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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sweet Magnolias is a sweet and endearing drama series on Netflix created by Sheryl J. Anderson (Charmed, Ties That Bind) and based off of the Sweet Magnolia book series written by Sherryl Woods that centers on three childhood friends. There are many positive role models who are not afraid to be vulnerable, express their emotions, and show empathy and compassion for others, as well as themes of friendship, women supporting women, and new beginnings. There is no nudity, but there's some adult language that includes words such as "son of a bitch," "ass," and "jerk." There's some light flirting and kissing among adults, and a man is punched outside of a restaurant. The show features many feel-good moments with moral lessons embedded within the narrative.
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What's the story?
SWEET MAGNOLIAS centers on three best friends since childhood as they guide each other through the highs and lows in life. Nestled in the close-knit Southern town of Serenity, Helen Decatur (Heather Hedley), Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), and Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliott) support each other unconditionally through life's up and downs, family relationships, and new beginnings. Lessons are learned about the power of community and friendship and the inevitability of change.
Is it any good?
This is as endearing as it sounds, and it highlights the positive impact that friendships and nurturing relationships can have on a person's life. Life in the southern town of Serenity is charming and neat, and the characters are flawed, beautiful, and complex. Helen, a strong and compassionate lawyer, is good at helping others, but hasn't quite figured out how to create a family of her own. Dana Sue is a chef who runs a successful restaurant, but her health, emotions, and personal relationships are hanging by a thread -- especially with her perceptive, artistic teenage daughter, Annie, played with great ease by newcomer Anneliese Judge. Maddie Townsend, a newly single mom of three, is grappling with resentment toward her cheating husband Bill (Chris Klein) and exploring a budding relationship with an attractive, kind new man. Together, these friends navigate the murky waters of life, and the drama that ensues makes this series a must-see.
Women uplifting and holding each other up when they need it most never gets old, and Headley, Swisher, and Elliott have good chemistry. Jamie Lynn Spears is really sweet as Bill's pregnant fiancée, Noreen, and the overall casting seems just right. The men in this series are complex and intriguing to watch too. Dion Johnstone as Chef Erik Whitley and Justin Bruening as Coach Maddox are both socially and emotionally mature, and they shine bright in their respective roles. While some of the scenarios are just too good to be true, there's a sweetness and overall positive tone that makes up for the overly manicured scenes. The series tugs at the heart without being too moralistic or prudish. The themes in Sweet Magnolias are relatable, and the scenes are well-written and succinct, though at times a little cheesy. Yet, it works. Sweet Magnolias sheds a beautiful light on Southern culture while keeping it real about the fact that just because a community looks perfect doesn't mean it actually is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about friendship. How important are friendships in Sweet Magnolias? What do you think makes a good friend? Do the friendships seen here remind you of any of your own friendships?
There are many role models in Sweet Magnolias. Who are the role models, and what character strengths do they personify? Are they figures you would look up to in your own life?
What role does communication play in this story? What are some ways in which Helen, Maddie, and Dana Sue express their love and appreciation for one another?
What makes the community of Serenity so unique?
- Premiere date: May 19, 2020
- Cast: JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Brooke Elliott, Heather Hedley
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Courage, Empathy, Humility, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-14
- Available on: Streaming
- Last updated: June 30, 2020
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