videos and a host of scathing tweets scrutinizing most every scene and bit of dialogue in the series. Many of Tyler’s issues about the series are probably accurate, and he is most certainly an authority on the subject matter. But this can’t be confused with artistic criticism of a dramatized series. That is an analytical assessment wanting to get every single detail of a fictionalized drama based on true events correct—something that has its place for people who want to delve into the detail-by-detail accuracy of this series, but fair to question as relevant to the outcome of what the series attempted to be, which was a portrayal of the lives of George & Tammy for entertainment value and general insight.
Tyler Mahan Coe also has a history of considering himself the sole authority on whatever subject matter he chooses to broach, and often based off of books as opposed to real life sources, like Georgette Jones, who is the only child of George and Tammy, and whose book this series is based on. Georgette also was an executive producer of George & Tammy. Some have pointed out that Georgette wasn’t even alive when half of this series takes place. But Tyler Mahan Coe was alive for even less of it. That doesn’t mean Georgette gets it all right and Tyler Mahan Coe gets it all wrong. It just means that much of history is “living” in the respect that there can be different takes behind the same instance, and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what happened in a certain instance.
But a more broad criticism from Tyler Mahan Coe and others is that the series didn’t capture the true essence of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, or their tumultuous relationship. I have to respectfully disagree. The underlying theme, and perhaps the master stroke of this series was how it illustrated the entanglement of the personal lives of artists with the business interests of the industry with an emotional impact that resonated deeply with a receptive audience.
From the very beginning of the series, George Jones is cussing the business of country music, pontificating how it will tear the couple’s relationship asunder, and how their misery is being used to sell records. “Happy at home doesn’t make hits” is the quote from Episode 3 when everything was hunky dory in the George & Tammy household, and they were struggling commercially. In episode 5, it’s underscored how it’s not just the fans who benefit from the drama, but the business, creating a perverse set of incentives for artists to lead messed up lives so it makes for good country music—an issue we still experience in country music today.
In episode 6, George Jones goes on a rant, saying in part, “The worse I got, the more they loved me. The only reason strangers can love me is ’cause they don’t know me.” The concerns for Tammy Wynette were even more pronounced since she was a woman. Rumors of the same behavior that ensconced George Jones as a God could result in scandal for her amid a more quickly dwindling shelf life, and the judgement of the public. The callous nature of the country music business was in full display in this series, especially in the concluding episode where Tammy is cringingly shown “going pop” to stay relevant, and George speaks about how today’s country is not country.
But even with all of this compelling content, George & Tammy does feel like it slightly failed on a fundamental objective, which was to get the legacies of George Jones and Tammy Wynette out to a bigger audience, and a new generation. This wasn’t entirely the fault of the series. Some general viewer criticism has been that the film was just too much of a downer, especially for debuting it during the heart of the Holidays. Since it was on one of the other streaming services (Paramount+) and a struggling cable network (Showtime) as opposed to HBO or Netflix (it was too racy for network TV), it just kind of got lost in the shuffle. Competing with Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan’s new series Tulsa King, and the general Holiday madness, George & Tammy barely touched a nerve in the zeitgeist like we were hoping for. It was just too hard to find during too busy of a time.
And that’s a shame, because even with all the faults and fair criticisms, George & Tammy feels worthy of an audience, at least one that’s willing to go along for the ride as opposed to finding reasons to fault it. Superbly acted, produced with love for the story and these two country legends, George & Tammy tells the tragic, yet beautiful story of not just two performers, but of the eternal dichotomies inherent in country music, and why it compels the soul like it does.
January 19, 2023 @ 10:12 am
I enjoyed the series and largely agree with the review. One qualm I have with the series is the treatment of Nancy Jones, who is portrayed as exploitative of George. I never heard or got that impression before I saw this series. I wonder if that was accurate or if it was more a case of someone having an axe to grind.
January 19, 2023 @ 10:46 am
No doubt that Nancy Jones has been a bulldog and a staunch advocate for the George Jones legacy like few other spouses, and she continues that role today. But when you act in such a manner, you’re also going to ruffle some feathers. There has also been what I believe is fair criticism of Nancy Jones for how she has treated some of George’s previous family and children, who may have their own axe to grind due to the common issues that come with the passing on of a massive fortune. There was also the arrest of her business partner, the closing of the George Jones Museum, the selling of George’s name and likeness rights, and other mismanagement that has some scrutinizing Nancy. This film was based off a book written by Georgette Jones, and there is clearly a rivalry between her and Nancy. Nancy is said to be behind her own film about George. This very well could be one of the reasons no George Jones music was featured in this series. I agree the brief portrayal of Nancy was pointed, but that doesn’t mean it may have not been accurate. Nancy Jones is a complex character in country history, and as this series illustrates, the life and affairs of George Jones was extremely messy, and remains so today.
January 22, 2023 @ 5:51 pm
I would have given “George & Tammy” a 10 just based on the acting. Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon were outstanding. They should both win an Oscar. I never knew much about George Jones or Tammy Wynette but I started reading about them and listening to their songs. I’m not really into the nasally sound of country music. It’s a shame Tammy Wynette didn’t have a Will so her daughters could inherit what she wanted them to inherit. I was most taken aback by the fact that Tammy Wynette left her husband with thousands while George Jones left his family with millions. Wynette had more hits and was always on time for her shows while Jones often didn’t show up at all. Jones did live almost thirty years longer than Wynette.
January 23, 2023 @ 10:48 am
George lived 15 years longer than Tammy 1998 Tammy passed. 2013 George passed… do the math. Get it right!
January 19, 2023 @ 10:26 am
Loved this series and so did my wife, who knew almost nothing about George Jones or Tammy Wynette. Strict factual accuracy just isn’t all that important in a drama series. You probably wouldn’t want to watch it if they didn’t take at least some liberties for narrative’s sake. The criticism of the singing is also off base I think. You have to find someone who can sing and act and at least passably resembles the real-life people, or live with 4th-wall breaking lip syncing. I think they got it just right.
January 19, 2023 @ 10:28 am
I thought it was very good and well worth watching. Sad, traumatic and powerful. Good drama and all based on fact. I enjoyed it more the more I watched it. George Richey did not come out of it well at all. Well worth a watch for any true country music fan and even if not, it is a powerful drama with great acting.
January 19, 2023 @ 10:23 pm
It was a complete mischaracterization of George Richey. He was the opposite of what was portrayed on screen. Shame on Georgette Jones, but all of the people in the know in Nashville know she’s a liar. Her own father, George Jones, got on the World Wide Web and called her one. Both of her parents are rolling over in their graves and I’m pretty sure Tammy would claw her eyes out for this! Simply put – she’s a spoiled brat with famous parents who never amounted to anything on her own. She has used her parents names as weapons for decades and now she and the other producers can live with the knowledge that they murdered the names of GEORGE AND TAMMY. Disgraceful and irresponsible producers.
George and Tammy Fan
January 25, 2023 @ 6:37 pm
Marie Kidd, in your comment here the terminology you use looks suspiciously similar to the terminology used by the George Richey Remembered post made on their Facebook page.
George Richey Remembered
“Sherry Robertson Greene
Thank you for your honest kind words. People who actually knew George Richey know he was one of the giving, lovable, wonderful people on the planet.
It makes me sick that Georgette got away with telling more lies about George Jones, TAMMY WYNETTE and George Richey.
If her parents were here they’d claw her eyes out for what they did. She’s a total disgrace.”
Sherry Robertson Greene
“George Richey Remembered she sure is!!”
January 19, 2023 @ 10:38 am
The only problem I had with the limited series was the cinematography. I’d give that F, compared to your A+. The camera was too shaky at times and its angels sometimes overly unnecessarily (like shots from the floor or ceiling) and it was way too dark. Watching some scenes were difficult – made me feel nauseous and drunk (if that was the purpose then it succeed).
I’m glad you addressed “living history.” No one really knows what’s the absolute truth anymore. When I get with my old friends from high school and we start retelling stories, I always preference mine with “this might not have happened this way, but it’s how I remember it … today.” I liked having a fresh take on an otherwise worn out story.
I thought the beauty of the whole series was Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain singing their parts. The scene that will stick with me was George Jones singing “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in the studio with Tammy Wynette sitting in the control room. If that scene was lip synced, all that emotion would have been lost. Shannon’s struggles and warts singing the song made it beautiful.
Overall, it was a real good series. I don’t see me revisiting it, mostly because I found sone scenes aesthetically unappealing and challenging, but I’m glad I shelled out for the Showtime add-on option with Paramount+ subscription.
I know there’s not a music component to 1923, but I’d like a recap of your thoughts to that series too when it’s finished. So far, I think it’s been the best of the Yellowstone franchise.
January 19, 2023 @ 11:03 am
I can appreciate how the expressive cinematography could be a turn off for some. I loved it, but totally understand if others wanted something more articulate.
I don’t want to come across like I’m attacking Tyler Mahan Coe or anyone else who is criticizing or fact checking this series. That’s a fair and worthy enterprise, and I’m glad people are doing it. But you also have to balance that with the realities of cinema. What has always most frustrated me about Tyler Mahan Coe is that in many instances (though not all), he states things as certified facts, attacks others who have differing takes, and says to anyone who disagrees with him, “FUCK YOU!” That’s not cool. Sure, there’s wrong takes too. But let’s discuss these things. Let’s listen to people’s different interpretations. What’s beautiful about music and life is the mystery. Let’s not try to destroy that by over-analyzing and arrogant takes because it garners you attention on social media.
Yellowstone, 1923, George & Tammy, Tulsa King, they all came at country fans at the same time. This was too much in too short of a time window. I think that is one of the things that hurt this series. I’ll try to get to 1923 at some point.
January 19, 2023 @ 3:28 pm
Agreed. Tyler certainly comes across very arrogant in his opinions, but I do enjoy his opinions.
Your favorite band sucks is an enjoyable podcast.
February 26, 2023 @ 6:59 am
Tyler may have his issues, but his C&R podcast is so well done. I listened to it after watching G&T and was much more entertained and better informed than watching the series. It is a compelling work and left me wishing that the producers would have used his work and made a 12 part series. It would have been a much better series.
February 26, 2023 @ 8:32 am
I was at the Ameripolitan Awards last week in Memphis. Being honored were The Adams Brothers from Ohio, who were introduced by Kevin Smith, who regularly comments and contributes here at SCM. The Adams Brothers basic formed the nucleus of The Jones Boys and created the foundation of that backing band. Gary is dead now, but Don and Arnie are still around. They have never been interviewed, asked questions from, or even heard from Tyler Mahan Coe. They were there. They lived it. And they’re still alive to tell their side of stories. The fatal flaw of Tyler’s process is 1) He solely relies on books as opposed to human intelligence. 2) He presents everything with a confidence that he is the sole authority on a subject while he avoids all living human intelligence, and any take counter to his own is wrong and the people giving them are idiots. 3) He acts like certain moments and instances are certified facts as opposed to open to interpretation through different accounts.
Of course you’re going to enjoy C&R more than the TV series if you listened to C&R first. It’s like reading the book before watching the movie. And also, Coe did his damndest to undercut this series at every turn. As I expressed above, there were numerous flways with the series that I take issue with. But I also take issue with how Coe presents himself as the ultimate authority on stuff while not actually talking to the people who were there. So do a lot of the people who were actually there themselves.
January 19, 2023 @ 11:20 am
As someone who considers himself an expert on the golden era of country music, and has very strong opinions about what country music should sound like going forward, and there’s someone who has been up close and personal with the relics of items of country music past, including playing, Joe, ZINKIN’sstring bass, meeting the current owner of the hammer dulcimer grandpa Jones his daughter played on several HPE each AW performances as well as the Opry, as well as the owner of one of Grandpa‘s Banjo’s, and as a country singer in my own right who recently played a show at an event where one of the George Jones tour buses was being shown, and even Opening the show with one of my favorite George Jones songs, you will never convince me that making any kind of a film on a major country music star that isn’t also a major popstar, it’s going to be a good idea
The simple fact of George Jones may be or have been the greatest country singer ever, but he simply didn’t cross outside of country to the point that he’s only well-known in the country music community. We’re at least guys like Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, managed to make big waves in the greater general cultural zeitgeist. Comparatively, almost nobody knows about George Jones. And while the George Jones story deserves telling, the simple fact is the telling it correctly isn’t going to draw an audience who recognizes that it deserves to be told, and trying to convince an audience that it deserves to be told, won’t be done by telling it truthfully or accurately. This is the reason that so many major country music films Fall flat. A lack of a greater audience. The simple fact that the country music audience already knows the story, and the people who don’t know the story aren’t going to be easily convinced that it’s a good story, means it from my perspective, making any kind of production of this nature is an exercise in futility, because it’s simply not going to succeed with a broad selection of possible viewers.
I haven’t been able to see it for myself, and I intend to someday, but I went in with low expectations, simply, because I was expecting it to be bad in the first place, and the fact that it was good for what it was, I’m going to take, is an absolute win, considering that I could’ve told you that it was a bad idea that wasn’t going to do anything meaningful in the first place. That’s not to say it shouldn’t have been done, that is to say that the people doing it should have had healthier expectations going in.
January 20, 2023 @ 10:50 am
Damn voice to text
February 23, 2023 @ 6:37 am
I absolutely loved the movie! What a love story they had! It’s just sad they never wound up back together. Back when they were popular singers, I was only passibly interested in country music.
January 19, 2023 @ 11:24 am
1. Any clue when the series will be available for digital download / blu ray purchase?
2. Have you ever covered season 1 of Tales from the Tour Bus?
January 19, 2023 @ 1:14 pm
Tales from the Tour Bus is one of the best music series I’ve ever seen. So freakin’ enjoyable.
What Otis Gibb does on youtube is enjoyable.
Idk how you capture the crowd that prefers the Tales from the tour bus, and youtube interview style story telling and convince them to watch a dramatization.
January 19, 2023 @ 1:18 pm
I’m sure it will be released direct to consumers at some point, but I have not seen any specific details yet.
I did a bunch of coverage of “Tales From The Tour Bus” before the series aired, but since I didn’t have Showtime (or whatever channel it was on) at the time, I wasn’t able to watch it in real time. Since them I have seen most of it, but need to sit down and watch the whole thing. Truth be known, I’m just not a TV guy.
January 19, 2023 @ 6:53 pm
I get the sense that George and Tammy is appealing to the demographic that named their kids George and Wynette and some misspelling of Rhiannon, but the kids don’t have Showtime and are busy watching Yellowstone.
January 19, 2023 @ 6:54 pm
**And parents don’t have Showtime
January 24, 2023 @ 7:38 am
My basic cable provider is Spectrum, and all 6 episodes are already available to watch “On Demand.”
January 19, 2023 @ 11:36 am
The “based on a true story” genre is such a mixed bag, and I have found that ignorance is bliss (and sometimes a requirement) when watching such media. Biopics such as The Greatest Showman (about P.T. Barnum) and The Founder (about Ray Kroc, the eventual CEO of McDonald’s), while enjoyable and captivating in their own rights, may leave you a tad disappointed when researching their historical accuracy. Other biopics, such as Hidden Figures (about black female mathematicians working at NASA), may cause some genuine upset when you start weighing truth versus fiction (such as the insertion of fictionalized NASA employees with fictionalized agendas throughout the film). Why, even A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (a reporter’s account of his friendship with Fred Rogers), has ample fiction in a film about the wholesome and honest Mister Rogers, but it is still a film worth watching for its navigation of strained relationships, death, and grief.
Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t create for accuracy; they create for shock, outage, emotion, and entertainment. It is really best to check one’s brain at the door when watching a biopic, assume that the historical accuracy is probably off to varying degrees, and hope for a day when accurate enlightenment on a subject is more important than sheer watchability.
January 19, 2023 @ 11:45 am
Hollywood creates for the almighty dollar ONLY and you can bet on that.
January 19, 2023 @ 12:14 pm
it sounds like you might want to watch a documentary.
January 19, 2023 @ 1:09 pm
Do you have any recommendations on documentaries that have appealed to you?
January 19, 2023 @ 2:00 pm
pretty much anything ken burns is great and very in depth – especially for history.
i’ll pretty much any music doc, even if the music doesn’t align with my interests – no direction home, summer of soul, the eagles doc, tom petty, and grateful dead are all worth watching. highly rec ‘get back’ too.
there are some good crime ones – the imposter, the jinx, paradise lost, capturing the friedmans, tickled, wild wild country
weird/slice of life ones – american movie, three identical strangers, grizzly man,
January 19, 2023 @ 5:46 pm
Ken Burns is great?
For slanted and East Coast views, sure.
He badly botched the baseball and country music bios.
January 19, 2023 @ 6:52 pm
it’s no stephen crowder documentary, i will grant you that.
January 20, 2023 @ 8:44 am
Thank you for these recommendations! I will need to save this list and check them out.
January 19, 2023 @ 7:01 pm
I have a documentary recommendation: The BBC on country music that came out about 20 years ago when a lot of country music founders were still alive. It’s called Lost highway and you can find it on YouTube in various uploads. Once in a while episodes get taken down because of copyright strike from the various music that’s included, so you may have to dig around. It’s a really good series. a lot of the people who are actually there are doing the talking, compared to what’s come out since then where by necessity the people doing the talking are just famous fans (like that Ken Burns one)
January 20, 2023 @ 5:58 pm
Thank you for this recommendation! YouTube is a gold mine for content that has not been rereleased.
January 19, 2023 @ 1:24 pm
I find myself preferring films and series based on actual events because you don’t have to suspend disbelief as much, and you also get informed while you’re being entertained. After I have watched one of these projects, I always go online and read about what they got right, and what they got wrong so I know what the true story was. That is why I’m not opposed to folks fact checking this series, as long as it’s within reason. It’s a healthy thing to do. And knowing these stories from having read and reported on them for years, I would say that “George & Tammy” was generally accurate. I really don’t think you have to be blissfully ignorant of the story to enjoy it. Can you go though each little scene and nitpick it until you’ve convinced yourself the entire series was an abomination? Sure you can. But this is not a dry historical recitation where such work is warranted.
January 19, 2023 @ 6:56 pm
One movie that got this right as far as being enjoyable and going for an essence but not being 100% true as far as a biography with events in chronological order was the Elton John Rocketman movie.
January 21, 2023 @ 9:16 am
Re “ignorance is bliss”…
Ignorance of lies and deceptions (=most mainstream news and establishment decrees) is bliss because exposing yourself to that is self-propagandization.
Ignorance of truths is not, or only temporarily or rarely, bliss because it is ultimately self-defeating.
The FALSE mantra of “ignorance is bliss”, promoted in the latter sense, is a product of a fake sick culture that has indoctrinated its “dumbed down” (therefore TRULY ignorant, therefore easy to control) people with many such manipulative slogans.
You can find the proof that ignorance is hardly ever bliss (and if so only superficial temporary fake bliss), and how you get to buy into this lie (and other self-defeating lies), in the article “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” …. https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html
““We’re all in this together” is a tribal maxim. Even there, it’s a con, because the tribal leaders use it to enforce loyalty and submission. … The unity of compliance.” — Jon Rappoport, Investigative Journalist
“2 weeks to flatten the curve has turned into…3 shots to feed your family!” — Unknown
“If ‘ignorance is bliss’ –there should be more happy people.” — Unknown
January 19, 2023 @ 1:28 pm
Yeah Nancy Jones hasn’t exactly been a “welcoming stepmom” to Georgette. Controversy seems to closely follow her around. From going on a media spree after Jones’ death and boldly claiming “I saved George Jones from alcohol” to some things I’ve seen and experienced as a Nashville resident for 20 years.
Remember the plot of land George bought in Woodlawn Cemetery specifically for his broke musician friends, including Johnny Paycheck? While Johnny Paycheck was the first one buried in that plot, since George’s death, Titans kicker Rob Bironas has been buried there along with several other non-musicians. They are now offering burial plots to the general public.
I went to visit George’s grave one day a week before the anniversary of his death. Nancy and Jeanie Pruitt were sitting in front of George’s grave. I exchanged pleasantries with them until some guy came out of nowhere and asked me if I knew who they were. He proceeded to ask me if I wanted an autograph and before I could answer, he’d already popped open the trunk and pulled out a stash of 8x10s of George and Nancy and a Sharpie.
Don’t even get me started on the gravestone itself.
January 19, 2023 @ 6:58 pm
It would have been cool if Georgette could have sung some of the parts because she nails the Tammy Wynette sound.
January 19, 2023 @ 10:30 pm
Georgette Jones is a joke and a horrible singer. No one wants to hear her.
February 6, 2023 @ 7:25 pm
I heard Georgette Jones singing “Tonight I Dont Give a Dam” OMG I heard George Jones.
January 19, 2023 @ 1:32 pm
I thought it was a fairly solid show. I never expected the lead actors to sound exactly like George and Tammy, so I wasn’t all that letdown.
January 19, 2023 @ 1:57 pm
I can understand why people were bothered by the singing, but as you pointed out, it would be nearly impossible to find actors who could both act and sound like George and Tammy did. I’m a little puzzled by your criticism of them lip-syncing to their own (Shannon’s and Chastain’s) recordings, though. Isn’t every filmed musical performance a lip sync, if for no other reason than the film editing would necessitate it?
One other question: with respect to the availability of original recordings – wouldn’t that be up to Sony and not the estates of Jones and Wynette?
January 19, 2023 @ 10:19 pm
Each publishing deal is different. They may have been available, but very expensive to license for the film. Or maybe they weren’t expensive and they decided from the beginning to have the actors sing. I’m just throwing that out there as a possibility.
January 21, 2023 @ 4:32 am
While I guess a multi camera video and audio recording of a live performance edited and put back together would technically be lip syncing most people use that term to mean a separately recorded audio track mixed into the audio from the video performance.
January 19, 2023 @ 2:29 pm
I think they skipped such a huge part in the 80s and 90s. I would have loved to see more of George’s comeback with He Stopped Loving her today.
George Jones was my first concert in 80 or 81 and the main thing I remember is the pa announcer saying “George is in the bullding!”
January 19, 2023 @ 3:53 pm
I first heard details about George Jones on Cocaine & Rhinestones season 2 (not so much because I was interested in GJ, but because season 1 of that podcast was such a great history of country music). I’ve watched Tyler’s first two or three reviews of the George and Tammy series. I stopped after that because it was pretty clear what his criticisms were. Now I’ve read your review of the series.
I guess it must have some entertainment value and be well produced on some levels, seeing as you give it some high marks. Personally, after listening to such a well-researched and well-documented account as Tyler gave, I am just simply not interested in watching a fictional series.
To name just one example, the role of Billy Sherrill is certainly much more complex and well-explained in Tyler’s account than it seems to be in the series. Also, I would insist on hearing the magic of the original recordings, no matter how great the actors’ courage in trying to pull this off. (Ok, just my opinion.)
So, it’s nice of you to find some good values in the series, it’s also nice of you to actually include Tyler’s (and other people’s) criticisms in your article – but in the end I’m left wondering “why watch it?” I heard what is probably the best researched version of the story, it was actually quite sad, now why would I want to see someone else’s fictional tale? I think I’d rather listen to some of the good current country artists you keep pointing out on your site. Thank you for that!
January 19, 2023 @ 10:25 pm
I would not called “George & Tammy” fictional. I would call it dramatized. I did use the term “fictional” at one point in this review as a synonym, but overall, it’s stays pretty close to the story. I certainly understand that someone may prefer the Coe approach to the story, but let’s face it, for the vast majority of people, it’s too esoteric for their interests. I do think Coe decided to view the series as competition. And Tyler Mahan Coe does not like competition.
January 20, 2023 @ 1:05 am
I’m apparently in the minority. I subscribed to Showtime specifically to watch this series, but I could only get through one and a half episodes, and I have zero desire to continue. There was so much fabrication in the first episode alone, I simply couldn’t abide it.
Country fans have to view any country series or documentary with a jaundiced eye. I was not a fan of Ken Burns’ take on country music, either. I think we’re all just so thrilled that someone chooses to focus on our music that we tend to overlook their deficiencies..
January 20, 2023 @ 6:37 am
Thanks for the review Trigger, I had been looking forward to your take on the series.
I have to say that I agree pretty much 100% with your review. I really enjoyed the show. I kept telling my wife, “I can’t believe there is now actually a big budget production on my all-time favorite singer!” Let’s all pause and just think about how fortunate we are to have that; George and Tammy are not Johnny and June- this was not a given.
I was also pleasantly surprised that the last episode brought the story into the ‘90s. I don’t know why, but for some reason I just assumed that the show would end earlier in time, maybe with “He Stopped Loving her Today.”
I really appreciated this, because later-life George Jones is who I fell in love with, in middle school when my first tape was “High Tech Redneck” and my first concert was GJ at the Salem Civic Center in 1995 (as much as I could try to explain to my children how dense the cloud of cigarette smoke was in the hallway by the bathrooms and concessions, they would still never be able to comprehend it).
The scene with George being interviewed by the DJ was a nice touch, because it addressed how vocal he was about the state of country music during that time. That’s the kind of thing I would not necessarily have expected this kind of show to cover.
Maybe I should have known this already, but I was so surprised by the scene where George and Tammy made out in the back of the bus. I read an interview with Abe Sylvia who said that they were definitively hooking up during the “One” tour. I read the Rich Kienzle biography a few years and don’t remember this being addressed, but maybe I’m just drawing a blank.
One thing that bothered me a little was the very last scene, singing “Lost Highway” on the bus. After the entire series was so real and intense, this struck me as a really sappy way to end things. In the scene immediately before George was gripped with regret for squandering his relationship with Tammy who he still loved so much, and then suddenly there is this funny little sing-a-long? I didn’t get that.
January 20, 2023 @ 7:24 am
I enjoyed the series and thought the actors did a good job both acting and singing….Nancy Jones and George Richey were portrayed as ruthless business
people…were they really this bad?….if true, I don’t know how Tammy Wynette could have married him!
January 20, 2023 @ 8:44 am
Posting this link for anyone who has yet to see it.
Very sweet. Really got my heart.
George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today.
January 20, 2023 @ 9:48 am
“Writers and directors who are more fans than they are fair arbiters for what makes a story line or scene compelling to an audience commonly get this wrong . . .”
This made me think of a slightly different but similar concept that I have often considered.
In college I had to read “Democracy in America” by de Tocqueville. It is celebrated for its remarkable insight into political and social participation in 19th Century America. One of the big takeaways was that this was accomplished by a French author, who as an “outsider” was able to bring a removed and objective perspective to the subject, whereas an American undertaking the same task would necessarily be hindered by his/her own biases and preconceptions.
It seems to me that there is some of that at play in country music, with Michael Apted making “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and Colin Escott as the definitive Hank Williams biographer. (There may be other examples?) It would seem to be counter-intuitive that an Englishman would be the one to tell Loretta Lynn’s story so well, but maybe that is exactly why it worked.
January 20, 2023 @ 10:26 am
I 100% agree with this. I think it’s really difficult to be a fair arbiter when you’re embedded in whatever subject matter you’re covering, or too passionate to see the truth. This is one of the reasons I don’t interview artists, and don’t live in Nashville. Not saying you can’t be impartial and passionate too. But you have to be able to rise above a subject and take a more global view of it.
January 20, 2023 @ 11:35 am
The long-lasting damage from bio-pics like this is that most of the folks that watch them are not familiar with all of the true facts of the subject’s life. They have no concept of what may have been changed or misrepresented for onscreen “dramatic effect.” So viewers come away from these films with a distorted sense of reality. The film is not viewed by them as a “dramatization” but rather as the true story because it was about real people.
Most people probably understand that dialog between characters is fabricated as no stenographer was present at the time. But for me when EVENTS are fabricated or misrepresented that is a step too far. To place Tammy at the recording session for “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is ridiculous nonsense. Now every time folks that watched this series hear that song they will visualize George singing it to Tammy although she was nowhere in proximity.
In the 70’s I talked with folks that regarded the dreadful Hank Williams 1964 fantasy bio-pic “Your Cheatin’ Heart” as the TRUE story of his life. They often referenced the bogus ending and believed that Hank died while en route to the New Year’s Day concert that would have reunited him with his wife & family. In fact Hank had remarried several months earlier and Audrey & the kids were never there. Pure Hollywood B.S.
There was enough drama and true heartbreak in the saga of George & Tammy’s lives that concocting false tales was totally unnecessary. But sadly this latest misrepresentation of country music history will likely have the same lasting effect on viewers as the Hank Williams fantasy did.
George & Tammy deserved better and to have their story told honestly and accurately. They were let down and disappointed during their lives by so many and even in death their own daughter betrayed them for an immoral payday.
January 20, 2023 @ 3:45 pm
People had the same complaint about Bohemian Rhapsody being fast a lose with the timeline and stories (when there was no need). Also people jumped on Rami not singing his parts AND getting the Oscar when singing a major part of the film.
Biopics are always a toss for me. Which is why though filled with cliches a film like, Crazy Heart resonates more because it is about the overall theme and feelings. And being fiction doesn’t have to worry about facts. So if you want to do a film about real people do a documentary and let let the audience decide from materials presented what the story is.
January 20, 2023 @ 4:43 pm
Biggest thing they got wrong was the size of the actor. Michael Shannon is about 6’5″ while Possum was more like 5’6″. It just looked weird to see him tower over Tammy…
January 20, 2023 @ 5:17 pm
The problem i had was with the white boots “Tammy” was wearing.
They looked totally ridiculous. The producers etc. were lazy to the extreme not demanding that the VERY SEXY go go boots of the period, were worn.
How problematic would it have been to find a great pair of go go boots in Jessica Chastain’s size, on ebay?
Instead, they had her wear those ridiculous Lady Gaga monstrosities.
At that point, was like, done.
Very low budget, production.
January 21, 2023 @ 11:39 am
Just finished this and enjoyed it, and it got me on a George Jones listening kick so what else could you ask for. I thought the emotion they conveyed while singing really sold the songs even if people think they weren’t that great at it. I listened to most of TMC’s podcast on the subject when it came out but kind of fell off because it seemed like he had a real ax to grind against Tammy Wynette and I got tired of that negative aspect of it. Anyway this wasn’t a documentary as has been said, and it succeeded at entertaining.
January 21, 2023 @ 1:55 pm
Two degenerate liberals playing two country greats = hard pass.
January 21, 2023 @ 3:08 pm
If you think George Jones and Tammy Wynette never did anything considered degenerate maybe you should be watching the show.
January 21, 2023 @ 3:33 pm
Haven’t seen the show, first off. Plan to though. I still have a few questions/thoughts though (Tammy and George, individually, are both in my all time top 5):
– Like I said, I love both artists. George is of course a truly great singer, regardless of genre. What Tammy and Billy Sherrill did as a partnership to me rivals John and Paul (of the Beatles). It’s genius (if you can even say that about two people working together).
However, George and Tammy as a duo…highly overrated to me (Porter and Dolly ftw). So I hope this show at least paid proper tribute to their greatness as individual artists.
– I’m curious about the treatment of Tammy. I know that Jessica Chastain was a producer and has more of a feminist bent (surely more so than Tammy), which, fine, as long as it doesn’t shy away from a big part of what made Tammy great, which was her (even to me, as a somewhat left of center guy myself) defiant stance as an artist against the trendy “free love” ethos of her day.
I think it’s important to remember that back when she sang songs like “Stand By Your Man”, “Run Woman Run” and “Singing My Song”, she likely was not singing against d-I-v-o-r-c-e per se but rather that, eapecially for Tammy’s audience, that this new liberated ethos was a sort of “grass is always greener” mirage.
– Lastly, the most interesting aspect of a show featuring Tammy Wynette is the tragedy of Tammy Wynette, so this is more a question or whether it’s addressed at all in the show?
January 23, 2023 @ 11:25 am
The show is “George & Tammy,” so it really only focuses on their time together (not individually). Like someone mentioned earlier in the comments, he/she was disappointed over the decade + time jump after “He Stopped Loving Her” recorded. That’s because Tammy and George went in different directions until their reunited tour after Tammy’s near death.
I’ve never been a Tammy Wynette fan (her music or as a crazy person). But, I thought the show portrayed her in a very positive light without shying away from her issues. Any overly political tones about her music or political agenda weren’t addressed. The music was mostly relative to how it fit into the narrative of Tammy and Georges’ life. Once again, the show was “Tammy & George.”
January 22, 2023 @ 5:44 am
Jessica, along with the makeup and wardrobe folks, did an impressive job of portraying Tammy through the years and health issues. When they would flash back to young Tammy, it was sometimes like seeing a different person. Hard to believe one actress portrayed all the ages, and so convincingly.
Typo alert for the article: Walton Goggins, not Walter.
George and Tammy fan
January 23, 2023 @ 3:27 am
I thought the George and Tammy series was excellent and I’ve been a loyal fan of both of them for 50 years.
I’m glad the actors sang themselves. And by the way Nancy has just written a book so stay tuned…
February 7, 2023 @ 11:51 pm
February 8, 2023 @ 12:00 am
The final episode was sad.. It was good to see them in the sack together. I loved when Geoge asked her to go away with him. That was tragic…but redemptive.. I want to believe that.
February 21, 2023 @ 12:25 pm
This is my option of the movie I enjoy the movie George and Tammy and I watched it 25 times so what does that tell you in my opinion it should win an academy award