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Dolly Parton's Heartstrings

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Dolly Parton's Heartstrings TV Poster Image
Compelling dramatic tales bring iconic song lyrics to life.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The stories always promote positive themes about family, faith, and forgiveness, but in doing so, they often portray scenarios that show characters being selfish or dishonest before a change of heart. Some racial and gender roles reflect the norms of the eras in which the stories are set; in other stories, characters challenge those stereotypes with meaningful results. Name-calling like "whore" and "hussy." Characters' willingness to change instigates positive growth in their lives. Faith also plays an important role in many of the characters' lives.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

A mixed bag, as the stories often center on a person or people who need self-reflection and a change of heart to right wrongs and move toward a better future. Generally, though, they come around to choosing the right path and making positive changes.

 

Violence

Some use of guns in historical context, as when a woman uses a rifle to scare away unwelcome visitors. Mention of rape along with flashback scenes that hint at the attack but obscure most of what's seen.

 

Sex

Heavily dependent on the story. In some cases, couples are shown under the covers in bed and presumed to have just had sex. A man hits on a woman and forces her toward a bathroom before a friend steps in to help. Talk of nymphomania and sexually transmitted diseases. Marital infidelity and rape are addressed.

 

Language

Varies widely depending on the episode, but in some cases, words like "ass," "a--hole," "damn," "dammit," "hell," "bulls--t ," "suck," and some body-related slang like "titties" and "knockers."

 

Consumerism

The series is inspired by several of Dolly Parton's songs, which provide the soundtrack for the episodes.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink with meals and socially.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dolly Parton's Heartstrings is an anthological series with a different story in each episode, making it difficult to predict what the content might be from one to the next. Some episodes deal with decidedly mature issues like rape and marital infidelity, but always in insightful ways with ultimately positive and heartwarming messages. Likewise, the use of strong language ("damn," "dammit," "a--hole," "titties," etc.) varies from one episode to the next, and violent content, firearm use, stereotypes, and gender roles change to reflect historical and societal norms of the respective settings. The stories are inspired by the lyrics of several of Dolly Parton's most famous songs but often approach the telling in unexpected and original ways. An all-star cast and exceptional writing, plus the recurring presence of Dolly herself onscreen, help make this series truly compelling drama. 

 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySeriousDad December 5, 2019

Disappointing

Contains profanity and lots of talk about sex. Makes light of casual sex and loose women (and men). The “12 and up” rating is just wrong. I’m glad my 15 year... Continue reading
Adult Written byBabykress November 25, 2019
Kid, 12 years old November 25, 2019

NO YOUNGER THAN 13!!!

I would definitely say this should not be watched by anybody younger than 13. Maybe a mature 12 year old but it is definitely raunchy.

What's the story?

The stories in DOLLY PARTON'S HEARTSTRINGS are inspired by the lyrics in several of the country musician's iconic songs, including "Jolene," "These Old Bones," and "If I Could Fly." The tales span different time periods and in some cases, center on characters loosely based on acquaintances from Parton's own life experiences, but themes of forgiveness, love, faith, family, and hope mark all of them. The cast changes with each story, counting among its stars the likes of Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Kathleen Turner, Delta Burke, Camryn Manheim, and Dolly Parton herself.

Is it any good?

Compelling and dramatic, this series will reach far beyond the country music fan pool for its audience. The stories are wonderfully written and expertly acted, and despite their roots in the words of well-known songs, they never feel formulaic. Often the plots veer from the expected while still staying true to the prominent themes. What's more, even though Parton introduces each episode herself and acts in several, you never get the sense that the show is an advertising tool. Even the songs that inspire the stories themselves serve to complement rather than to overwhelm the content. 

Dolly Parton's Heartstrings is wholesome, heartfelt -- and yes, sometimes soapy -- entertainment, but because each story is so unique, it's difficult to predict the issues that might arise as it evolves. Where one episode brims with mostly family friendly content and themes of respect, honesty, and compassion, another delves into more mature subjects like marital infidelity and sympathizes to some degree with "the other woman." As such, if you're hoping to watch with your tweens, be sure to preview the episodes to select those that are most appropriate for general family viewing and save the others for grown-up TV time. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Dolly Parton's Heartstrings presents family relationships. Is the drama that exists between family members in these stories believable? Does it for make appealing, relatable stories? Do the characters experience realistic changes of heart? Does entertainment always have to be applicable to our lives to be compelling?

  • What instances of forgiveness stand out to you in this series? How do the characters demonstrate compassion for each other even when differences threaten their relationships? What other strong qualities do you notice in the characters?

  • Does this show's unique format that uses songs to inspire the stories work well? Are some episodes more successful than others? Were you familiar with Dolly Parton's music before watching? Are you any more or less inclined to seek it out after seeing the series?

TV details

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