Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias is the low-stakes drama we all need right now

Posted by for Life

This irresistibly gentle TV series is one of the most popular shows on Netflix

When we’re not cautiously meeting our loved ones for (safely socially-distanced) walks and picnics, we’re watching TV. This makes sense, if you think about it: the ongoing coronavirus lockdown has prompted many of us to, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, batten down the hatches and spend a lot more time at home than usual. Thus, our endless appetite for entertainment.

During this time, Netflix has come up trumps, dropping a whole host of new TV shows and films for us to sink our teeth into. And now, hot on the heels of Tiger King, Unorthodox, Crash Landing On You, White Lines, and Into The Night, it seems we have a new must-watch series on our hands.

We’re talking, of course, about Sweet Magnolias.

Unlike the aforementioned shows, Sweet Magnolias (an adaptation of Sherryl Woods’s popular book series) delivers… 

Well, it delivers low-stakes drama: think a stolen bottle of whiskey here, a crush on an attractive baseball coach there, all muddled together with plenty of spiky conversation over margaritas. Essentially, the sort of down-to-earth, mundane struggles we all used to endure back in the days when we were allowed to spend time with one another.

This unique gentleness has seemingly proven itself to be irresistible to viewers around the globe: the show is in Netflix’s Top 10 list in Australia and the USA, and it’s steadily climbing in popularity here in the UK, too.

With that in mind, then, here’s everything you need to know about this syrupy-sweet TV show.

What’s the plot of Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias?

The Netflix synopsis keeps things short and sweet (much like the show itself): “Lifelong friends lift each other up as they juggle relationships, family, and careers in the small Southern town of Serenity.”

Check out the trailer for yourself below:

Maybe just a little more detail…?

Fine, have it your way. This Netflix show is primarily about the bonds of friendship between chef Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), lawyer Helen (Heather Headley), and events planner Maddie (Joanna Garcia Swisher).

The first episode kicks off with Maddie’s divorce proceedings: her doctor husband, Bill (Chris Klein), has gotten his mistress, Noreen (THE Jamie-Lynn Spears), pregnant. Her friends think they should pool their resources and open a women-only spa. Maddie thinks they’re being insensitive to her grief. She storms out, mid-margarita, and everyone feels a bit awkward for a moment.

Naturally, though, this spa is the driving force of the show. Quickly, our trio comes to an agreement that sees them pool their talents a bid to make all of their dreams come true. But will they be able to convert a beloved family home into a spa within the month?

As we said… low-stakes drama. Settle in, folks, and enjoy the ride.

Where is Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias filmed?

Unlike the big, bad outside world, the town of Serenity is as sunny and safe as its name suggests. The storefronts are impossibly pretty, the houses are luxuriously large, the parks well-manicured, the trees lushly leafy. The local church is full of smiling, welcoming faces. And, despite the racial tension seen in the IRL South Carolina, the population of this little town is happily diverse, too.

Everyone knows each other. There are no serial killers or viruses to watch out for, there is no dramatic soundtrack to make you feel uncomfortable. When people have too much to drink in this show, they have perfectly ordinary hangovers. When friends argue, they reconcile within a few scenes. And, when a character is upset, it is usually because someone phrased something in a clumsy manner. Indeed, all emotional upheaval is often forgotten by the time the credits roll.

You can understand, then, why people are so enchanted by the town of Serenity. Unfortunately for them, though, there’s no such place: Serenity is actually Covington, Georgia, a town which is home to a population of 13,000 and which, according to the town’s official website, GoCovington.com, has been home to around 130 productions, including Doctor Sleep, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Netflix’s Dumplin’ and the episode of Queer Eye Season 1 where the Fab Five gave a fireman a makeover.

Maddie (Joanna Garcia Swisher) ponders her future in Sweet Magnolias.

What are people saying about Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias?

This is a show that positively radiates pleasantness, so it makes sense that Twitter is awash with lovely comments about the series.

“There’s a new show called Sweet Magnolias on Netflix and I am already OBSESSED,” reads one such comment. “I absolutely adooooore small town shows and this one gives me Gilmore Girls vibes with more diverse characters.”

Another reads: “I’m invested [in this show]! I need season two please, stat!”

And still one more says: “I binge-watched #SweetMagnolias and it’s 4:20 am and I am IN my feelings…”

There’s also a LOT of comments about Noreen (aka Jamie-Lynn Spears’ character) and her “audacity”. Quite honestly, we doubt the word “audacity” has ever been thrown around quite this much before. Let’s just say that people have mixed feelings about the woman who tore apart Maddie’s family, and leave it there, OK?

Is Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias genuinely good TV?

Listen, some may call this “guilty pleasure TV”, but we’re firmly of the opinion that there is no such thing. If you’re sick of the 24/7 news cycle and in desperate need of some small-town escapism, then this is the show for you. If your heart can’t take any more tragedy, this is the show for you. And if you just want to sink into something as mind-numbingly feel-good as a bubble bath surrounded by candles, then trust us: this is the show for you.

Fair warning: this isn’t the sort of telly that wins Emmy Awards. Instead, this is the sort of telly you turn to when your soul needs soothing. That leaves you with a warm fuzzy glow long after the credits roll. That only demands part of your valuable attention (yes, you can half-watch Sweet Magnolias as you scroll through your phone: trust me on this). That allows you to type the word “AUDACITY” in capital letters, without feeling like a fraud. That delivers a soundtrack filled with soft Southern gems from Nickel Creek, Emily Smith, and more

Oh yes. If all of this sounds a bit of you, then give Sweet Magnolias a go. We promise you won’t regret it.

There is nothing but happiness in Sweet Magnolias.

So, how many episodes of Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias are there?

Just 10, and they’re all available to stream on Netflix right now. We’ll see you on the other side of that cliffhanger finale, yeah?

Sign up to our daily email for a curated edit of the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you’ll never miss out on the conversation again.

Images: Netflix

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray