To paraphrase a Dolly Parton song and Netflix’s subscription strategy: “Islands in the streaming, that is what we are.” And how can Netflix be wrong, when they’re making such visionary decisions as signing Dolly Parton to a multi-project development deal? First there was the 2018 YA adaptation Dumplin’, which rendered its Dolly Parton fandom diegetic. And now, we finally have the first official trailer for the upcoming Dolly Parton–produced anthology series, Heartstrings, which will have eight one-hour standalone episodes, each based on “the stories, memories, and inspirations behind her most beloved songs.” Heartstrings is a sweet enough name, although it’s a shame that Netflix is referring to the show as “Eight Dolly stories” rather than an “an-Dolly-gy series.” But that’s neither here nor there. Netflix states that “each story will vary in tone, from love stories and inspirational tales to family dramas, westerns, and revenge comedies,” which makes the whole thing sound like a Dollywood version of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. In a good way!
There’s so much to look forward to based on this trailer, alone. For one, it looks as though Dolly Parton will introduce each episode in a warm and cozy direct-to-camera address, like the Crypt Keeper, or “Monsterpiece Theater.” And then there’s the episodes, each based on a different song, because songs “are just stories put to music.” There’s “These Old Bones,” which stars Kathleen Turner as “Miss Mary Shaw aka Old Bones,” and the chronically under-used Ginnifer Goodwin. There’s “If I Had Wings,” with Delta Burke. There’s “Two Doors Down,” starring Melissa Leo as “Amelia Meegers,” and of course there’s Julianne Hough as the titular Jolene in “Jolene.” Parton herself will act in that one, as a mentor figure at a bar known only for now as “Babe.”
It’s a flex on Netflix’s part to release their own romantic anthology series one month after Amazon Prime’s middling stab at the micro-genre with Modern Love, and its November 22 release date is ideal timing for a nice family watch party when Nana comes over for Thanksgiving.