AndersonVision Best TV of 2017: #6 – Tales from the Tourbus (Cinemax)


“Tales from the Tourbus” scratched so many itches for me. While I’m not a Cinemax fan, this feels like their first effort to carve out an identity. If HBO is going to stay in the big dramatic productions and trade in comedy specials, then go this route. Make long-form animation and documentary series about cult followings. But, is classic country considered cult? Well, yeah.

Mike Judge worked with a variety of country acts on “King of the Hill”. Hell, he makes an effort to explain how he prodded Tammy Wynette for stories when she initially played Hank Hill’s mom. What he didn’t realize was the world he was about to step into with Tammy’s contemporaries. This was the first series in 2017 that I got to double-down enjoy with my wife, as she lived way closer to Nashville when many of these stories went down.

George Jones riding the horse to the bar, getting the DUI on the lawnmower and various other tidbits used to be news fodder throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. If you didn’t live in the lower Midwest or the South, you missed out on it. The Austin country scene gets some love in the later episodes, but it lacks focus. When this series busts open the Tennessee scene from the 1950s – 1980s, it finds something to say.

For the longest time, if you weren’t rock or rap…your story didn’t get told. A lot of that had to do with the kitsch attached to Country and its ever-pressing desire to protect its public identity. While those that deep dive into country history know better, it shouldn’t surprise that most don’t dig that deep into country’s roots. A lot of these guys were either going to be coke dealers or broken-hearted bums if they didn’t make it in Nashville. Hell, the Nashville scene might have extended the lives of quite a few people.

It’s rare to see country music treated with the grime it deserves. Now, it’s not as dirty as a real biopic on Marvin Gaye would be, but it strips away the Public Image. Hopefully, Mike Judge comes back swinging with a second season. His deadpan narration walks all audiences through what’s going down here. Freaks flock to the music scene regardless of geography. Now, sit back and learn about them.


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