This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, Sweet Magnolias wouldn’t exist. We stand with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.
Sweet Magnolias 3×01 “Meaning to Tell You” is a welcome return to Serenity that feels like a warm blanket for the soul as Helen, Maddie and Dana Sue welcome us back with the same grace, kindness and love they give each other in every respect. And though that doesn’t always mean we agree with every decision they make; it does mean this show, their friends – and us, will probably give them the benefit of the doubt as the storylines develop. Even when it might be a little hard.
And Ryan Wingate is a little hard, we’re not gonna lie.
But let us talk about the first episode of Season 3 and check in on our 3 main ladies as we discuss “Meaning to Tell You”:
A WORK IN PROGRESS
The relationship between Dana Sue and Ronnie is still, clearly, a work in progress. She thinks she trusts him, and she is clearly trying, but her first instinct isn’t to tell Ronnie things, and it’s hard to blame her. There is a lot of baggage there and you cannot just turn back the clock and forget a betrayal. If anything, their trust, their relationship, has to be repaired little by little, building block by building block.
And I’ll be the first to say this is my least favorite trope of all. I find it very, very hard to root for couples after a betrayal like Ronnie’s. But hey, the show is trying, and there are moments when if I squint, they almost make me want to root for them, so good on Sweet Magnolias. I still need a lot more time and a lot more actions. Just like Dana Sue, I just need proof. Everyone’s skittish around here!
But I do believe she’s trying. I do believe he’s trying. I also do believe there’s probably more hardship – not just in the form of family drama (hello Kathy!), but probably other kinds of drama, coming their way to test them. That’s just the way of TV.
SHARING ISN’T A WEAKNESS
Cal and Maddie’s story has always been about this image of perfection in a way, an image of perfection that has always been very much a lie. Maddie was living a perfect life that turned out to be very much not so, and so was Cal, before he met her. And then, somehow, they didn’t learn the lesson. They tried, and they worked a little on themselves, but not to the point they needed to. And what Cal and Maddie both need is to look inward and heal themselves. But they don’t need to do that alone. They can be there to support each other as they grow in the ways they need to as individuals.
He needs to understand that getting a handle on his anger, finding coping mechanisms and even failing and getting back up are normal things, and the people who love you won’t just abandon you if you get things wrong. And Maddie needs to understand that it isn’t on her to fix everyone else, to know everything, to be all at all times. Sometimes she can just be Maddie, for Maddie. That’s okay, no, that’s necessary. And both these lessons are hard lessons for people who have lived their entire lives doing the absolute opposite. But the good thing is, they both now have partners who will be there to remind them that they don’t have to make sacrifices all the time. They don’t have to pretend all is well one hundred percent all the time.
And it’s okay to work on yourself. No, it’s not just okay, it’s a good thing.
THAT’S ALL I NEED TO KNOW
To be kinda honest, it’s a little bit of a nice change of pace to see Helen being the one who’s a little bit of a mess to start off this season. Not that I like it, but Helen deserves to be messy too. She’s kept it together for far too long, if she wants her turn in the complicated love life wheel, absolutely no one should judge her. I mean, I’m going to judge Ryan Wingate, not her.
But I will say, I’m not sure what exactly she was expecting from Erik Whitley other than his reaction at the end. Because yeah, all he needed to know was that she told Ryan that she had to think about it. If she were fully in with Erik, there would have been nothing to think about, that’s it. If she had something to think about, well …that’s all Erik needs to know. And good for Erik too, because that’s him setting a boundary. That’s him putting himself and his needs first. I respect that, and I have to believe Helen will too. Perhaps, it will even make her rethink if flaky Ryan Wingate is truly what she wants.
Honestly, though, the one good thing that can come out of this is Helen truly choosing Erik. Not because Ryan left her. Not because he wasn’t around. But because she realizes she wants Erik, fully wants him, not Ryan. Now that’s the romance we want to see.
Things I think I think:
- The darndest thing is, I get Cal. It’s easier to blame yourself.
- Helen, Erik is seeing right through you.
- It’s hard to trust Dana Sue and Ronnie, isn’t it?
- Ty’s such a good kid. And it’s great to see him get along with Kyle, too. The wholesome family content we deserve.
- Ryan Wingate can go to hell. Sincerely.
- No conversation about Isaac will ever feel normal anymore, nope. But I love that Maddie is trying.
- Trotter, you cinnamon roll of a man.
- “Strong people do that. They forget that sharing isn’t a weakness.”
- Look, I’ll take the complicated family over Ronnie’s drama being with another woman.
- I’m on Maddie’s side, Helen! Ryan Wingate is no good.
- “Share without editing” – I love you, Erik.
- What kind of people has Cal been around that just …stop loving you after one mistake?
- Bill and Kathy? Seriously?
- Yes, Helen, that’s all Erik needs to know. Yes. What did you expect?
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Sweet Magnolias 3×01 “Meaning to Tell You”? Share with us in the comments below!