‘Sweet Magnolias’ Review: Season 3 Was *Definitely* Worth the Wait

Margarita, anyone?

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Sweet Magnolias Helen Dana Sue Maddie Season 3 CAT2

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Calling all of our sweet magnolias! Sweet Magnolias season three is streaming on Netflix and we don’t know about you, but we’ve been looking forward to this season ever since we watched that bombshell season two finale episode. Here’s everything you need to know about what happened last season and an honest review of Sweet Magnolias season three (including that ending).

Sweet Magnolias Season 2 Finale Recap

Season two of Sweet Magnolias left viewers on the edge of their seats. Not only did we see Cal (Justin Bruening) get arrested for punching a man in the face at Sullivan’s, but we also found ourselves in utter shock when Ryan (Michael Shenefelt) got down on one knee and popped the question to Helen (Heather Headley). So, what happens to Cal? Does Helen say “yes” to Ryan’s marriage proposal? Keep reading for some well-deserved answers.

Sweet Magnolias Season 3 Review

Much to our delight, the third season starts right where the previous left off: Helen’s house. At the start of the season, we’re taken back to the inside of Helen’s home, just moments after the big proposal. In episode one, Helen unlocks the door to her home and walks inside, and for a brief moment, we’re waiting to see who will follow her: Erik or Ryan. And to our’s Erik (Dion Johnstone) who enters the front door, with Cal right behind him (which had us breathing a sigh of relief to discover that he has been released from jail).

But when it comes time for Cal, Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott) to leave the house, Erik attempts to kiss Helen on the cheek before he departs, and she pulls away. So we couldn’t help but wonder: Did Helen say yes to Ryan’s proposal?

But thankfully, we learn later on in the episode that Helen told Ryan she would think about his offer. And from that moment on, Helen remains the main focus of this season, leaving fans wondering which man she will choose. In the end, she chooses—drumroll please—Ryan. But she doesn’t accept his marriage proposal right away. Throughout season three, fans have a chance to watch Helen and Ryan re-enter the “dating phase” of their relationship. By doing this, Ryan can prove to her that he’s ready to start a new life with her in Serenity. But things aren’t quite so simple.

Helen Sweet Magnolias S3 CAT

Choice of suitors aside, Helen is going through a lot. Season three heavily focuses on Helen grieving her unborn child. (Reminder: In the second season, Helen learns that she is pregnant, but she loses the baby due to having a miscarriage.) And if some viewers found it difficult to watch Helen deal with her loss, then this latest season is not going to be an easy watch either.

As the season goes on, Helen continues to go through numerous trials and tribulations. After Helen chooses Ryan, she tries her best to make the relationship work. But Ryan (who lives his life like a nomad) shares that he’s not happy living in Serenity and tells Helen that she deserves better. This, of course, shatters Helen’s heart to pieces. In the spur of the moment, she completely skips town without telling Maddie or Dana Sue. (For context: the three best friends get into a heated argument about Ryan halfway through the season, which results in them not talking for a brief period.) After all, they were childhood sweethearts. But as an outsider looking in, this breakup truly felt like the end.

But Helen isn’t the only one having trouble in paradise. From the first episode, it’s clear that the main theme for season three is navigating relationships. All three of the sweet magnolias (and their children) are dealing with the complexities of their personal and intimate relationships, whether that be Dana Sue and Ronnie attending counseling to work on their marriage to Maddie being there for Cal while he confronts his anger issues. The third season more so than any other is all about growth and the writing does a great job of showing normal people just trying to live their life, flaws and all.

This deeper dive into the oftentimes highly complicated dynamics of various characters offers a nice change of pace for the series because, if we’re being honest, the relationships in Sweet Magnolias have often been a lot of sunshine and rainbows. But now, we’re finally getting to see the ups and downs of their presumed “picture perfect” relationships, romantic or not.

Dana Sue and Husband Sweet Magnolias S3 CAT

But in the end? The future looks bright for our sweet magnolias and the residents of Serenity: Helen, Dana Sue and Maddie’s friendship is stronger than ever, Bill is trying to change his life for the better, Kyle is starting to move on from the accident, Tyler is exploring new passions and so much more.

And this is only the beginning.

Sweet Magnolias Season 3 Ending Explained

Let’s recap: In the Sweet Magnolias season three finale, the residents of Serenity came together to celebrate Ronnie and Dana Sue’s vow renewal. And there are definitely some surprises. Bill and Kathy (Wynn Everett) show up to the celebration to make amends and ultimately leave town together to search for a fresh start. We also saw sparks fly between old and new lovers (looking at you two, Helen and Erik). And most importantly, we finally saw our favorite magnolias rekindle their friendship after being at odds with each other for most of the season.

Back in July 2023, Heather Headley (who plays Helen) revealed to Netflix’s TUDUM that filming the scenes where the three friends didn’t talk were the hardest days on set. “I remember us all being in our separate spaces. When I read it the first time, I was like, ‘No, no. Please no.’ I kind of felt it was coming at some point, but I didn’t want to be a catalyst for it,” said Headley. “It was really hard to film because we like each other so much. And then we didn’t have margarita nights for a week.”

There were also some side characters who had a moment to shine in season three, from Peggy becoming more comfortable with being a mother (and future mayor of Serenity?) to Noreen getting hired at the spa daycare.

And with season three ending on a positive note, longtime fans (like ourselves) are beyond excited to see what’s next for the three sweet magnolias and the rest of Serenity in the upcoming season. (Because Helen and Erik will get back together right…right?!)

PureWow Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Sweet Magnolias season three made us feel so many emotions, making it such a great watch from beginning to end. The third installment brought us solid performances from a talented ensemble cast, drama-filled answers to those season two cliffhangers, lots more Helen (thank goodness) and more complications in our favorite relationships. And we can’t wait to see what’s next for Helen, Dana Sue, Maddie and the rest of Serenity.

Will There Be a Sweet Magnolias Season 4?

Not too long after the third season topped the streaming service’s top shows list, Netflix announced that Sweet Magnolias will be returning for a season four. The streaming announced the news on their Netflix Family Instagram page.

Alongside a slideshow filled with photos of the best friends together, the caption read, “Sweet Magnolias has been renewed for Season 4!” This news calls for another margarita.

As of right now, there is no release date for Sweet Magnolias season four. But if you want to relive the heartfelt moments from season three while we wait for more news, Sweet Magnolias season three is now streaming on Netflix.

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A Foolproof Guide to the ‘Sweet Magnolias’ Cast (Including What Else They’ve Starred in)

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Karelle McKay

Assistant Editor, News And Entertainment

Karelle McKay is the Assistant Editor of News and Entertainment at PureWow. Before she started writing about all things pop culture, she was a literal couch potato who loved...
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