Arts & Culture

Southern Streaming: Muppet Man, Memphis Soul, and Pitmaster Pat Martin

May’s standout series and movies with Southern ties

A man paints Mr. Kermit the Frog.

Photo: Disney+

Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog.

We’ve got Kermit the Frog, we’ve got Alabama white sauce, we’ve got a native Texan holding the Beatles together long enough to lay down Let It Be … c’mon into this month’s Southern Streaming!

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Behind the Muppets

Jim Henson: Idea Man, Disney+

Did you know that Muppet master Jim Henson was from Greenville, Mississippi? It’s true! The swamps of nearby Leland even inspired one Mr. Kermit the Frog. For everything else Henson comes this new documentary on May 31 from none other than director Ron Howard, featuring, says Disney+, “never-before-seen personal archival home movies, photographs, sketches, and Henson’s personal diaries, as well as interviews with those who knew him best.” Please say that includes Miss Piggy! 

I’ll Take You There

STAX: Soulsville U.S.A., Max

photo: courtesy of hbo

Stax Records created and defined Southern soul music, nurturing the likes of Otis Redding, dynamite house band Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Sam & Dave, the Bar-Kays, William Bell, the Staple Singers!!! Don’t make me go on because I completely can. Or, you can just watch this tantalizing, four-part docuseries on the legendary Memphis label when it drops May 20.

You Bet Your (Boston) Butt We’re Watching

Life of Fire, Outdoor Channel (via Hulu Live et al.)

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee
Pat Martin.

It’s no secret we’re big fans here at G&G of the Tennessee pitmaster and restaurateur Pat Martin, of Martin’s Bar-B-Que. Starting May 6, Martin will be hosting ten episodes of this look at the “old methods” of barbecue and those practicing it across the country, including G&G favorites such as Joseph Lenn, Trevor Stockton, Big Bob Gibson’s Chris Lilly, Bryan Furman, and Howard Conyers.

Lone Star Serial Killer

Pillowcase Murders, Paramount+

photo: CBS/Paramount+.
MJ Jennings, the daughter of victim Leah Corken.

To put it delicately, people dying at senior living communities may not typically raise an eyebrow, which may be how Billy Chemirmir got away with killing a suspected two-dozen-plus elderly men and women over the course of two years, smothering them before stealing their possessions. This three-episode docuseries, out May 14, will take a closer look at how it all happened, and why it took so long for Chemirmir to be discovered and convicted. 

…Or a Man Half Empty?

A Man in Full, Netflix

photo: Courtesy of Netflix
Jeff Daniels as Charlie Croker in A Man in Full.

For more than a year, I’ve had this note on my top-secret, highly encrypted “Southern Streaming Ideas” Excel spreadsheet: “A Man in Full on Netflix … but when???” Maybe there’s a reason it took so long for the streamer’s six-episode adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1998 novel about crooked Georgia real estate mogul Charlie Croker to quietly hit screens: Reviews have been less than Hot-lanta (sorry, sorry, forgive me, sorry). I’ll still probably watch Jeff Daniels squirm as Croker, but perhaps our time might be better spent reading Atlanta magazine’s fun 2015 dive into which Buckhead bigwigs may have inspired Wolfe.

The Fall of the House of Von Erich

The Iron Claw, Max

photo: Brian Roedel
Zac Efron (right) as Kevin Von Erich in The Iron Claw.

Were the Von Erich family of wrestlers cursed? Former teen heartthrob Zac Efron and current The Bear star Jeremy Allen White beefed up and took to the mat in The Iron Claw, streaming May 10, to tell the story of the Texas brothers’ lives and deaths—one also carefully shared by John Spong in this 2005 Texas Monthly story

The Fifth Beatle Was…Southern???

Let It Be, Disney+

In director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s documentary Let It Be, and at that May 1970 fated rooftop concert, he sure was: Texas keys magician Billy Preston helped hold the breaking-apart Beatles together so they could finish the album. You can see it all on May 31, when Disney+ releases the film publicly for the first time in fifty years. In the 2000 book The Beatles Anthology, George Harrison recalled that when Preston showed up, “straight away there was 100 percent improvement in the vibe in the room. Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we’d created among ourselves.” That, and the pianoman can really lay it down.