'Sweet Magnolias' Season One: As tragic cliffhanger closes season, will Maddie and Bill give it another shot?
The next season will be based on the next book in the novel series and is likely to draw more focus on either Dana Sue or Helen
Netflix's new drama series 'Sweet Magnolias' is an ode to friendship — the kind that is resilient and stands the test of time. The story is based in the fictional town of Serenity, somewhere near North Carolina and pans in on three best friends, Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliot), and Helen Decatur (Heather Headley), who have been inseparable since high school.
A small-town romance drama, it follows the trio's journey, as they navigate their way through the hardships and challenges that life occasionally throws at them. Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen have been friends for years, and have formed a kind of bond that likens them to a sisterhood. The three are each other's support system and drop whatever they're busy with when either of them sends in an SOS.
The plot follows Maddie as she pieces her life back together after going through a messy divorce with her husband, Bill (Chris Klein), who cheated on her with his younger assistant Noreen Fitzgibbons (Jamie Lynn Spears) and knocked her up. She's struggling with herself while trying to figure out how to be a co-parent.
Dana Sue Sullivan is the head chef and owner at Sullivan's, a popular restaurant in Serenity. She has been in the same predicament as Maddie, with her husband cheating on her and knows exactly what her best friend is going through. She has a teenage daughter, Annie, who is close friends with the Townsend kids and is passionate about photography. She has occasional tantrum-throwing episodes, acting out against her mother and blaming her for her father's absence in her life. Dana Sue has health scare at work one day when the stresses weighing her down increases her blood pressure and causes her to collapse. Since then she is mindful of her sugar intake, as diabetes is apparently inherent in the Sullivan family.
Helen Decatur is a family lawyer, who yearns to have a family of her own. She feels her biological clock is ticking and desperately wants children of her own. Helen hasn't had it easy, either, and has always fallen short in the romance department. In her whole life, she has only ever loved one man who isn't one to settle down in one place. Helen is left heartbroken after she learns that he hasn't changed his mind over his decision to not have kids, which is her only desire.
Maddie, Dana, and Helen decide to invest in a new venture when they learn that the ancestral home on the street corner, where they spent much of their younger years and hold fond memories, was on the market. They bought it, refurbished it, and transformed it into a homely spa, giving Maddie a means of livelihood as a manager. While the spa is a success, it has yet to pick up on business.
Maddie's three children, Tyler (Carson Rowland), Kyle (Logan Allen), and Katie (Bianca Berry Tarantino) are having an even harder time. Their parents' separation has affected them greatly, to the point that Tyler, the older Townsend, who plays varsity baseball is unable to focus on his games. Kyle is an aspiring thespian and more accepting of his father's mistress, while the youngest child Katie is easily swayed by food and desserts.
Maddie meets former baseball player for the Braves, Cal Maddox (Justin Bruening), and sparks fly between the two. However, she initially hesitates to pursue him, since he also happens to be her son's coach. But Cal is relentless and breaks through Maddie's walls by wining her like a true gentleman. Cal is also especially fond of Maddie's children, and as his coach cares a great deal about Tyler and his career prospects.
Bill's character comes off as daft, peculiar, and to a certain degree even hypocritical. His tendency to make decisions without thinking them through has definitely blown up in his face a few times, but he justifies it by saying "I want to do the right thing". He loves his children but has a terrible way of showing it, especially when he neglects Kyle and Katie while focusing greatly on Tyler and his ball games. Bill is a doctor and sabotaged his marriage with Maddie by sleeping with his assistant and getting her pregnant. However, it is evident that he is not too happy with his decisions, and at the end of the series, we see him sad, alone, and asking for Maddie to take him back.
Bill's mistress, Noreen, is hard to dislike because as much of a 'homewrecker' as she is, she is also very humble and respectful to Maddie and the kids, save for the occasional selfish remarks. She just wants to live a blissful life with someone that loves her and realizes that she may not have a chance at happiness with Bill, who is most likely only with her for the sake of the baby she's carrying. So she leaves him, and most probably for good.
Another significant character in the series is that of Erik Whitley (Dion Johnstone), the sous chef at Sullivan's who is an incredible friend and confidante to the three ladies. His life, however, is shrouded by mystery. So far, the only details about him that we have clear is that he lost his wife, which devastated him, and that he may have been an EMT that went to culinary school after the tragedy and became a chef.
Perhaps, the biggest plot twist in the whole series is the possibility that the young chef/trainee in Dana Sue's kitchen, Isaac Downey (Chris Medlin), is her son from the previous relationship, who she'd abandoned. Isaac who grew up with adoptive parents only ever knew that his mother was from Serenity and moved to the small town seeking answers about his birth parents.
Annie, Kyle, and Tyler are close friends but a series of events causes them to drift apart from each other by just a tad. While Kyle decides to pass on prom night and play videogames with his friend at her house, her brother bursts in with friends in tow to crash their night and host the after-party in his living room. Annie, Tyler, and their respective dates are among those attending the party. Soon a brawl breaks out between the Townsend brothers and the host of the party, after which Kyle is seen dashing out of the house, everyone following him in concern.
The last thing we see is Maddie, Bill, Helen, Dana Sue and the others answering a phone call, and hurrying to an accident site, where Tyler's car has crashed. The paramedics manage to drag an injured Kyle out of the driver's seat, but the parents are yet to find out the identity of the other person in the car beside him.
Season one of 'Sweet Magnolias' ended with an apparent cliff-hanger, and now we play the waiting game until the next season drops to know Kyle's fate and who the other passenger riding shotgun with him was. The next season will be based on the next book in the novel series and is likely to draw more focus on either Dana Sue or Helen, and will also hopefully determine where Maddie and Cal stand in their relationship.
Will Maddie end up giving Bill a second chance? Will Helen be able to get over her first love and make her dream of being a mother come true? Will Dana Sue be able to trust a man again, and actually put herself on the market again?
'Sweet Magnolias' is now streaming on Netflix.