I don’t know what it is about small towns, but when it comes to a TV show, they have a way of capturing your heart.
Maybe it’s the small community filled with gossiping women who are all up in your business that opens you with welcome arms, but I find myself gravitating to shows whose quaint towns are just as much of a character as the cast itself.
At the center of most of these shows is usually a resilient woman rising from the ashes following some life-altering situation. She tends to find support from the community, who embraces her and lends a helping hand, and despite a few stumbles, she never fully falls on her face because she’s always swooped up (metaphorically, there are no superheroes in these shows) by a handsome, buff man who is ready to show her the world… when she’s ready, of course.
It’s not exactly how reality works — one could argue it’s the furthest thing from it — but the promise of things working out and the “happily ever after” is how we want life to work, so we get pulled in. Aside from hope, we all connect with the themes of togetherness, heartbreak, and friendship.
Both Sweet Magnolias and Virgin River — both based on novels of the same name — possess that classic Hallmark charm, and despite straying ever-so-slightly from the predictable formula, the question of “will they or won’t they” when it comes to a grand love is there at the forefront.
On Sweet Magnolias, Maddie (JoAnn Garcia) is mom-of-three trying to pick up the pieces following a divorce that the whole town is aware of. Why? Because her husband, the town doctor, cheater on her with his nurse, who is now pregnant, and since he’s such a stand-up guy, he’s decided to commit himself to her and “do the right thing.”
Maddie leans on her two besties, Dana Sue, a chef and restaurant owner, and Helen Decatur, a lawyer, and they all decide that there’s never been a better time to pursue their childhood dream of owning a spa.
As Maddie’s career begins to fall into place, she also strikes up a romance with her son’s baseball coach, Cal Maddox, and just when she’s reaching peak happiness, her ex-husband pleads that they “give things another try” after his pregnant fiancee leaves him. We won’t spoil the end, but there’s a dramatic twist that underscores Netflix’s desire to take a formula and infuse it with new life.
If you’ve binge-watched Sweet Magnolias and found yourself craving some more small-town action, look no further than Virgin River. Netflix is making sure you never run out of feel-good dramas with character again!
Virgin River got love, but not nearly as much as Sweet Magnolias, and I fully blame that on the terrible promo that pops up when you first cue up Netflix.
The teaser played numerous times for me, but I kept ignoring the show because the little snippet didn’t sell me on it whatsoever.
To be fair, I should’ve listened to the Netflix algorithm (that knows me better than I know myself, apparently), and the fact that I’m a huge fan of Alexandra Breckenridge, who you may recognize as Sophie, Kevin’s true love on This Is Us.
Eventually, I was convinced to give Virgin River a shot after two of my friends gave it glowing reviews. “Fine, I’ll watch it,” is literally what I texted back as I reluctantly pressed play.
And boy, I’m glad I did. Have I mentioned the promo doesn’t do the series justice?
There’s nothing Hallmark-style cheesy about Virgin River, a Northern California town that seems to have a population of 20. Breckneridge’s Mel Monroe, a nurse practitioner, leaves cushy LA after accepting a job working for the local doctor, Vernon, who is less-than-thrilled to find out that his meddling wife and town Mayor, Hope, orchestrated the whole thing.
Doc doesn’t think “Ms. Hollywood” is cut out for the job, but as Mel gets her bearings, she proves to Doc that she’s exactly what this town needs. She also begins a kindred friendship with local bar owner, Jack Sheridan. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like these two will have anything in common, but they’re both burdened by the mistakes of their past and need each other to move forward. The characters are nuanced and realistically navigate a wide-range of emotions that come with falling in love with a person that’s not emotionally available.
Mel is a likable protagonist just like many of those that have come before her, but there’s nothing predictable about her adventures in Virgin River. The level of unpredictability mimics the uncertainty of life — you simply never know where it’ll take you, but that’s the beauty of it. And the moments, despite heartbreaking at times, are beautiful, scary, and exciting.
It’s a show about love, loss, family and found family, and getting a fresh start in a place that you’d least expect.
And if that’s not enough to convince you, just watch for the incredible scenery.
According to What’s on Netflix, season 2 was set to premiere this summer but with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been pushed likely to September or October 2020 at the earliest. The site also reports season 3 has been given the green light, so use this time wisely to catch up and binge the series!
‘Sweet Magnolia’s Scores Third Season Renewal, Joanne Garcia Swisher Celebrates on Instagram
The magnolias are blooming at Netflix.
The series, based on Sheryl Woods’ book series, focuses on three vibrant best friends — Helen Decatur, Dana Sue, and Maddie Townsend — as they navigate life, love, heartache, careers, and more in the small-town of Serenity.
Season 2 premiered in February and dropped plenty more drama onto the ladies’ plates. You can catch up on all the big season 2 moments right here!
Joanne Garcia Swisher, who plays Maddie, shared the exciting news on Instagram, writing:
“We are back! Season 3 of Sweet Magnolias is happening! 🌸💐”
The series also stars Brooke Elliott as Dana Sue Sullivan, Heather Headley as Decatur, Logan Allen as Kyle Townsend, Carson Rowland as Ty Townsend, Anneliese Judge as Annie Sullivan, Justin Bruening as Cal Maddox, Dion Johnstone as Erik Whitley, Brandon Quinn as Ronnie Sullivan, Jamie Lynn Spears as Noreen Fitzgibbons and Chris Klein as Bill Townsend.
While there’s no premiere date set just yet, we can expect a 10-episode release.
The news of a renewal couldn’t be sweeter!
7 Biggest Moments from ‘Sweet Magnolias’ Season 2
Just when you thought Sweet Magnolias couldn’t deliver a more shocking cliffhanger than the accident in the season 1 finale, they prove us wrong.
The uplifting show with a small-town charm also packs in plenty of juicy drama.
As we joined Maddie, Helen, Dana Sue and the rest of the fine people in Serenity for the next chapter in their journey, we laughed together and cried together through these jaw-dropping moments.
Isaac’s Birth Parents Revealed
This one tops the list because it was the most shocking turn of events. Peggy was revealed to be Isaac’s birth mother, which wasn’t much of a surprise considering the Sweet Magnolias previously mentioned that she left town during her junior year. However, it was confirmed that she went to have a baby and gave him up for adoption at the behest of her controlling mother. However, Isaac’s birth father was the one that really made jaws drop. There were theories that it might be Erik or Ryan, and while many assumed it would be the latter — and for a minute there, it seemed as though Peggy invited him to her office to tell him that they had a child — it turned out to be none other than Dr. Bill Townsend, the man who seems to never learn from his mistakes.
Admittedly, he couldn’t learn from this one since he didn’t know about the child now, but it was still such a huge moment for the show. Bill’s actions have hurt so many people in town — Maddie, the kids, Noreen, Rebecca, Isaac, and Peggy. While he tried to own up to the hurt, it’s going to take much more than an apology tour to make amends. But maybe this is the wake-up call he needs to finally start making better decisions for himself and his loved ones.
He has a huge family, but he’s alone because he’s pushed everyone away. Bill is my least favorite character on the series, for obvious reasons, but I do want to see him find a way forward with his children in the next season.
As for Isaac, his adoptive parents are to thank for the incredible man he turned out to be, but his quest for his birth parents gave him much more than just his birth mom and dad — he has a whole family and community rallying behind him. He has two women who are technically his stepmom’s (Noreen and Maddie) and four siblings. It’s also fitting that he extended so much kindness towards Noreen and Rebecca and allowed them to live in his home even before knowing that he was basically giving him stepmom and sister shelter.
What a turn of events.
A New Member of Serenity
That being said, Noreen finally had her baby. Unlike Bill, Noreen came to town to make amends for her mistakes. Her apologies actually meant something. She apologized to Maddie countless times for ruining her family because while Maddie blamed Bill, Noreen explained that she also knew better than to sleep with a married man. Honestly, what is it about Bill?
Noreen stayed in Serenity until her beautiful daughter, Rebecca, was born. And when she was showered with love by everyone in town, including Maddie, she realized that she was going to stay put and build a life here since this is where Rebecca’s family was. I love that the adults have chosen not to punish the children for their parent’s mistakes.
It was sweet and big of Maddie to give Noreen the blanket that she used to bring all three kids from the hospital. It was a peace offering that acknowledge that Rebecca is part of the family. I used to dislike Noreen, and while Jamie Lynne Spears hasn’t done the character any favors, it’s nice to see her welcomed with open arms when it would be very easy for everyone to ostracize her instead.
I swear that Maddie has been more involved in Rebecca’s life than Bill has.
But that’s not the only new face in town. A woman confronted Annie and asked her if she was Dana Sue’s daughter before commenting that she looked like “something she’d spit out” right before calling her mother a “home wrecker.” We then saw the same woman popping the tires of a Sullivan’s food truck. Now, my guess is that this is Ronnie’s ex who has come to get revenge on Dana Sue. And she might not be a new face at all considering when the Sweet Magnolias saw the video, they all huffed and declared: “she’s back.” Who is she?
The Town Rallies Against the Lewis’s
And becomes closer because of it! The Sweet Magnolias are a staple in Serenity, but now, they’re bringing people together and evoking a much-needed change in leadership. They’ve never seen eye-to-eye with Mary Vaughn — that’s not a surprise as their feud dates all the way back to high school — but Mary Vaughn continues to be a thorn in everyone’s side even as an adult. Not only does she bully and manipulate town members, but she wanted to take advantage of them to enrich herself. And she thought she was so clever, too.
In a town that thrives on kindness, Mary Vaugh is a sour lemonade amongst a sea of sweet teas. I didn’t have a lick of remorse considering how nasty her husband was to everyone at the hospital following the car accident involving the kids. Instead of asking for details about what led to the crash, he simply pointed fingers at everyone else. Honestly, even their own children seem to hate them.
I hope the recall sticks and Helen can run for Mayor instead!
Helen was all over the place this season, through no fault of her own. After Ryan broke things off and left town, Helen found out that she was pregnant. Her joy was short-lived, however, as she suffered a miscarriage that left her broken but not hopeless. She immediately told Howie that she was ready to have a baby and began the process with the blessing of her sweet friends, Erik being one of them. It was clear to everyone around that Erik absolutely adored Helen, but she wasn’t ready for a relationship, and he respected it.
Eventually, Helen warmed up to the idea, and Erik informed her that he would be supportive of her journey to parenthood regardless of their relationship status. There are a lot of great men in Serenity (and a lot of bad ones, too), but Erik is the cream of the crop.
When it finally seemed like Helen’s life was on the right track, Ryan returned to town after Ms. Frances’s death (may she Rest In Peace!) with a grand vision of what he wanted for his life. Apparently, loss gave him a new perspective. Unfortunately, he didn’t really consider Helen’s vision for her life and instead, just swooped in there like Hurricane Ryan ready to blow things up for her yet again.
In the final moments, Ryan — without having a real heart-to-heart with Helen to discuss all their previous issues or, you know, the fact that he said he didn’t want kids only to come running back to her saying he changed his mind — plopped down on one knee and proposed.
What bothers me so much about this is that Ryan has zero regard for Helen. He saw her holding hands with Erik and still went through with the proposal. He knows how much he hurt her, yet he thinks this gesture and the fact that he now wants kids, erases all that pain. It’s naive.
As a capable and dynamic woman, one would hope that Helen sees this for what it is and realizes that Erik has been by her side the whole time offering nothing but grace, support, love, encouragement, and patience.
Helen, do not do Erik like this!
There were plenty of relationships — old and new — taking shape and falling into place on Sweet Magnolias season 2.
I already mentioned Helen and Erik, but next to them, the sweetest couple was definitely Maddie and Cal, who finally made things official. I know that they were already dating in the first season, but Maddie was still pretty broken up about the divorce and weary about putting herself out there again. That wasn’t the case with season 2 as she accepted him into her life and acknowledged that she was ready to move on with a man who held her heart and was a rock for her and her children during the hard times.
Dana Sue and Ronnie were an emotional rollercoaster, but who can blame them? They were both traumatized by the hurt that they caused each other in the past. It’s easy to get back into bed with someone, but letting them in emotionally is a whole different story. That’s why Dana Sue pursued a relationship with Jeremy — even though he was younger, it was easier than facing the reality that getting back together with your unfaithful ex-husband is going to bring up a lot of stuff from your past that you bottled up inside.
However, Ronnie was adamant that he wasn’t leaving or giving up on the idea of a reconciliation. At times, Dana Sue was pretty hard on him as he tried his best to prove that he was a changed man who deserved her love.
After a few attempts at counseling, Dana Sue admitted that forgiving Ronnie meant that she also had to forgive herself for the damage she caused. They always say it takes two to tango, and in this case, Ronnie acted out because he was unhappy, but Dana Sue made him unhappy by pushing aside all of his dreams.
The two finally decided to give their marriage another shot, but we’ll see what that looks like moving forward. All I know is that Ronnie fit in seamlessly in Dana Sue’s life, and I, for one, want him to stick around.
Young love was also in full bloom as Jackson pursued a relationship with Annie. Jackson was a troubled kid, and the Lewis reputation didn’t do him any favors, but after he opened up, it was revealed that he was a sweet and well-mannered kid who fell hard for Annie.
Kyle and Nellie also admitted to having feelings for each other after, but their romance was short-lived after Mary Vaugh forbade Nellie and Jackson from seeing the “Sullivan girl” and the “Townsend boy.” Jackson wasn’t interested in abiding by his mother’s rules, but Nellie was too young to push back, so she kissed Puck goodbye… for now.
Tyler and CeCe also broke up, but considering Ty was mad at the world following his accident, he didn’t actually deserve her. Annie’s friend Lily expressed interest, and come season 3, I’m sure we’ll be exploring something there. Tyler’s baseball-free summer also allowed him to see a world past the game, and he realized he no longer wanted to play professionally in college.
The Aftermath of the Accident
The accident, while a huge cliffhanger on season 2, was a mere footnote. Kyle’s passenger was Nellie, but thankfully, they both survived. Kyle was a little more banged up than Nellie, and his road to recovery was tough, but with a little therapy, he was back on track.
At the hospital, emotions were running high, and in one stupid moment, Jackson and Tyler got into a fight that broke Jackson’s arm and cost him his shot at state. It was a hard pill to swallow considering this is all he’s ever wanted and worked for, but Tyler used the summer to really figure himself out.
Cal’s Angry Outburst
Forget state, Cal might be headed back to anger management classes. After the Sweet Magnolias rallied the town to sign a petition to boot the Mayor out of office, Mary Vaugh decided to retaliate by going after Maddie’s sweetheart, Cal. First, she got him fired as coach by bringing up a bar fight he was involved in years ago. It’s unfair considering that was in the past, but when is fair a word that’s associated with Mary Vaugh? I wouldn’t be surprised if she paid the “super fan” who was so worked up that he came to Sullivan’s in order to help Cal get his job back.
The moment immediately took on a crazed/obsessed fan vibe, and when Dana Sue called the cops and he crossed a line with Maddie, Cal simply lost it and punched the guy. The assault, and the subsequent arrest, happened right in front of the patrons, which only feeds Mary Vaughn’s point that Cal is too hotheaded and violent to coach high school.
Again, it seems too coincidental to have been an accidental situation. It smells of Mary Vaughn’s meddling.
Of course, this might not only be a setback for Cal’s new career path, but also for Maddie and Cal’s relationship as he promised that he was no longer that angry man from his past, and yet, she was once again blindsided by a totally different side of him. Maddie’s heart can’t take being blindsided by another man anymore — Bill has done that enough.
While I still think Cal is a great guy, the situation was simply too much for him. He was fired, his past was held against him, and his future was threatened by a fan who could’ve done real harm to the people he loved. It might not be the right reaction, but with so much stress coursing through his veins, it was a human one.
What are your thoughts after watching Sweet Magnolia’s season 2?
What moment did you find most shocking?
Share all your thoughts in the comments below!
Sweet Magnolias Season 2 Premiere Recap – Casseroles for Days
What do you do when there’s a major accident in the small, gossip-loving town? You shower the hurting family with casseroles.
After what seemed like forever (2 years, to be exact), Sweet Magnolias returned to Netflix with a second season that tied up the loose ends left behind by an electrifying season 1 finale.
There’s no moving on without addressing the outstanding questions, so the episode got right into with everyone at the hospital waiting to see if Kyle and his passenger, Nellie, were okay.
The heightened emotions made for some very intense moments, including the Mayor and her husband naturally pointing fingers and placing blame on Bill and Maddie’s children.
It’s wild that parents wouldn’t want to get to the bottom of what actually happened?
Jackson was the root of all the problems, and he felt guilty as can be for the events that led up to the accident.
And to make matters worse, he got into it with Ty at the hospital and injured his arm thus ending his shot at state.
Tyler has been through a lot, but this was the gut punch that he wasn’t expecting nor does he know how to bounce back from it.
He ignored the doctor’s instructions to let it heal properly and instead, tried to get back into the swing of things, which from the look on his face, not only hurt terrible but likely extended his recovery time even longer.
Even with Ty’s misstep and Jackson’s breakdown, the children still seemed much better at processing their emotions than the adults.
Nellie came to the hospital while her parents were out for a dinner to forgive Kyle for almost getting her killed. It was very big of her, and even though Kyle still felt personally responsible, it likely eased his conscious slightly. Nellie knew that he would never intentionally hurt her, so he didn’t need to carry the guilt.
However, Maddie didn’t think she could find it in her to forgive Bill because every single bad thing began when he walked out on the family. It was a conscious choice to turn his back on his family, and in Maddie’s eyes, that unforgivable even if she tolerates him being around.
She made it very clear that she is not interested in fixing things between them, and honestly, Bill is out of his depth for even thinking that would ever be a possibility.
He made his bed, now he must lie in it. He can be there for the kids — even though they aren’t fond of him either — but his efforts should likely be extended to Noreen, who is pregnant with his child.
However, Maddie did make one good call, and that’s allowing Cal to be part of her life in a romantic way. Serenity’s cutest couple is back on.
Cal is such a stable presence in her life; he’s calming, level-headed, and knows how to treat a woman.
If it’s between Bill and Cal, well, there’s no competition there. It’s an obvious choice, and Maddie made the right one.
While much of the episode’s focus was on the accident, there were still a few outstanding questions that needed to be addressed. And they were.
Dana Sue told the ladies that she’s not Isaac’s birth mother, but she’s determined to help him find out who is. This is going to be quite a juicy storyline, and I’m ready for it.
Her love life is also heating up with two men: hunky Jeremy, whom she figured is the “impractical choice,” and Ronnie, Annie’s father who is the “practical one.”
Honestly, I’m not surprised Dana Sue is having a hard time figuring out her love life because both men are smoking hot and bring something unique to the table.
Even if she doesn’t get back together with Ronnie, it’s nice that he’s a presence in Annie’s life since she needs all the support she can get lately.
While Helen, Dana Sue, and Maddie’s friendship is thicker than honey, things got a bit rocky when Dana Sue mentioned that Annie has been feeling personally responsible for not doing more to stop Kyle and Ty.
It’s heartbreaking that she’s carrying so much of that pressure because she tried her best — the rest isn’t on her.
And while Dana Sue wants to be supportive of Maddie, she also kind of blames the boys for always putting her in the middle.
Annie is a sensitive yet strong person, so as Dana Sue mentioned, “she absorbs every kick” and is expected to move on while the boys are coddled. It’s a testament to how boys versus girls are treated in any situation, honestly, so I’m glad she’s sticking up for her daughter and highlighting that while she wasn’t physically injured in the accident, the scars are still there. She, too, has to heal from this and find a way to move forward.
I also love that both Dana Sue and Ronnie didn’t punish Annie. Instead, they acknowledged that there is a lot to talk about, but they also led with the fact that they love her and are glad that she’s okay. What an incredible parenting style!
Helen got some concerning news from Dr. Howie, but she kept it close to heart for most of the episode. I guess we should’ve seen it coming since she kept alluding to how “mamas” know everything, but from her reaction, I figured she was informed of an illness like cancer or something.
However, in the final few moments of the episode, after Dana Sue walks out, Helen refuses to take a sip of her margarita and informs Maddie that she’s pregnant.
Pregnant with Ryan’s baby.
And now we know exactly why she’s been friend-zoning Erik this whole time. Their chemistry is electric, and he’s such a good guy, but she’s expecting a child with a man she has loved her whole life who also left Serenity because he was adamant about not having children.
It’s not an ideal situation.
What will Helen do moving forward? Will she even tell Ryan?
Seeing how much Erik cares about her, I wouldn’t be surprised if he accepted her and the baby as his own.
What did you think of the Sweet Magnolias Season 2 premiere?
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