Pour It Out
A United Front
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Lay It All Down
Dance First, Think Later
All Best Intentions
Hold My Hand
What Fools These Mortals Be
Where You Find Me
Storms and Rainbows
Netflix’s latest drama Sweet Magnolias takes all the usual tropes inherent in Lifetime, Hallmark and CW shows and smooshes them together into a syrupy slice of life drama. With a host of diverse characters wrapped up in their own issues throughout the series, Sweet Magnolias relies heavily on its characters to push the narrative forward.
Based on the series of novels by Sherryl Woods, Sweet Magnolias spends its first episode getting you acquainted to the residents of the fictional town of Serenity before splitting each chapter after that up into thirds to focus on the issues each of our trio of ladies fronting this series faces.
Recently divorced Maddie tries to move on from her ex Bill who has already shacked up with a new love interest. Dana Sue works at a restaurant and faces a tough decision to make regarding her head chef while Helen works as a lawyer. Together, they decide to open a brand new spa in town but along the way are forced to deal with small-town gossip, romantic issues and all manner of soapy, breezy drama that consume this town.
It’s all very simple stuff and at times pretty cliched too. There’s nothing here that’s particularly challenging and against more melodramatic set-ups and efforts on the streaming platform, Sweet Magnolias is a little too sweet for its own good.
To be fair, the series does start to ramp up the tension a bit toward the end of this sleepy drama but this is also one of those shows that feels designed to appeal to the sort of demographic that would throw this on as background noise to dip in and out of.
That’s a shame though because visually Magnolias looks great. The vibrant colour palette helps each scene pop, the composition is pretty good throughout and the understated musical score that accompanies much of the slice of life shenanigans help to keep things moving at a consistent pace.
The characters do have rounded arcs through the season and Maddie’s kids have their own storylines too which helps to pad out the run-time. 10 episodes does feel a tad too long but if you’re sold on this premise and tone after the first couple of episodes you’ll almost certainly see this one through to the end.
Ultimately though Sweet Magnolias feels a little too nice for its own good. There’s little in the way of sustained, dramatic spikes of tension nor are there any wild twists or turns along the way. This is one of those shows that has a very specific audience in mind and if you’re not in that demographic it’s unlikely you’ll stick around for the long haul.
That’s not to say the series is bad (there’s a reason Hallmark and Lifetime movies continue to churn out new titles every year) but it’s also not a particularly good or memorable drama either. Sweet Magnolias is the packet mix equivalent of cake baking. Sure it may be edible by the end but it’s unlikely to remain an experience that sticks with you when you could bake something far better from scratch.
Verdict - 5/10