Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings is an anthology series narrated by Dolly Parton that showcases the stories, memories, and inspirations behind her most beloved songs. The anthology is based around songs like “Jolene,” “Cracker Jack,” “These Old Bones,” and more. Each episode explores the emotional and relatable lyrics within Parton’s songs through a variety of stories about love, family, and friendship. Understandably, each episode varies from love stories to inspirational tales, to family dramas, westerns, and revenge comedies. Parton’s songs have lasted the test of time because of their relatability. The anthology tackles tough subject likes cheating, vulnerability, discrimination, and even being accepted as a gay man in a traditional family.
Each episode starts with an introduction by Dolly Parton who gives insight into the story about to be told and the song it is based on. Most of the stories featured are original, new stories except for the third episode, “If I Had Wings” which is an adaptation of As The Crow Flies, a screenplay also based on the song.
From the start of the season with “Jolene” to the more emotional episodes like “If I Had Wings” and “Down from Dover,” which explores Parton’s most controversial song of its time about an unwed teenage mother, Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings tugs at your, well heartstrings. As the season progresses the episodes get more emotional and by episode four, “Cracker Jack,” which tackles friendship, chronic illness, and even domestic violence, I was opening sobbing by the end of each episode.
However, Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings’ provides a cathartic cry reminding me of another Dolly Parton classic, Steel Magnolias, which happens to still be one of my favorite movies on the planet. The anthology has some stand out episodes including “Two Doors Down” which follows a family celebrating a daughter’s wedding while also keeping a variety of secrets from each other in fear of the disappointment from their overbearing mother. The episode features Dolly at the beginning voices her support for the LGBTQ community and also features a non-binary supporting character and a gay main character. While I myself am not gay, I do think the episode was handled well.
Another standout episode is “If I Had Wings.” The episode follows three siblings who meet their long-lost father after his new life-partner reached out to him for his birthday. However, he is extremely reluctant to see his children again, with the guilt of his departure from their lives racking at him.
Unfortunately, “Jolene,” while not a bad episode, did not have the emotional punch any of the other episodes did. Julianne Hough as Jolene was difficult to like. This was especially disappointing to me since it is my favorite song of Parton’s. Additionally, at times the show can be incredibly corny with characters saying lyrics as dialogue, which works well in some episodes but falls very flat in others, like “Jolene.” Additionally, a fair amount of the acting feels cheesy and could easily fit in a Nicholas Sparks movie or Hallmark film. But overall, the stories feel genuine with heartfelt messages that in the end are always uplifting.
Dolly Parton is an American icon and her music is as Americana as it gets. Growing up in Louisiana, Dolly Parton has always been a household name. Watching Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings feels like coming home. It’s warm, familiar, and reminds you of what is truly important. For fans of Parton, this is a much-watch and for anyone needing a good cry, I highly recommend grabbing a glass of red wine, curling up with a warm blanket, and hitting play.
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings is streaming now on Netflix
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings
- Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings - 8/108/10
For fans of Parton, this is a much-watch and for anyone needing a good cry, I highly recommend grabbing a glass of red wine, curling up with a warm blanket, and hitting play.