Sweet Magnolias boss on that cliffhanger, the Magnolias' bond, what could be next
Warning: This article contains plot details from season 1 of Netflix's Sweet Magnolias.
Prom night took a disastrous turn on the Sweet Magnolias season finale.
After a dust-up between the Townsend brothers at a prom after-party, Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) gets a call about an accident. When he gets to the scene, she discovers it was Kyle (Logan Allen) driving Tyler’s (Carson Rowland) car, and, in the closing moments, the central trio learns there’s an unknown passenger in the vehicle. Was it Tyler? Annie (Anneliese Judge)? That mystery remains unsolved.
The Magnolias were all preoccupied with other matters before they got the call about that season-ending accident. Maddie, who broke up with Cal (Justin Bruening), was surprised when her cheating ex-husband, Bill (Chris Klein), whom she just divorced, asked for another shot. Fresh off her breakup with Ryan (Michael Shenefelt), Helen (Heather Headley) is more determined to fulfill her wish from her family and gets a slightly flirty visit from the town’s hottest sous chef Erik (Dion Johnstone). Meanwhile, over at Sullivan’s, Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott) gets quite the shock when Isaac (Chris Medlin) asks if she’s his birth mother.
The town of Serenity has been turned upside down, so we spoke to showrunner Sheryl J. Anderson all about what went down during the finale and what could be next for the characters if Netflix renews the drama for a second season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: That was quite the scene to end a season on! Why did you choose to end on that cliffhanger?
SHERYL J. ANDERSON: I appreciate everyone's eagerness to learn who's in the car. All I can share is that the writers put a lot of thought into who's in the car, and we looked forward to the opportunity to let y'all know who it is.
We know the answers to all the questions that we asked, including who the passenger is. We didn't do anything for shock value, we wanted to find an organic and to the season that was climactic because that's how you should end the season. It's organic in terms of all of our characters, the journeys that they've been on over the course of the season and, if we're fortunate enough to have a second season, questions that we'd be eager and excited to explore. How the events of that night propel everybody forward.
We genuinely wanted to leave people with questions to ponder until we can come back together again.
We begin the series with Maddie being sad about the end of her marriage. How has she changed over the course of season one?
A lot of what Maddie grapples with in the course of this season is how to redefine herself as her marriage ends. Maddie’s a strong, resourceful woman who has tremendous support from her mom and from her friends. As she leaves the marriage and charts a new course, we wanted to make sure that it wasn't just "who am I going to date next?" but it was genuinely, what kind of mom do I want to be going forward? What kind of friends? What kind of daughter? And what's my place in the landscape of Serenity as I move forward as a single woman? I'm divorced and I know there's a lot you have to unpack over time at the end of a long relationship and she hasn't unpacked it all.
Is Isaac Diana Sue’s son, or is that a question that still needs to be answered? They have such a wonderful relationship!
Well, that's another question that we encourage people to ponder while we're waiting to come back again. Isaac’s search is only one part of his journey in Serenity. So whatever the answer may be, I think that fans will be delighted to see him continue to carve out a place in town for himself.
There’s been a slow burn in terms of a potential Helen-Erik relationship. How do you feel about the dynamic between those two characters? Also, what’s next for Helen?
I adore Heather and Dion as actors and I love the chemistry that they brought to the Helen and Eric relationship. And. I'm thrilled that people are rooting for them to get together. I understand that completely, I think they'd be fabulous couple, but the course of love is rarely smooth, especially on television.
Helen's longing for a family and how that family will be defined – because you can define family so many ways – is a search that everybody can identify with. In terms of the things we yearn for in life and the things that elude us, at least in the moment, and the faith and strength and resilience it takes to keep going after your dream, whether that dream is a family or professional goal or an artistic goal.
I love Helen as a character because she's so compassionate and so driven and so eager to help others. As Pastor June points out to her, those are the kind of really admirable people in our lives that sometimes forget to take care of their own needs as they're caring for everybody around them. We will continue to examine Helen trying to strike that balance.
Let's talk about Jaime Lynn Spears as Noreen! Have we seen the last of her?
I would love to have Noreen return to Serenity. We had a core philosophy in the writers’ room that no one in Serenity is beyond redemption. People make mistakes, that's life. We were more interested in looking at how people fight their way back from bad choices, bad decisions, rather than have people pretend that everything they've done is okay. I'm glad that people are understanding that Noreen’s trying to sort out where she is and what the future might mean for herself and the child and all the lives they're connected to.
There are so many great recurring characters in the town. Are there characters living in the town you are excited to feature more prominently?
I love everybody in Serenity. We would gladly spend as much time as possible with all of them. We worked really hard to give everybody a full dimensionality, even if we only spend a little bit of time with them. It builds out the fabric of the community. The people with whom we spend less time are still full-fledged citizens of Serenity, and we want them to be as multi-layered as the Magnolias and the kids and all the core characters that we spend tons of time with. Another one of our main philosophies in the writers’ room was we want everyone to see themselves in Serenity.
How did you and the writers feel about how the chemistry of the Magnolias came through on the screen?
This began as a series about the power of female friendship, so the three ladies and their interaction is key and we wanted to show that friendship isn't just being there to celebrate with people. Real friendship is being there to laugh, to cry, to mourn, to lift up, to encourage, and sometimes to pick up and carry somebody when they just can't go forward on their own.
We are thrilled that the three actresses not only embody that fully, but you can really feel how they connected artistically and personally. The Margaritas nights to me are the heart, the beating heart of the series, because you see them coming together to share to work things out, and what a gift to have those kinds of friendships in your lives.
While the show hasn't officially been renewed, what should we expect from a season 2?
It is absolutely our intention that season 2 will answer questions, but, I've got to warn you, there will be new questions, too. I would hope viewers will be just as invested in the answers to the new set of questions and in the further growth of the citizens of Serenity that you've come to love.
What I'd like to say to viewers is we so appreciate the passion and the investments. We really did not mean to upset anybody, we just wanted to leave you with questions that you can ponder, that you can discuss in your own Margaritas night, that you can mull over while we're waiting and hoping to hear about a season 2.
Sweet Magnolias is available to stream now on Netflix.