George & Tammy TV Review

Last Updated on December 1, 2022

Plot: The six-part limited series GEORGE & TAMMY chronicles the country music power couple, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, whose complicated-but-enduring relationship inspired some of the most iconic music of all time.

Review: In the annals of country music, there are few names that are as iconic as George Jones and Tammy Wynette. While Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn get the big screen treatment in Oscar-worthy biopics, the surge in limited series programming across streaming platforms has provided a new medium to tell complex stories about artists whose lives cannot be condensed into a two-hour movie. George & Tammy benefits and is shackled to the mini-series format in a well-made series with top-notch leading performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain as two of the most famous and tragic musicians in the history of country music. A series designed for aficionados and country novices alike, there is quite a bit to appreciate in this series beyond the legendary music recreated by the two lead actors.

George & Tammy,Showtime,Jessica Chastain,Michael Shannon

Created by Abe Sylvia (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), George & Tammy has a ton of material worthy of inclusion in this series from the well-publicized lives of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Based on the memoir by Georgette Jones, the daughter of the main characters, George & Tammy opens with George Jones (Michael Shannon) in a downward spiral of addiction that garnered him the nickname “No Show” Jones on account of how many performances he was too drunk to appear for. He meets hairdresser and aspiring singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette (Jessica Chastain), then married to struggling musician Don Chapel (Pat Healy). George and Tammy instantly forge an attraction fueled by Tammy’s desire to succeed in Nashville and beyond. The introduction of these two takes up the bulk of the first episode of the series and from there the series thrives before it unravels as quickly as the lives of the series subject.

The first half of the series chronicles the union of Jones and Wynette as their love reinvigorates George and gives him a second wind in his career while thrusting Tammy into the spotlight of country music celebrity. For a time, their chemistry is a blessing that soon unfolds as both singers succumb to addiction. The chemistry between the two singers is aided by the same palpable connection between Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, reunited on-screen for the first time since their stellar work in Jeff Nichols’ 2011 thriller Take Shelter. Both Shannon and Chastain do their own singing here which adds a layer of authenticity lacking in biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody and Walk the Line. Shannon affords himself well as he adopts George Jones’ signature vocal stylings but Chastain doesn’t quite match the strength of Tammy Wynette. Despite that, both actors do a fantastic job on the microphone as well as off.

The series also has a solid retinue of actors in supporting roles including Steve Zahn as George Richey and Walton Goggins as Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery. The focus is squarely on Shannon and Chastain, though, as they reenact some of the most shocking and contentious moments from the lives of Jones and Wynette. There are a lot of sequences in this series that are hard to watch whether they be medical procedures or heated fights between various characters. If there are any shortcomings in this series, it may be that it comes so quickly on the heels of Chastain’s Oscar-winning The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a performance which echoes quite a bit with her role as this Tammy. Both Tammy Faye Bakker and Wynette suffered greatly in their lives but in very different ways, but seeing both stories told successively slightly lessens Chastain’s performances as being someone derivative of one another. This is a shame as Chastain is so good in both roles and they deserve to be viewed on their own merit.

There is so much that happens in the first half of the season that it is confusing as to why it feels so rushed in the second. With six episodes to work with, it should be more than enough time to chronicle the major moments in George and Tammy’s relationship, but director John Hillcoat (Lawless, The Road) seems to be rushing to include things in the last two episodes like Wynette’s abusive relationship with Richey and her exponentially worsening health, that could have filled additional hours on their own. Moments that are emotional gut punches in the early episodes give way to glossed-over moments in the later chapters and this somewhat lessens the power of George & Tammy as both a life story and as a cautionary tale. This unevenness in the story is the biggest issue I had with George & Tammy and it lessens what is otherwise a showcase for Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain’s strength as actors.

George & Tammy,Showtime,Jessica Chastain,Michael Shannon

George & Tammy is a well-acted and directed series that uses the space provided by a limited series to tell a more involved story about the tragic fall of a marriage as well as the burdens of fame and addiction. Whether you are a country music fan or not, there is a lot to appreciate in this story but it still feels like a missed opportunity to showcase why George Jones and Tammy Wynette are so legendary as performers. While starting strong, George & Tammy could have used two more hours to wrap up this story. On the strength of John Hillcoat’s direction and the exceptional performances of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, this series more than deserves to be watched and appreciated while introducing a whole new generation to these musical artists.

George & Tammy premieres on December 4th on Showtime and Paramount Network.


About the Author

5931 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.