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‘Sweet Magnolias’ Review: A Predictable Yet Feel-Good Hallmark-ish Drama

A perfect dose of all those warm fuzzy feelings!

Ever wondered why you like all those predictably mushy Hallmark movies? They all have the same formula- an attractive, rich white woman, with an amazing career, is vaguely dissatisfied and finds a small town to “experience” life. There she meets a simple, hunky man, who is conveniently single- they fall in love and she settles down and produces three kids. But despite the exhaustive premise and predictable happily-ever-after ending, we still love’ em ‘cause it feels good and makes us happy! Well, with Sweet Magnolias one can set aside the complaint of why doesn’t Netflix serve such Hallmark-ish candies. 

There is no denying the abundance of cliches Sweet Magnolias sticks too but it is also a feel-good series, with its representation of a small, happy town, its charming southern flair, family drama, and finding comfort in friendship. 

Based on the book series, The Sweet Magnolias, by author Sherryl Woods, the story unfolds in a South Carolina town called Serenity. But while it may not have the shrewd murder mystery of Dead To Me or the frenzied action sequence like Extraction, the story has its own dramas, cropping up from the on-the-surface-simple lives of the town’s inhabitants. 

But the focus of the story are Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliott), and Helen Decatur (Heather Headley). Maddie is going through a major life crisis after her messy divorce from Bill (Chris Klein), who got his nurse, Noreen (Jamie Lynn Spears), pregnant and left his family to start a new one with her. 

And it’s not just Maddie the separation affected- her kids, Tyler (Carson Rowland), Kyle (Logan Allen), and Katie (Bianca Berry Tarantino) felt it too.

While she finds support in her school-time besties- Helen and Dana, they are struggling with issues of their own. Helen, a talented lawyer, has led a life of singlehood and is now wondering whether it is time to have her own family, only to realize that her dream comes true in the most unexpected way.

Dana Sue, a single mother after her divorce, is a perfection-driven woman as she handles her restaurant but while she is striving for perfection and well, firing her sous chef who turns out to be one vengeful backstabber, she is, unknowingly, distancing herself from her daughter, Annie. 

Meanwhile, Tyler is having trouble concentrating on baseball after the divorce of his parents, Annie loves the oblivious Tyler, and his brother Kyle is head-over-heels in love with Annie. 

In this usual love triangle, Maddie’s attraction to Tyler’s coach, Cal Maddox, complicates things further.

It’s amidst this chaos, that the best friends decide to start their own business and open a spa together- a dream they have had for years. 

You may find it to be a rather simple story, borderline cheesy even, nothing that you haven’t seen before. We agree Sweet Magnolias is so not a cup of tea for those seeking mystical plots, twists, and challenges- it is pretty straightforward, picture-perfect, (which, at times, will feel irritating and result in an involuntary exasperated eye roll) but it remains mindful of the thin line that separates simple from boring and dull. It relishes in its simplicity with a strong cast and ensures that within its bubble of love and friendship you find the distraction from the real world you seek. 

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