Sweet Magnolias so far is having a good run, with the third season out for fans of the three independent women living in Serenity, South Carolina, and how the town has shaped their personalities. The core theme of this romantic drama is the inherent goodness of not just the lead female protagonists but also the supporting characters. The writers of the show went out of their way to portray the whole town as a virtuous place, whose residents immediately come to help those in need. It made us wonder how the readers could explore more shows in the same genre, older and new ones, to understand the nuances of each show. A comparative article such as this will help the readers pick how most of them are either similar or different from Sweet Magnolias. Here’s a list:
Full House (1987)
Let’s go back in time. The 1987 ABC show Full House ran on the channel for eight straight years. It is about three friends who come together to raise the three daughters of one of the friends on the occasion of his wife’s passing. What makes the show better is how three grown men take up the responsibility of raising girls at a time when women still faced a lot of problems when it came to their identity outside of their homes and what they were meant for. At certain junctures, it also showcases the importance of family and tapping into the goodness of people.
Sweet Magnolias may not be exactly like this show, but it was hard not to reminisce about Full House because the core of both shows is that they are feel-good family entertainers where the whole community comes together to sort out solutions for the problems at hand. Though Sweet Magnolias did not take the comedic route, Full House was known for its comedy, for the show was headlined by two prominent comedians of that time, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier. Both shows will have you smiling throughout.
Ginny and Georgia (2021)
Ginny and Georgia, another Netflix original, is, as you know, about a mother-daughter duo who have reached a new town, hoping to finally settle down. Despite its murky setup, this show is a romantic drama as well as a good family entertainer that talks about women of a certain age maneuvering through life, a theme that is consistent in Sweet Magnolias as well. Women in both shows are fiercely independent and do not settle for anything that will not benefit their personalities.
The lead characters in both shows are from the southern part of America. Georgia is from Alabama, and the women in Sweet Magnolias are from South Carolina. Though Sweet Magnolias did not cover a lot of harsh topics surrounding women, Ginny and Georgia went ahead and spoke about abuse and loss of identity. The children and their struggles in Ginny and Georgia have been portrayed realistically. Meanwhile, Sweet Magnolias barely touched the tip of the iceberg concerning the issues teenagers face. Both shows are unique in their own way, and that’s why you need to watch them.
Ted Lasso (2020)
AppleTV forayed into making original television shows, and one of their first ones happened to be Ted Lasso, which was the story of an optimistic football coach who took up the job of coaching a local British football team. The essential positive vibes of the coach are infectious, to say the least, and that is what makes Ted Lasso an endearing watch that uplifts your mood immediately. Unlike Sweet Magnolias, where there were no layers or complexity given to any of the leads or supporting characters as to why they have a moral upper hand and are righteous all the time, Ted Lasso here is a superior piece of work mainly because of the superlative writing that does not undermine any characters.
The characters in Sweet Magnolias hardly had shades of gray. They were always either good or plain unlikeable. The presence of strong female leads in both shows does draw similarities, but their treatment is different. While Helen, Maddie, and Dana Sue come across women who are supposed to be kindhearted and supportive all the time, which eventually got redundant after a point, Rebecca Welton, as the owner of the football team, has been given layers of complexity to work on, going from hating the team to wanting them to win. Her arc is well-defined.
The brand-new Apple TV original, which recently concluded its first season, is about two former best friends getting in touch with each other because one of them has just gotten divorced. Sylvia and Will are the epitome of good friends who are candid, loving, and brutally honest with each other. This kind of friendship is what makes the show a decent watch, if not the best. Sweet Magnolias briefly explored the friction between the three women, but that was resolved quicker than anticipated. In Platonic, Sylvia and Will go through multiple disagreements and arguments, only for them to go back to each other for their honest opinions. This is what long-term friendship is all about. The two also hung out with their respective partners at one point to make their friendship stronger.
One redeeming aspect of Platonic is that there was never any insinuation that Sylvia and Will were in love in the past, and that one of them still has feelings for the other. It was a refreshing change of pace to see a man and a woman being just friends and offering advice to each other when it comes to dating people of the opposite gender. In Sweet Magnolias, the relationship that Ty shares with Annie is confusing, to say the least. They were friends who, at various points in three seasons, had feelings for each other but never conveyed them. The writers could have defined this relationship instead of letting it hang until the end of season three. There were no definite answers regarding whether Annie and Ty had real feelings or if it was just infatuation. “Will they or won’t they” does not work if the writers do not bother to give their relationship a chance to flourish into love. In comparison, Platonic did a far better job of defining friendships than Sweet Magnolias.
Gilmore Girls (2000)
Saving the best for last. No other show defines the feel-good factors of small-town America coupled with complex characters better than Gilmore Girls. This show also brings to the table the generational gap, humor, and the good old mother-daughter relationship. Gilmore Girls was a female centric show way before the genre became a thing, and the reason for its similarity with Sweet Magnolias is the assertiveness with which it appraised the concept of female bonding and why it is essential to keep women happy and content. Having supportive women around us in the form of friends, daughters, and mothers only enriches our lives. These are some of the appealing factors that attract the female crowd to continue watching these shows and probably inspire them in some way to be supportive of women around them and be less judgmental of their life choices.
But what makes Gilmore Girls a superior show in comparison to Sweet Magnolias is the presence of a complex conflict and its working around in various shapes and forms, making it interesting every single time. The Emily and Lorelai Gilmore clashes were an underlying theme of the show, but the writers made sure not to make them needless until the show concluded. Meanwhile, in Sweet Magnolias, the conflicts were superficially handled. The quick resolve between friends makes it seem the writers never wanted to explore the idea of friends having difficult conversations. Gilmore Girls is a far better show to watch if you want to understand what happens when female creators and writers are given a chance to expand on their stories.
Feel-good shows are a favorite genre for many because of the lighthearted nature of the stories. The television shows mentioned above are some of the writers’ favorites, and this is her compilation and opinion. If you want to add your favorite shows in this genre, please feel free to share with us.