TV

Why Netflix's Sweet Magnolias is the relaxing quarantine show you need to binge-watch right now

Cancel your plans, thank us later.

By Rebecca Sullivan
If you're anything like us, you might have found that your TV and movie tastes have done a total backflip during life in isolation.
Back in the time we'll refer to as "BC" (Before Corona), we could have happily whittled away an evening binging shows like Black Mirror or Homeland.
But those kind of intense, gripping dramas just seem way too real and confronting right now.
Lately, we just want to watch things that feel like a warm hug and transport us somewhere far, far away, like 18th century Scotland (Outlander), an Irish college campus (Normal People) or a 1990s basketball court (The Last Dance).
The data from Netflix proves that our streaming tastes have definitely evolved during this pandemic, with feel good series like Never Have I Ever, Virgin River and Derry Girls trending right now, along with deliciously trashy escapist reality shows Selling Sunset and Love Is Blind.
It might also be why we've re-watched Notting Hill about 12 times over the past few months - it's comforting, predictable and Julia Roberts is just divine to watch.
And now, there's a new show that's become our favourite wholesome pandemic distraction - Sweet Magnolias.
The Netflix adaptation of the bestselling American romance novels by Sherryl Woods follows three South Carolina women - restaurant owner Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), lawyer Helen (Heather Headley) and newly-divorced mother-of-three, Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) - as they guide each other through work, family and romantic life in their fictional small town of Serenity.
Sweet Magnolias features the perfect mix of Friday Night Lights' juicy small town drama, along with Nashville's heroic female leads (and killer blowouts) and The Bold Type's honest depiction of modern female friendships.
It's light, it's breezy and everyone has great hair. What more could you want?
Keep on scrolling to find out why Sweet Magnolias is the show you need to start binging immediately.
JoAnna Garcia Swisher stars as the show's heroine Maddie Townsend, whose husband and father of her children cheats on her, leading to their divorce. Image: Netflix

Everyone wears amazing clothes

The fabulous clothes and accessories on shows like Mad Men or Gossip Girl eventually become like another beloved character - and that's exactly the case with the costumes on Sweet Magnolias.
Each character has their own signature style - for Maddie it's cute blouses paired with high-waisted jeans, for Helen it's chic corporate dresses and colourful designer handbags - that makes you want to covet every item instantly.
Maddie wore this cute LoveShackFancy Bea Dress during one episode and it quickly sold out . Image: ShopYourTV.com
During another key moment in the series, Maddie donned her signature florals in the form of this Likely Minka Dress. It too has sold out. Image: ShopYourTV.com

Britney Spears' younger sister Jamie-Lynn Spears has a starring role

Yep, Britney's baby sister is all grown up!
The 29-year-old sister of the Oops I Did It Again hitmaker plays Noreen FitzGibbon, the young nurse who has an affair with lead character Maddie's husband, later falling pregnant with his child.
In real life, Jamie Lynn fell pregnant herself at age 16 with her then-boyfriend, Casey Aldridge.
She gave birth to the couple's child, a baby girl, in 2008. Their daughter Maddie Briann is now 11 years old.
Jamie Lynn Spears (left) with Chris Klein, who plays doctor and Maddie's ex-husband, Bill Townsend. Image: Netflix

There's great body and race diversity in the cast

Dana Sue (left), Maddie (centre) and Helen (right) hard at work. Image: Netflix
It's super refreshing to see a show about female friendship featuring three actresses who are not all white and sample size.
Their inclusion does not feel like tokenism at all, with each character fully fleshed out and without the usual cliches.
Race and body image are not employed as overt plot devices, but rather sit quietly on the sidelines.
It's refreshing to see Helen's role extended far beyond that of the "strong, sassy black best friend". Image: Netflix
Women of all ages, shapes, races and sizes are featured on Sweet Magnolias. Image: Netflix

The lead star was once on Gossip Girl

Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) and Bree Buckley (JoAnna García Swisher) on Gossip Girl. Image: CW
JoAnna García Swisher starred as Bree Buckley on season three of Gossip Girl.
Her character had a brief fling with Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) for a few episodes.
If you recognise García Swisher, you might know her from her previous appearances on Freaks and Geeks and How I Met Your Mother.

The male love interest is very handsome

Maddie (JoAnna García Swisher) starts a relationship with high school baseball coach Cal Maddox (Justin Bruening). Image: Netflix
Newly-divorced Maddie finds herself starting up a whirlwind romance with the local high school baseball coach Cal (Justin Bruening), who in an unfortunate twist, also teaches her eldest son.
But while you wait for these to to sort out their romantic issues, viewers are treated to a lot of Bruening's glorious six pack, biceps and hair.
You'll thank us later.

Sweet Magnolias is beyond relaxing to watch

Sweet Magnolias also features some seriously amazing house porn. Image: Netflix
The petty dramas of small town life seem like a walk in the park (literally - there is a lot of walking among manicured, lush greenery in this show) compared to the challenges brought on by the current pandemic.
It's so easy to get lost in the lovely, wholesome reality of life in Serenity, that for a brief minute we can forget about the chaos happening around us.
Sweet Magnolias is streaming on Netflix now.