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 3×03 “The Searchers” is a little bit of a fun interlude that ends with a bang – for Erik, for the Major, and in some ways, for Serenity. But before Kathy’s kinda long leadup to what is sure to be chaos, there is a nice moment of quiet for the one couple we care about, the other that’s trying to make us care about them, and Helen and you-know-who.
There are also some reminders of what could be between Ty and Annie, and even when they’re fighting, of the bond that Maddie, Dana Sue and Helen share. And there’s a scavenger hunt that makes very little sense and that everyone sort of pretends they care about winning, even though, in Serenity, people are only competitive up to a point.
But above all, there’s Cal and Maddie, and what they’re building together, even when they can’t touch. So let us go into that, and into the rest of the romances in Sweet Magnolias 3×03 “The Searchers”:
The best thing about Maddie and Cal so far this season is that they’ve put into practice the things they discussed at the beginning of the season. Cal is trying, he really is, you can see him not just in his face, you can see it in his posture, in the way he holds himself. He’s trying to reign himself in – his homework, but he’s also trying to honor what Maddie asked for, open communication.
That’s why he shared about his dad. It’s not just about what Cal needs, and he recognizes that. A partnership requires two people, and he’s trying to meet her in the middle. So is Maddie, who is trying very hard to respect Cal’s boundaries, even if a large part of her just wants to say “hey, I think this friendship thing is kinda silly, let’s just make out.” But he asked for it, and he clearly thinks it’s something important, and for his sake, Maddie will try.
It’s very adult of them, and a very good sign for the relationship they can have in the future. Because they’re no longer just pretending things are fine all the time, or just there for each other only when it’s easy. Instead, they’re helping each other through things, even during the bad days – for both of them. And that’s part of being in a relationship. Sometimes both of you will have bad days at the same time, and you will need to lean on each other a bit. It’s all about open communication and finding a way to balance who needs what and when.
Then there are the second chance couples, Dana Sue and Ronnie and Helen and Ryan. My feelings for Helen and Ryan have already been established, so I’m not going to go on about how wrong I think their relationship is going to go. Instead, I’m going to focus on how well I think the show is handling Dana Sue and Ronnie, a relationship I didn’t think could work out, and one I still am not completely sold on, but that I think on paper, works pretty well.
You can see that they’re both trying. They’re not there yet, but they are much farther along than Helen and Ryan. Second chances require, well …time. It’s not just a matter of saying I’ve changed and things will be better from now on. Ronnie has to prove it. Dana Sue has to prove that she’s willing to forgive him, to have the relationship they both want to have. Otherwise, what’s the point of trying?
The same has to be true of Helen and Ryan, too. Now, I don’t think Helen loves Ryan as much as she loves the idea of Ryan that she’s been holding onto for so long. But perhaps she was never going to know that for sure until she tried to love Ryan. Now, I just wish she would hurry up, because I’m tired of seeing Erik in pain, I really am. I kinda want him to leave and if the world burns, well, it burns. He deserves better.
Things I think I think:
- Yeah, sure, this washing cars together thing isn’t foreplay, nah.
- And then there’s Ronnie and Dana Sue making out.
- God, and then Helen and Ryan. Someone save me.
- You know what, Erik? Kathy might be the devil, but you should leave.
- Ronnie literally brought popcorn. And I can’t even say I blame him. More often than I would have expected this season, I’m just on Ronnie’s side.
- I’ll give Ryan this, Ty did diffuse that fight really well.
- That was a really good convo between Cal and Maddie, about this dad.
- Okay Trent, don’t let the door hit you on your way out?
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Sweet Magnolias 3×03 “The Searchers”? Share with us in the comments below!