Sweet Magnolias debuted on Netflix this week to positive acclaim and ended with a myriad of cliffhangers leaving fans itching for a season 2. The Netflix Original was developed into a series by Sheryl J. Anderson (Charmed) and based on a novel of the same name by Sherryl Woods. Set in the fictional South Carolina town of Serenity, Sweet Magnolias follows three strong-willed best friends with mysterious pasts, but one of the cliffhangers at the end of season 1 might have a less obvious answer than the show seems to imply.
Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliott), and Helen Decatur (Heather Headley) have been best friends since childhood despite a myriad of ups, downs, and time apart, and they navigate motherhood, complicated love lives, and even being business partners together. While the audience is provided glimpses into each woman’s past, much of Dana Sue’s life remains a mystery. She briefly mentions her time spent outside of Serenity, which was filled with partying and getting into trouble. Meanwhile, Dana Sue’s employee, Isaac (Chris Medlen), is a newcomer to town, and at first his intentions are unclear. In episode 6, viewers find out that Isaac is adopted and came to town in search of his birth parents.
The only information Isaac has about his birth parents is that he was born in Serenity, and he’s of mixed race. Isaac becomes convinced that he’s found his birth parents when Dana Sue’s old friend Micah Harrison (Marland Burke) comes to town in the season finale. He thinks he could be a child that Micah and Dana Sue had together out of wedlock, although Isaac doesn’t have any evidence of that. In the final few minutes of the episode, he confronts Dana Sue and asks her if she is his mother. Before she gets a chance to answer, the phone rings, and the audience is left hanging as Dana Sue rushes to be side by side with Maddie and Helen. Her most likely answer to Isaac would have been that she is not his birth mother. While Dana Sue proving to be Isaac’s mom would provide the closure he’s desperately seeking, it would be too simple of an answer from a show that builds drama at every turn.
While Isaac is desperate to find his birth parents, that desperation clouds his judgment. In episode 6, he thought for a moment that his coworker Chef Erik Whitley (Dione Johnstown) could be his father, but Erik quickly dashed Isaac’s suspicions. The most likely possibility instead, is that his mother is Peggy Martin (Brittany Smith), the nosy reporter always snooping around. Peggy comes across as a villain through much of the season, but the show signals that she has a deep, unexplored pain. In the finale, Peggy alludes to a major heartbreak younger in life, even hinting that Helen’s ex, Ryan Wingate (Michael Shenefelt) may be the cause of her pain and resentment towards Helen. Isaac has a similar glimmer of constant curiosity like Peggy, and he’s one of the only people in Serenity who seems to enjoy her presence. While she may not be the most obvious choice as Isaac’s mother, that makes her all the more likely candidate.
Dana Sue has a soft, motherly approach towards her workers and family alike, so Isaac’s confusion and hope is not a surprise. Unfortunately, Isaac will most likely experience more disappointment if and when Season 2 of Sweet Magnolias comes out.
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