Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change” is a literal gut-punch. There’s no other way to explain the emotions, the loss, the sense that things can never be okay again that this episode gives us. But, even in the worst of times, the people we love can be a light in the darkness, and that’s also what this episode is about.
For Helen, who has Maddie and Dana Sue, and yes, also Erik. They don’t make it all better, no. Nothing can do that. Pain demands to be felt, and though having people around can be a balm, nothing can truly take away your pain.
For Kyle, who is struggling and hurting people around him in his struggles, but who has found in Noreen someone he feels understands him. Someone he can turn to when he’s feeling low.
For Dana Sue, who has to figure out if she can put herself out there again, if she can trust, if she should trust. And for everyone around them, trying to keep others afloat, while keeping themselves afloat.
So, let’s talk about the characters and their pain as we discuss Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change”
HELPING EACH OTHER
This episode is truly about people helping each other. Helen goes through one of the worst losses you can go through, but she isn’t alone. She’s got someone to take her to the hospital, someone to bring her food, someone to give her a hug and someone to distract her. That doesn’t make it okay, of course. But it’s much, much better than having no one.
Maddie, Dana Sue and Erik are all there in different ways, and that’s okay. We don’t just need one type of friend, and yes, we can be friends with people who will end up being more than friends later. All in due time, and right now, it’s time for Helen to let others pamper her, and to heal.
Kyle, meanwhile, is acting like he indeed has no one. Like Noreen is the only one who understands him, the only one that can. But Kyle has no one else to blame for the position he’s in but himself. Sure, other people carry their own blames, including Ty, but Kyle made the wrong decision and afterwards, made the decision to push everyone away. That part is on him, no one else.
Around him, however, people are finding better ways. Cal and Ty are there for each other, in a way that might prove beneficial for both. It’s easy to see Ty hasn’t had the best parental role model, and it’s just as easy to see that Cal has been alone for too long. Which just means that the two of them have a lot they can help each other with. It might ground Cal to have someone like Ty look up to him, and just having someone to look up to who is there, and who cares, will be good for Ty.
And we haven’t even gone into Ronnie trying to get back with Dana Sue, and what that means. Because it’s clear Ronnie wants his family back, wants the life he had before. But he was the one that jeopardized that, and trusting him again is a big ask. Except that’s what Dana Sue does at the end of Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change.” She takes a leap of faith.
Connections don’t guarantee happy endings. We can love people and we can be there for them, and they can still be in pain. We can still be in pain. And they — and us — can still mess up. But a life lived with people is infinitely better than a life lived alone.
TAKE THE TIME IT TAKES
We’ve talked about Helen as we discussed the support from the people around her, but it’s important to take some time to talk about just Helen, and about what she’s going through. Because what Helen went through in Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change” isn’t just gut-wrenching, it’s also the kind of pain many women feel the need to keep inside, because society has made us feel ashamed of expressing our pain, but particularly, this pain.
That Sweet Magnolias went here with Helen feels unfair, but since when is life fair? And the visibility a storyline like this on a show brings to the issue can be life changing. If Sweet Magnolias can help tear down the stigma around something that happens to many women, then they will have done a great thing.
But for Helen, it still sucks. And the best thing the show can do — character wise, and visibility wise, is allow her the chance to feel that pain. The chance to grieve. Women routinely have to get up and pretend they are okay, even when they’re not. Even when their hearts are breaking. Helen doesn’t have to be one of those, not to us. We can and should be there for every step of this pain, and recovery.
And the same goes for Kyle.
We’ve seen the bad. We’ve love to also see how people get through the bad times, with a little help from their friends.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Sweet Magnolias 2×03 “The More Things Change”? Share with us in the comments below!
Sweet Magnolias season 2 is available to stream on Netflix.