Sweet Magnolias created by Sheryl Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My first impression of the first episode was that this story was quite saccharine-sweet. And that first impression maintains its accuracy throughout the season. It takes place in a Southern, fictional town of Serenity and follows the lives of three women who have been friends since high school.
They want to start a spa together in a mansion that they apparently spent a lot of time in when they were kids. And I thought the building of said spa was going to be the main focus of the first season. But as the show continued, the spa became somewhat of an afterthought.
The main focus of the show really were the relationships, between the three women as well as their children, community, and love interests. There were a couple of love triangles that didn’t feel fully developed. And sometimes the chemistry also came across as awkward. Also, I don’t know where to fit this, but the accents are all over the place. They are southern accents, but from various regions which is strange since they are all supposed to be from this one town.
In a nutshell, this is an easy, “turn your brain off” kind of show. The conversations, even the more deeper ones are not very long or detailed, even feeling glossed over at times. Plot points are either resolved quickly or ignored for several episodes, only to be mentioned again in the laundry list of drama that they are having to deal with. But in their defense, there seems to be a lot of ground to cover before the cliffhanger at the end. We have to understand how we get to that point, and that means a lot of rushed drama and quick resolutions.
I felt at times like I didn’t know the characters well enough to understand why certain things bothered them or why their reactions were so strong. I know this is based on a book series, so I feel like I’m missing chunks of their motivations because I haven’t read the books. But they will mention something to a character, but then there is no follow up until several episodes later when they dissolve a relationship over that thing that they haven’t really mentioned more than a couple times.
There is profanity throughout the show, usually followed by an apology for the language, and meant to give the speaker either strength or sass. Sexual content includes several kissing scenes as well as one sex scene that is not graphic at all. Violence includes some fist fights, some almost assaults, but no one is severely hurt. There is underage drinking and bullying among the kids which is sort of addressed, again like most of the drama.
But all of those issues aside, I still gave it four stars because it is a nice escape from reality. Serenity is just one of those places that you can just go with the flow. The drama is muted, most of the conflict is resolved with ease and cliché. And the humor is just the right amount of eye-rolling corny that I like. Big warning, the season ends with a huge cliffhanger, and I’m not sure there will be a second season any time soon (thanks, coronavirus).