Sweet Magnolias boss breaks down all the cliffhangers in season 2
Sweet Magnolias (TV series)
- TV Show
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sweet Magnolias season 2.
Sweet Magnolias season 2 didn't end in a car accident, but there were several shocking developments.
Plenty of surprises were handed to the Magnolias in the finale, which honored the life and death of the beloved Miss Frances (Cindy Karr). Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Helen (Heather Headley) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott) honored their dear friend's passing with the exact flair and heartwarming manner she would have wanted — but the celebration of life wasn't the only event in Serenity in the finale.
Ryan (Michael Shenefelt), who returns for his aunt's funeral, asks Helen to marry him just as she's moved on; a woman with a grudge against Dana Sue returns to town; and Bill (Chris Klein) delivers the devastating news to Maddie that he is Isaac's (Chris Medlin) biological father. Making Maddie's life even more complicated: Cal's (Justin Bruening) anger gets the best of him when he gets arrested after a fight at Sullivan's. Serenity ended the season on a not-so-serene note.
EW spoke to showrunner Sheryl J. Anderson about all those cliffhangers, the inspiration behind the complex stories of season 2, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's start with that final shocking moment where Ryan proposes to Helen, who is very much with Erik (Dion Johnstone). What was behind Ryan coming back in this way, and can you tease what's next for Helen?
SHERYL J. ANDERSON: The biggest thing she has to decide is what she's going to tell [Ryan], but we wanted to bring him back at a moment where his return would be most meaningful, and also disruptive, because that's what the drama is all about.
Having taken this journey together across season 2, we're at a moment where Helen and Erik are starting to find a balance between all the issues that both of them are dealing with. We have all experienced in our own lives meeting somebody amazing, but it's not the best time because you have a lot of other things going on. One of the things we wanted to highlight some is ... a true partnership. We thought it was a great opportunity to show what being with a thoughtful, considerate partner with their own baggage and issues might look like.
We wanted somebody to come and shake up that balance, and Ryan's the perfect one to do that. I hope to heave a season 3 to be able to figure that out. I know what she's going to say, but I wouldn't guess that timeline. If we're fortunate enough to have a season 3, that will be one of the chief topics at the beginning of the writers room.
What inspired the exploration of Cal's anger issues and his past?
In season 1, [Cal is] almost too good to be true, and we wanted to crack open why a man would work as hard to be charming, responsive and easygoing. Not that that's not in his heart, but he goes out of his way and we knew when we were writing him in season 1 that he had a lot of pain based on his past relationships. As we were looking at everything he had lost before he met Maddie, we were talking about the fact that a lesser man would have broken, so maybe he did too. We wanted to walk a careful line and make it clear that he had done enough work before he met Maddie. That he would never show that side to Maddie and the kids, and when that side finale does come out, it's in defense of Maddie.
Cal is at a very low point when the season ends with the loss of his job and getting arrested after fighting at the restaurant. What's next for him and Maddie?
In a potential third season, it's certainly something Cal needs to unpack and examine whether he has handled past events properly, why he lost it when not losing it is so important to him and what choices he can make going forward. Not just for himself, but also for the people he loves.
Maddie's core issue is that she thought she had found a bright, shiny, fabulous new relationship, but then flounders on the same rocks her marriage did, which is lack of honesty, lack of transparency and anger. If we have an opportunity to go forward [with season 3], there's a certain amount of soul searching [Maddie] has to do to find out how she ended up in another relationship where she wasn't getting the whole truth. Call is unintentionally triggering a lot of issues from her marriage with Bill.
When did you decide who would be Isaac's biological parents?
We deiced that before we wrote anything. We wanted to add somebody [in Isaac] who was going to shine an unexpected light on the kind of man Bill had been from early on, and also somebody who could bring in a "I'm new to town" perspective to things, but actually be deeply tied to the town.
When we started writing season 1, we wanted to look at what secret might exist that drove Peggy [Brittany L. Smith] to be somewhat separate from the ladies and eventually align herself with Mary Vaughn [Allison Gabriel]. Peggy is tough, but she's not cut from the same cloth Mary Vaughn is, she's much more like the Magnolias. A show like ours looks at how choices in your past continue to inform your present, and we wanted to look at if [giving Isaac up] was the choice we trace through to see how adult Peggy was created.
A big part of the Isaac reveal is the impact Bill Townsend will have on his kids. What can you share about how this reveal effects the other characters?
I hope to explore not only how that impacts the kids and their perception of Isaac, but also their perception of their dad, which they're still working through because of Noreen [Jamie Lynn Spears] and the divorce. How it effects their trust in other relationships in their lives, particularly with authority figures.
Tyler leaving baseball behind for now is a big change. What does this shift say about his story so far?
Both Carson and Logan did amazing jobs in season 2 with their portrayals of young men seeking complicated answers to hard questions. To a larger extent in the writers room, we see Kyle and Ty's searches as extensions of the ruptured relationship with their dad. In season 2, Tyler is talking to other adults in town and recognizing that he has other paternal figures that he can turn to and that he is not obligated to live his father's dream. Now that he's made that realization, it would be fabulous to have the opportunity to continue to explore that journey and see whether that takes him back to baseball of if it takes him in a completely unexpected direction.
Jackson had a redemption story of sorts. What did you want to explore with his story this season and is there a parallel between him and his mother Mary Vaughn?
With the parallel, our hope is certainly that you can see why Jackson is the way he is when you look at his parents. Jackson goes through a traumatic event as everybody does on prom night. Everybody would expect Ty to be upset, for the event to upset the trajectory of Kyle's life, but it hits Jackson hard and resonates really deeply. What we wanted to do with Jackson this season is show that there was a reason he acted the way he did in season 1. It's how he had been taught to act, and that façade has broken now. He sees the harm that he's done and he is eager to show people who he wants to be, and Annie helps him with that.
We have a mysterious new arrival in town with a grudge against Dana Sue. What can you share about who she is and what she wants?
Kathy has a past in Serenity and an agenda for the present that will impact everybody's future.
One of the reasons that we didn't bring a lot of new people into season 2 was [because] we have such an amazing ensemble. In looking at how to end season 2, and in the hopes of getting a season 3, we thought, 'wouldn't it be fun if it looks like everybody knows exactly what they have to grapple with going forward, then out of nowhere, here comes this meteor.' We wanted to indicate that if we come back, not everything is under control.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Sweet Magnolias season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
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