Yet their analysis falls short because the film is so heavily sympathetic to Tammy. Their basic message is: "Tammy's not so bad! Look, even while she and Jim Bakker were manipulating people into sending them their very last dollar--so Tammy and Jim could buy drugs and strippers--Tammy still had good intentions!" And while it does appear that Tammy has endured much while remaining incredibly optimistic (she survived cancer, saw two husbands go to jail, got a divorce, watched her daughter run away, lost her billion-dollar empire, and went through drug rehab) hasn't everyone suffered hardships? The film misses what is truly unique about Tammy: What produces a woman who is only happy when she has cameras in her living room--broadcasting to 2 million people all over the nation--24 hours a day?
What is perhaps an even more compelling question, is why is television evangelism so seductive in and of itself? How can millions of people let themselves become so beguiled by such flimsy rhetoric, and what about Tammy Faye in particular made her the queen of television evangelism? At times, Barbato and Bailey touch on these questions: They highlight the fact that Tammy and Jim were inherently entertainers, making PTL more akin to todays's Survivor and Big Brother than any real religious rhetoric. That is, Tammy is a drama queen; she cried daily on air, talked about her kids, her marriage, and her greatest love: Jesus. Tammy Faye is a kind of soap opera all bottled up in one woman.
And though the film accidently echoes this point, the primary angle covers the whole film with a kind of syrupy-sweet fog, one that tries to sway the viewer fall in love with Tammy, rather than study her as the American phenomena that she is.