I have to say, the first episode of the new Showtime series George & Tammyhooked me immediately.
Starring Michael Shannon as George Jones, with Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain as Tammy Wynette, the six-part miniseries chronicles the tumultuous relationship one country music’s most iconic power couples.
And right from the get-go we have a drunk Possum flushing money down the toilet, shooting holes in his tour bus and confessing his love for Tammy after he flipped over her dining room table because her husband (at the time) Don Chapel called her a “son of a bitch.”
It’s country music, history, and whole mess of drama all wrapped into one incredible, true story.
And so far, the story seems to stick pretty close to the history. The script was based on the book, The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George, which was written by the couple’s daughter, Georgette Jones.
Michael Shannon is fantastic, and Jessica Chastain proves once more why she’s an Oscar winner… just phenomenal.
But according to a new interview with The Guardian,her motivation for finally taking the role was about repairing Tammy’s legacy… with feminists.
Hits like “Stand By Your Man” and “Run, Woman, Run” have long drawn criticism as being anti-feminist, and “Stand By Your Man” was even famously mocked by Hilary Clinton in 1992 during an interview with 60 Minutes:
“I’m not sitting here as some little woman ‘standing by my man’ like Tammy Wynette.”
“Run, Woman, Run” on the other hand, was written by Ann Booth, Duke Goff and Dan Hoffman, and recorded by Tammy for her 1970 album The First Lady.
And while Chastain says she’s a Tammy fan, and hoping to shed some light on the idea that Tammy’s music was anti-feminist, that doesn’t mean that she can get behind the message of some of Tammy’s biggest songs.
When Chastain was performing “Run, Woman, Run” for the show, she felt like she needed to provide a disclaimer for the all the extras on set with her:
“I looked out at all these sweet, young faces staring up at me and said, ‘Girls: I do not want you to listen to the lyrics of this song.
Please. I love Tammy, but she did not believe this. She was married five times, so do not take any of this as gospel.’”
But that also doesn’t mean she thinks of Tammy Wynette as someone who was walked all over. She contrasts Tammy’s music and personal life with another country music icon… Loretta Lynn.
“You look at someone like Loretta Lynn, who I love, I love ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ and she was married to the same man her whole life and was what people really needed women to be at the time, so she got to sing about all these progressive things.
And she could do that because she was accepted for who she was: a nice woman married to her husband for a long time.
But Tammy Wynette was from a broken home, had multiple marriages, and there was something so unsavory about that, that she had to sing about stand-by-your-man.”
Of course, Loretta’s own marriage issues were well documented, as her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn was an alcoholic who could also be violent and unfaithful. And yet, Loretta Lynn, who is often praised for her pro-feminist songs like “The Pill,” “Rated X,” and more, perhaps embodied the spirit of “Stand By Your Man” more than Tammy Wynette even did.
But either way, Chastain doesn’t rush to judgement or blame, especially for someone like Tammy… who was trying to succeed in an industry dominated by men:
“I will never be angry at a woman for having to do what she had to do to support herself and survive, because she’s playing by different rules than the men.”