The Reel Review
Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon star in this Showtime limited series about the complicated relationship between country music superstars George Jones and Tammy Wynette, tracing the highs and lows of their lives together – in particular, Jones’ volatile, alcohol-fueled personality and Wynette’s lifelong medical issues. It is based on their daughter Georgette’s memoir, The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.
Just as she did in her Oscar-winning performance of Tammy Faye Bakker in 2021’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Chastain again does a fantastic job channeling an icon without mimicking her. Shannon also makes a pretty convincing Jones – the duo belting out tunes that sound remarkably like the originals in settings and with costuming and hairstyles that accurately capture the era. Their onscreen chemistry is undeniable. Kelly McCormack (A League of Their Own) also gives a standout performance in Episode 5, as Wynette’s bestie Sheila, who finds out her beloved friend has taken her husband George Richey, played by Steven Zahn. Abe Sylvia, who wrote the screenplay for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, also wrote the screenplay for George & Tammy.
The biggest criticism of the six-episode series is that the drinking and physical abuse during their six-year marriage start to feel monotonous after a few episodes and probably would have been better suited to a more condensed, film format – and at times the writing is a bit cartoonish. But the inclusion of their frequent recording and performing reunions over the subsequent 20 following years helps capture their complicated nature of their personal and professional relationship.
• Originally George & Tammy was going to be a movie starring Josh Brolin and Jessica Chastain and directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), but when it evolved into a series, Brolin and Taylor dropped out, replaced by Michael Shannon and director John Hillcoat.
• Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon also co-starred as a married couple in the 2011 psychological thriller Take Shelter.
• Tammy Wynette was 55 when she died in 1998. A year later, George Jones got sober for good, dying of respiratory failure in 2013 at age 81.
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