cover art by @peachypaintin on Instagram
By Alena Nguyen
If I could describe the Netflix original show “Sweet Magnolias” in one word, it’d be “Southern”. Everything about it seems fit for a Southern housewife to watch on a hot summer’s day with her girlfriends drinking mimosas. The only thing missing from the show to make it fully southern is that not everyone has an accent. After getting separated from her husband and in the process of a divorce, Maddie (played by Joanna Garcia Swisher) and her two best friends Helen the lawyer (Heather Headley) and Dana Sue the chef (Brooke Elliott) come together and start a spa in their sweet town of Serenity. Along the way, almost everyone is caught up in some romantic plot and in between kissing, the three women who call themselves Sweet Magnolias (hence the title of the show) get together and drink margaritas.
Imagine Stars Hollow from “Gilmore Girls” and Middleton from “The Good Witch” but modernized- that’s Serenity for you. One of the first things that caught my eye (besides the fact that I thought Maddie was played by Amy Adams) was the color. The show was vibrantly shot and the color pallet for the town and Dana Sue’s restaurant looked as if it came right out of some HGTV magazine- which probably adds to the Southern feel of it. Everyone and their children look genetically perfect- literally. The color grading reminded me of the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” color scheme- cerulean blues, vibrant greens, and a splash of pink.
This show is definitely something for your mom and her friends to enjoy. The love triangle between Ty, Annie, and Kyle is as basic as an unrequited love triangle can get- there’s no drama like in “Outer Banks” or “Riverdale”, just three friends with lowkey feelings in the way. Anneliese Judge plays Annie, a demure and bashful teen photographer and the daughter of chef Dana Sue. She’s been friends with Maddie’s children Ty (Carson Rowland) and Kyle (Logan Allen) but secretly has a crush on Ty, while Kyle secretly has a crush on Annie. Between the three, Kyle has the most vibrant and lovable personality. His bold, theatre-like personality comes in conflict with his feelings for Annie and his attempts to confess his love for her constantly flop. Kyle is the underdog we have all felt towards a crush and is definitely underrated. Annie’s shy character throughout the show hindered any development Annie could’ve had and made it seem like her only personality trait was pining after Ty and being emotional with her mom. While the show was mainly about the Sweet Magnolias developing their spa, if the writers wanted to include a plot to appeal to younger teens, they should probably give them more personality traits.
The characters’ plots were incredibly low-stakes, which helps make the show so easy to watch. I found it amusing that everything built up to a baseball game as the ultimate climax to the “chaos” of this show, as most things in teen lifestyles tend to build up to a big sports game. The show is syrupy sweet, heartwarming, and lovable- just like the characters.
Watch Season 1 of “Sweet Magnolias” now on Netflix.