Dolly Parton's 'Heartstrings' anthology series debuts today on Netflix

J. H. Osborne • Nov 22, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Dolly Parton’s “Heartstrings” series debuts today on Netflix. Mom and I don’t have Netflix. But we did attend the red carpet premiere hosted at Dollywood a few weeks ago. Based on the episode we saw, we might have to subscribe to Netflix, especially since I’ve heard a rumor there might be a season two in the works.

This was our second red carpet premiere event at Dollywood. But that didn’t diminish our excitement and anticipation as we waited with dozens of other media folks just behind the red velvet rope. Multiple actors who appear in the series attended and walked the red carpet leading to the park’s Showstreet Palace Theater. So did a lot of Dolly’s kin, local dignitaries and officials with the Dollywood Company and Netflix.

But the main attraction (and finale) on the red carpet was Parton, who didn’t disappoint, wearing a sparkling, flesh-toned dress; spike-heeled, open-heel, open-toe  slides; and bright pink nails.Shortly after Parton took her last question from reporters,  everyone went inside the theater for the “sneak peek.”

The episode shown was “Jolene.” If you’re familiar with the backstory of how Parton came to write the song, you’ll only get a glimpse of the character’s roots. Jolene is first seen as a bank teller, but she’s fired for flirting with male customers early in the plot. That shifts the focus to her night job, singing in a roadhouse on the outskirts of town. Parton plays the owner of the roadhouse and is something of a mother figure to Jolene.

I’d describe “Jolene” as a slightly edgier version of a Hallmark-type movie. 

Parton appears in the series as well as being a singer/songwriter and executive producer. The eight one-hour episodes tell stories that celebrate family, faith, forgiveness and more, each inspired by her iconic country music catalog.

Promotional materials say this: “The Dolly music you love, the stories you’ve been waiting for. Dolly Parton’s ‘Heartstrings’ is an anthology series that showcases the stories, memories and inspirations behind her most beloved songs. New and classic Dolly music will score every episode. Each story will vary in tone, from love stories and inspirational tales to family dramas, westerns and revenge comedies.”

 "As a songwriter, I have always enjoyed telling stories through my music,” Parton said in a statement released earlier this year. “I am thrilled to be bringing some of my favorite songs to life with Netflix. We hope our show will inspire and entertain families and folks of all generations, and I want to thank the good folks at Netflix and Warner Bros. TV for their incredible support."

Netflix described “Jolene” as “the story of an unexpected friendship between two very different women who find themselves part of the iconic love triangle, ultimately impacting each other’s lives in profound ways.”

Other Episodes

• “These Old Bones.” A big-city lawyer comes home to Tennessee to convince an alleged “witch” (Old Bones) to sell her land to a mining company. She wrestles with her past and the future of the town.

• “If I Had Wings.” After receiving invitations to the 70th birthday party of their decades-long estranged father, three disparate siblings converge on a Mississippi farm where they test the bonds of blood and issues of faith, all to confront the sins of their father.

• “JJ Sneed,” starring Colin O’Donoghue, Willa Fitzgerald, David Denman, Mac Davis and Vanessa Rubio. In the 1880s, a feisty young woman trapped in a mundane existence dreams of more, until a seductive outlaw pulls her into the adventure of a lifetime.

• “Cracker Jack.” Two stories — one past, one present — about the power of unconditional love between a girl and her dog, and that same girl, now grown, who questions what her life means and who she can truly count on when faced with her greatest fear.

• “Sugar Hill.” A married couple in their twilight embarks on a road trip back to the place where they first fell in love, along the way revisiting the history of their love story.

• “Down From Dover.” After being shunned by her pious widowed father, a pregnant teenager finds support at a home for unwed mothers, where she hopes for the safe return of the young man she loves from the Vietnam War.

• “Two Doors Down.” A family’s lifetime of secrets comes bursting out during a chaotic and comedic New Year’s Eve wedding weekend. Will they make it to witness the “I do’s” without killing one another?

J.H. Osborne covers Sullivan County government for the Times News. Email him at josborne@timesnews.net.