‘Sweet Magnolias’ 1×02 Rewatch: ‘A United Front’

If there’s anything that’s been good to come out of quarantine, it’s that I was introduced to one of my new favorite shows: Sweet Magnolias.

The Netflix show was the perfect answer to my quarantine blues, introducing me to three amazing, strong, independent, outspoken women that had their own unique stories to tell. Through it all — the good, the bad and the downright disheartening — they had each other to lean on through it all.

But Sweet Magnolias was more than just our three leading Sweet Magnolias. There were a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, including the kids in Ty, Annie and Kyle, as well as the charming Erik Whitley that breathed life into this wonderful show.

And because I love this show so much, I decided to do a rewatch — especially now that Netflix has finally renewed Sweet Magnolias for a second season — complete with a review.

So let’s revisit the second episode of Sweet Magnolias, “A United Front,” where our ladies started to get their business underway, where Helen works her magic, Dana Sue struggles with stress, Ty handles his parents’ separation about as well as you’d think and Maddie finds a cute flirtation with Cal.

It’s nice to have Helen Decatur on your side

From the start, Helen Decatur has been my favorite character on Sweet Magnolias. She’s the kind of woman who is an open book — she’s going to say what she feels and mean what she says. And she’s someone you know you can always depend on.

For Helen, she spent a week putting a family back together after a tragic accident left two little girls orphaned. Helen was responsible for putting them with the best guardian — Charlotte, the deceased mother’s sister or Norm, the girls’ godfather. And it certainly wasn’t easy at first.

Charlotte appeared to be the perfect person for the girls, with all of that talk about the importance of family and children making someone’s life whole. But once we met Norm, it was clear that this was someone with a vested interest in Addy and Avery. He went on trips with the girls, spoiled them at the holidays and took an interest in their hobbies. And once Norm reveals that Charlotte essentially wants the girls for the money she’d get, Helen checks in with Annie, who tells her everything about the girls that Norm had — and Annie had no idea who Charlotte was, a clear indication she wasn’t an active part of their lives like Norm.

So Helen chooses Norm as the girls’ legal guardian, and it’s clear she made the right choice. Norm is currently a bachelor, someone that hasn’t been able to maintain a relationship because of the stresses of work. But he’s always wanted to be a father. And now he gets to. You could see Helen biting back emotions as he tells her this, which causes her to retreat to the kitchen to collect herself. For as much as Helen is an open book, she does try to remain strong for everyone, which can cause her to temporarily close a page.

Helen spent the last week putting a family back together. But she wonders: “If I’m good at this, why am I not able to put a family together for myself?” Helen acknowledges that she might have time, but she doesn’t have prospects. She’s convinced her husband isn’t in Serenity. But maybe he is. Paging Erik Whitley.

Ty is handling his parents’ divorce about as well as you’d think

As a child of divorce, something I’m thankful for is that it happened when I was so young that I didn’t have to experience that as a teenager. It also helps that my dad didn’t have an affair with a local nurse and knock her up, choosing to stand by said nurse rather than his family. That’s Bill Townsend, who continues to stress how he’s “trying to do the right thing” when the fact that he didn’t do the right thing is the reason the Townsends are in the mess they’re currently in.

As you’d expect, Ty isn’t exactly handling this divorce well. He’s struggling in school with academics and it’s even seeped through into his baseball. And who can blame him? His dad cheated on his mom, knocked the other woman up, left his family but still remains in town where everyone can watch the events unfold like a massive car crash.

A teenager like Ty has enough on his plate between balancing being a high school student, student athlete and being a teenager. But throwing in family drama that’s being broadcast live in front of the entire town — and knowing that everyone is talking about you and your family behind your back or feeling sorry for you — it’s hard not to think about something like that.

And Ty’s baseball future is in jeopardy, which prompts Coach Maddox to get involved. Sure, Ty’s going through a lot, but it’s affecting his game, which affect the team. Cal wants to help fix things for Ty, especially as Ty’s starting spot and position on the team are in jeopardy.

Look no further than his most recent baseball game, where he could literally feel everyone looking at his dad and Noreen in the stands and then looking at him, judging everything. That kind of stress is bound to affect Ty, and it’s not his fault. But once Bill and Noreen leave, you can see an immediate weight lifted off Ty. And he can just play ball without worrying about everything else.

While Ty certainly has had it rough, there was a moment where you saw that he realized it could be worse. He does have an amazing, caring mother to look out for him. Even if he lost his dad, he still has one parent that cares.

Dana Sue’s stress

There’s nothing like stress to throw you out of whack. And speaking from experience, it’s enough to make you forget things you normally wouldn’t or lash out at others. Which is where we found Dana Sue after she fired her sous chef Brad for stealing from her. Simply put, Dana Sue is this close to breaking. She’s overworked, down a sous chef, short tempered and it’s not exactly making for a healthy work environment.

Which is where the marvelous Erik Whitley comes in. He sees and feels Dana Sue’s stress, and he wants to help her as much as he can. While Dana Sue is too stressed to appreciate him at the start, she soon comes around. After Erik makes Dana Sue an array of dishes that he designed for her new menu, she realizes that she’s been worrying for nothing. She’s been focused on finding the perfect replacement for Brad when she didn’t notice that the perfect sous chef was right in front of her the whole time. Erik gets the job, but more importantly he shows that he’s going to be what Brad never was for Dana Sue — her right-hand man, her help and have her back.

The flirtation begins with Maddie & Cal

In case you were dozing off during the pilot and couldn’t see it, this second episode of Sweet Magnolias made it damn clear that there is some mad flirting happening between Maddie and Cal. This is going to be our first couple, ladies and gents. After Cal found out what Bill did to Maddie and her family, it was almost like he was given the go-ahead to starting flirting. Which is good, because there was an obvious spark between them from the beginning.

The only problem is that Cal is Ty’s baseball coach, and Ty’s in the middle of his biggest challenge yet in dealing with his parents’ divorce. Oh, and Maddie is going to get divorced, which means that she’s probably not ready to get involved with anyone so soon. And I’m convinced that’s why it takes so long for Cal to finally make a move. He’s trying to respect her space and give her time. Although after watching this second episode — and watching everyone in the restaurant watching Maddie and Cal — you knew that they were going to happen. It was always just a matter of when.

The teenage love square

There’s nothing like teenage romance to make things seem more serious than they actually are. We’ve all been there. The drama just takes on extra life, it seems. And there is certainly drama that unfolded in season 1, and we started to get the first look at in this second episode.

Annie likes Ty, whose younger brother is Kyle, who likes Annie, who likes Ty, who is liked by CeCe.

Yep, that’s the gist of it.

While Annie is still pining after Ty, we start to see more of Kyle’s crush on Annie. Kyle, the classic middle child, can feel invisible at times. And he’s desperate to impress Annie, even going so far as to prank CeCe to get a smile out of Annie. Speaking of, we’re introduced to CeCe, your typical popular girl that wants Ty, the team’s star pitcher, to notice her. She tries to sue Kyle to get to Ty, which ends up backfiring. Still, CeCe made it clear she likes Ty. And we know this isn’t the last of that.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my Sweet Magnolias rewatch next Saturday.

Sweet Magnolias is streaming on Netflix and season 2 is coming soon.

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