Jessica Chastain is not just beautiful, talented, and charismatic. She is an actress who builds lasting relationships with her on-screen partners, including the equally brilliant Michael Shannon. The two starred in the suffocating and excellent Take Shelter, in 2011 and repeat the undeniable chemistry between them in the Paramount Plus series, George and Tammy. That’s right if in 2021 her performance as Tammy Faye earned her an Oscar as Best Actress, the series in which she plays singer Tammy Wynette could mean an Emmy in 2023. And an Emmy too for Michael, who plays American country singer George Jones.
For those who don’t follow the country genre and are younger, maybe they don’t understand the relevance of the names of the duo considered legendary in the United States, but they certainly sang Stand By Your Man one day. know that Tammy wrote this song for George. We’ll get there.
Tammy Wynette is so famous that she became known as “the first lady of country music”, breaking taboos by bringing a female vision to a male universe and becoming one of the most influential voices in American music, especially with the song Stand By Your Man. But it is precisely this song that is a weak point in her story, as the lyrics – submissive to men – were considered offensive by the feminist movement, which was gaining steam at the time.
Tammy, alongside Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, formed an ultra-famous trio that recorded together and broke sales records. Her brief but important marriage to George Jones was significant to her success. George, considered a legend, was as famous as Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. His tumultuous union with Tammy made their marriage a big deal and that’s what the miniseries portrays, using as a basis the account of their daughter Georgette Jones‘s autobiography, The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George.
To play Tammy and George, both Jessica and Michael had to sing. For him, who is a musician, it is not surprising, but the actress is surprised by her voice. Actor Steve Zahn (The White Lotus) plays Tammy Wynette’s fifth and final husband, George Richey.
As always, Michael Shannon puts on a show as the violent drunk who falls for upstart Tammy, helping her rise professionally while dealing with her demons, bringing empathy to the singer’s emotional swings. Something not very surprising since the actor specializes in giving life to troubled but vulnerable men. We soon see that Tammy, not far behind, becomes addicted to the painkillers that relieve her pain after an unsuccessful hysterectomy. In this universe of pain, there is love and music, but also aggression and a lot of drama, with perfect chemistry between the actors. Because George and Tammy are gods, there’s a reverence that doesn’t connect with a foreign audience the way an American one does, but it still has quality. It’s quickly obvious that what happened between them, while powerful, has no future, but we’re rooting for it anyway.
As he did with The Eyes of Tammy Faye, screenwriter Abe Sylvia tries not to romanticize what happened between them, which quickly becomes codependency. When they’re together, they look into each other’s eyes as if no one else is around and it’s completely believable to see their mutual passion. The series, of course, leaves Tammy in a better light than her partners, alleviating her own flaws, such as having an affair with her best friend’s husband and being abused by everyone. By the time Tammy writes Stand by Your Man, life with George is a roller coaster ride, but we want to ride along.
George & Tammy repeat the formulas of the bio series, but with passionate performances by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain that are worth every minute. Bring on the Emmys!