Three childhood friends, a close-knit community, one beautiful Southern town of Serenity with pretty houses and prettier flowers -– welcome to the world of Sweet Magnolias, the latest book adaptation on Netflix.
It’s sweet and full of Magnolias.
Nearly every scene in the show has blooming white or pink or red Magnolias, either in the background or foreground. The sweetness of its characters borders on sugar syrup while the darkest character on the show is an angry teenager upset with her controlling mother.
There is nothing earth-shattering happening in this pastel-colored town of Serenity, South Carolina, except gossip galore. Cheating husbands, messy divorces, runaway girls, angry teens, love triangles, belligerent employees. It’s your regular small-town charms oozing through this story centered on three women, who’ve known each other since their pig tail days and are now opening a women-only spa as a tribute to their beloved town.
JoAnna Garcia Swisher plays Maddie, a marketing major and mother of three, going through a messy (and very public) divorce. Her husband Bill (Chris Klein) and his now-pregnant girlfriend Noreen (Jamie-Lynn Spears) also live in the same town.
Heather Headley is the sharp but sweet lawyer Helen, who ran away to the wild west as a twenty-something only to find her way back home to her two BFFs. Finally, Brooke Elliott is playing the ambitious chef and single mom, Dana Sue, who kicks out her husband for cheating on her.
There are some strong female characters, both young and old, in this series adapted from Sherryl Woods’ novel series of the same name.
Meanwhile, the adaptation, headlined by Sheryl Anderson, carries the spirit with a woman pastor, artist, local paper editor, lawyer, etc. There are some wonderful male characters too. (However, the contractor is still a man, that too black. While the doctor is still a white male.)
However, the absence of any wild or out of the world plot twists is not why Sweet Magnolias missed its mark for me. I absolutely loved Lady Bird and its profound portrayal of just another year in a fairly well to do Californian family.
Zoomed in or out, the nuance with which characters and their stories are handled does the trick for me. With Sweet Magnolias, the nuances are just too perfect and borderline cliché.
The characters are too perfect, too chic and too coiffed even at the hospital or after an attack by a drunk man. Where is the raw truth…probably hidden beneath the beautiful magnolia trees.
Anyway, I still confess to having binged the whole season in one go. It’s a beautiful production to watch, and you kind of keep hoping for the plot to surprise you until you realize the season has already ended.
Since it is lockdown season, I would say Sweet Magnolias is a one time stream with its nostalgic Southern setting and homey feels. However, I wouldn’t rewatch it until I am stuck away from home in yet another lockdown, which could be next year or next decade, who knows.Originally Written By Epic Dope