If you like any of the following — Hallmark movies, Southern charm, small town drama, heart-swelling romance, or stories about people starting over — you will definitely enjoy Netflix’s soapy new series Sweet Magnolias. It’s the TV equivalent of comfort food and is based on a series of books by Sherryl Woods, whose novels also inspired the popular Hallmark series Chesapeake Shores.
Joanna Garcia Swisher stars as Maddie, a soon-to-be divorced mom of three who is attempting to pick up the pieces of her life after her husband, Bill (Chris Klein, doing a Southern accent and frequently seen sporting khaki shorts), leaves her for Noreen (Jamie Lynn Spears, making her return to TV), the nurse he had an affair with. As Bill prepares to remarry and start a new family, Maddie struggles to deal with the fallout of his very public affair and being in the public eye, raising their kids — the oldest of whom is wrestling with his father’s infidelity — and opening a new spa in town with her best friends, Helen (Heather Headley) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott). Things start to look up for her, though, when she meets her son’s hunky new baseball coach, former Major Leaguer Cal Maddox (Justin Bruening), and sparks begin to fly.
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The 10-episode show is as sweet and romantic as its title implies, and it will likely catch on with the Hallmark crowd, because this is exactly the kind of soap Hallmark has purchased stock in and has been profiting from for years. But don’t let that description turn you off, because the show has several things in common with other shows and movies you likely love. Check them out below and find out why you should make Sweet Magnolias your next binge.
Watch it if you liked Hart of Dixie: While Sweet Magnolias doesn’t feature the comedy and pratfalls of The CW series starring Rachel Bilson, it does feature a similar sense of Southern charm. Everyone knows each other by name, neighbors are friendly — well, for the most part — and food plays a huge role in the show as Dana Sue is a chef and runs a popular restaurant in town. If you’re looking to escape into an idyllic setting where time seems to slow down and people enjoy life’s simple pleasures, Sweet Magnolias will do just that.
Watch it if you liked Virgin River: Sweet Magnolias has a healthy helping of romance, and like Mel at the center of Netflix’s other recent romantic drama, Maddie is also trying to start over and rebuild her life after a life-changing event. She too embarks on a new relationship with a local hunk, but the only difference is, she stays put in her hometown and he’s the new guy trying to woo her.
Watch it if you liked Gilmore Girls: If the small town atmosphere of Stars Hollow sucked you in, you will likely be charmed by the beautiful town of Serenity, South Carolina. Although everyone in town mostly appears to have their heads on straight and no one is too eccentric, there is a lovely sense of community that permeates everything about the show, and there is even a longtime restaurant establishment where everyone in town seems to congregate at least once an episode.
Watch if it you liked Steel Magnolias: The similar titles cannot be a coincidence; if the female friendships at the center of the classic film are what you’re looking for, you will find a lot to like about the deep, lifelong friendship that exists between Maddie, Heather, and Dana Sue, as the women meet up every week to enjoy margaritas and discuss the latest developments in their lives. No matter what is going on, the women always have each other, and have each other’s backs. The show is a great addition to on-screen depictions of female friendship.
Sweet Magnolias is now streaming on Netflix.