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Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change” Highlights

Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change” Spoilers Ahead

Sweet Magnolias. (L to R) Heather Headley as Helen Decatur, Brooke Elliott as Dana Sue Sullivan, Joanna Garcia Swisher as Maddie Townsend in episode 203 of Sweet Magnolias 2x03
Cr. Richard Ducree/Netflix © 2021

The performances on this episode proved that Sweet Magnolias is the kind of show to take seriously. Often, when a show is credited as a “feel good” like this, and there are dramatic bends throughout, viewers deem them less prestigious than certain dramas. The academy overlooks performers in shows like this, and the actors deserving of more accolades go unnoticed. But that’s not the case because, if anything, “The More Things Change” showcases that this show wants to have critical conversations with its audience, and it wants to make it apparent that pain is a part of life.

It’s imperative to address that what the show’s tackling at this moment is something tragically familiar in the lives of women, but still, the media seldom addresses it. Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change” puts Helen Decatur through the wringer, and in doing so, it shows the audience the strength in numbers and women. It also reminds us that strong women aren’t invincible, and their vulnerability is a resilience we need to note.

We’re at a place where it feels like this show is continuing to evolve these characters by placing them in both ugly and rewarding situations, which isn’t a combination we get often, and yet somehow, it works right now. This isn’t drama for the sake of drama.

Helen, Dear Heart. Erik and Everything

Helen Decatur in Sweet Magnolias 2x03
©Netflix

Helen Decatur deserves the world, and Helen Decatur deserves to be a mother. But from the moment she announced her pregnancy, I almost knew she’d lose the baby. We can never explain why these things happen, but far too many women have experiences with it, and as tough as it is, seeing it on our screens reveals that no one’s alone in it—even when they’re alone through their pain.

Someone give Heather Headley all the awards for her crushing performance because every tear she spilled felt like a dagger to the chest. The heart she brings to life, the trauma she conveys, and all the painful steps were utterly gut-wrenching. It was almost unbearable to watch from the moment she stepped out of the bathroom to the second she closed the door in the end.

Helen has always been the character who’s had everything figured out. She’s the one who’s been like an anchor to everyone else, and as Dana Sue said in “Casseroles and Casualties,” being the strong one is exhausting—it is. Helen Decatur shows us precisely what that means because sometimes, they are the very same people who have trouble letting others take care of them. And how we’ll see that come to life is something I’m grateful the series is bringing in because it’s a brilliant reminder of the fact that strength isn’t stoicism, but strength is putting one foot forward when all you want to do is scream. Strength is perseverance.

And right alongside Heather Headley in astounding performances is everything Dion Johnstone carried to life as he showed us more of his heartache without speaking a word about it. There’s a lot to unpack here, and we’re going to with the next few episodes but noting how this series continues to allow its men to grow too is terrific.

Failure and Rage

Sweet Magnolias. (L to R) Justin Bruening as Cal Maddox, Joanna Garcia Swisher as Maddie Townsend in episode 203 of Sweet Magnolias.
Cr. Richard Ducree/Netflix © 2021

Anger does too much damage to a relationship, but talking about it matters for now. I’m not going to pretend like I’m not worried about Cal’s future, but what I’m not concerned about is that they’re going to make it through no matter what follows. If anger could be triggered still, then there’s more work to be done, and since this show isn’t afraid of writing in the importance of therapy, they should also bring in anger management because that’s not something we often see on our screens.

Still, all of these trials make Cal that much more riveting now—he’s no longer just the pretty boy, but bringing in his past to add layers makes it much easier to appreciate him. We’ve always known he’s one of the good ones, but ultimately, seeing that come to pass through his transparency and darkness that he’s fought through grounds him more. Beginning to talk about his past is a step right now, and it’s an important one.

Sullivan Family Feels? Yes, please.

Ronnie Sullivan, Annie Sullivan, and Dana Sue Sullivan in Sweet Magnolias 2x03
©Netflix

Get it, Dana Sue. While there’s nothing more I can’t stand than an overdramatic display of testosterone and two men fighting for a woman, I appreciate Ronnie making it clear that he isn’t going anywhere. He’s diligently trying, and we’re seeing the beginning of it in a way that’s making me root for them even harder than I would’ve had we just dove in headfirst. And while kids should stay in their lane sometimes, Annie has a right to call her mother out because she needs to choose between the men in their lives.

Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change” ends with an incredibly jarring scene because it’s hard to imagine that Kyle feels that much safer with Noreen than a therapist like Ashley. While I’m all for them attempting to bring her back into the series in a healthy way, and I get that there was a familial connection there, it’s still bizarre. But what’s fascinating is that it shows us that Kyle still has a lot of learning to do. They all do, and that includes Noreen. 

Pour it Out and Further Thoughts

  • I always forget that people take high school sports games very seriously.
  • Ty and Kyle need some ice cream and to use their words.
  • We’re all grumpy, Kyle. It’s all good. You really aren’t alone, kid. Promise.
  • Have I mentioned that I really like Ronnie?
  • I do not care about this show’s dramatic politics, but I need the Magnolias to succeed in everything.
  • Cece and Ty aren’t frustrating me as much as they did last season and that’s always a good thing, right? I’m sure most of us ship Annie and Ty, but this progression and growth is much better in building something stronger for the future. I just need these women to be friends.
  • The conversation between Maddie and Trotter? A Christian-based town having this much love and true appreciation for the LGBTQ community warms my heart so much. This is what loving your neighbor truly looks like. Cue the tears

Now streaming on Netflix: What are your thoughts on Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change?” Let us know in the comments below.

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Gissane Sophia View All

Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.

She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.

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