Dolly Parton's "Jolene" Comes to Life in Netflix's 'Heartstrings' (Spoilers!)


Apr. 2 2021, Updated 12:58 p.m. ET

dolly parton
Source: Netflix

Loyal Dolly Parton fans had this day marked on their calendars for quite some time now. If you’re wondering why, it’s because the country phenomenon just dropped her new Netflix anthology series, Dolly Parton’s HeartstringsMade up of eight episodes, the series consists of "stories celebrating family, faith, love and forgiveness," all of which are inspired by Dolly's songs.

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In the trailer, Dolly explained: "Songs — they're just stories put to music. Songs that I’ve written, they’re stories of my life — every triumph, every struggle, every smile, every sorrow. It’s the melody of my memories. It’s the sound of my heartstrings."

dolly partons heartstrings
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The country queen appears in several episodes alongside the star-studded cast, which includes Bellamy Young, Ginnifer Goodwin, Melissa Leo, Kathleen Turner, and Julianne Hough, who stars as the iconic "Jolene." Fans have taken a special interest in the latter, but it comes as no surprise, considering the story behind the popular song. 

What was real story behind "Jolene?"

Dolly took the name from a cute young fan who once asked her for her autograph, but the woman who inspired the song was also very real. There was a red-headed bank teller who constantly flirted with Dolly's husband, Carl Dean, shortly after they got married. However, nothing serious became of it. 

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dolly parton jolene album
Source: RCA Victor

She once explained: "She got this terrible crush on my husband. And he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention. It was kinda like a running joke between us — when I was saying, 'Hell, you're spending a lot of time at the bank. I don't believe we've got that kind of money.' So it's really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one."

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Is this the plot of the episode?

Not exactly. The official description says that it's a modern take on the tale, although Jolene is very much the same seductive beauty that we all know from the song. The main character that we meet is Emily, who feels threatened by Jolene's boldness and beauty. 

netflix jolene
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She feels even more panic and self-doubt when she learns that her husband, Aaron, is attracted to the seductress. However, she actually has the boldness to confront Jolene about how her actions are affecting her life and her marriage. She pleads: "I am asking you woman-to-woman, stay away please."

By the end of the episode, we learn that Emily's husband was actually considering having an affair with Jolene. But fortunately for both of them, Jolene decides to skip town and pursue her music career.

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netflix jolene julianne hough

Who's in the cast for this episode?

The infamous Jolene is played by Julianne. And Emily, the poor soul who almost lost her husband to Jolene, is played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Her husband, Aaron, is played by Dallas Roberts, and Dolly also makes an appearance as Babe, the owner of the bar where Jolene worked. 

Is "Jolene" connected to any of the other episodes?

Not quite. Since all of the episodes are based on completely different songs, each one is a standalone story consisting of completely different characters. 

You can enjoy seeing all the stories unfold on Dolly Parton's Heartstrings, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

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