Warning: This story contains spoilers for season 3 of Sweet Magnolias.
This interview was completed before the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Sweet Magnolias season 3 featured breakups, weddings and goodbyes – but it was the unexpected conflict between Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue that left fans most unnerved.
“I will tell you what, I don’t know what my favorite [margarita night] is, but I know what my worst was,” Heather Headley, who portrays Helen on the Netflix series, exclusively told Us Weekly about having to fight with costars Brooke Elliott and JoAnna Garcia Swisher on screen. “It really was one of those days I wasn’t looking forward to. That day was very hard to film. We all kind of went to our corners and it was just not fun. When I read it, I was sending a message to our showrunner, [Sheryl J. Anderson], I was like, ‘Come on. Seriously?’ Like, I knew this needed to happen but I can’t say these words, I cant do this.”
Headley, Elliott and Garcia Swisher portray Helen, Dana Sue and Maddie, respectively, on the family drama — three lifelong childhood best friends who lift each other up as they juggle Relationships, family and careers in their small South Carolina town of Serenity. The three women and their warm chemistry are a tentpole of the series, so when it came to Headley having to fiercely argue with her beloved costars during a margarita night gone wrong, the notion didn’t land well.
“It just wasn’t fun. I like [Brooke and JoAnna] so much and it’s hard to fight with somebody that you like,” she told Us. “And we had to keep that going for, like, four hours. That tension. You’re just like, ‘Ugh.’ There was this part of me that couldn’t go over talk [to them and then] go yell at [them]. When it was over, I just had to go home and shower it off and then just be like, ‘Alright, that will never happen again.’”
Helen faced estrangement from Dana Sue and Maddie for a handful of episodes during season 3, which premiered on July 20, however, the trio eventually found their way back together. While the Magnolias being at odds was a difficult narrative for the show, but their rekindling of friendship left viewers with a reminder of what ultimately ties Sweet Magnolias together — hope.
Keep scrolling for a breakdown of where each Sweet Magnolias character ended up at the end of season 3:
Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher)
After working through Cal’s anger issues — and meeting his ex-wife, Vicky — Maddie and her beau end season 3 happier than ever in her Relationship. She also says a temporary goodbye to her mother (Caroline Lagerfelt), who dashes off to the coast to spend some time with a blossoming romance.
Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliott)
After working on their relationship – and learning each other’s love languages — Dana Sue and Ronnie (Brandon Quinn) find their happy ending by renewing their vows. They also make peace with Ronnie’s sister, who, after taking some of Ms. France’s money from Ronnie in exchange for leaving town, finally apologizes for the hurt she’s caused their family. Dana Sue also decides to start a donation fund for Serenity with the Magnolias.
Helen Decatur (Heather Headley)
After finally calling it quits with Ryan (Michael Shenefelt) — and breaking off their engagement for good — Helen reconnects with her community, her Magnolias and with EriK. After a season of estrangement, the two make peace and begin to work on their friendship (and possible rekindling romance). Helen also tries to rally Peggy (Brittany L. Smith) to run for office and promises to help her with her campaign.
Kyle Townsend (Logan Allen)
Kyle loses Nellie (Simone Lockhart) but gains a girlfriend in Lily (Artemis). He also plays a major part in rallying the town toward helping fix up a rundown park.
Bill Townsend (Chris Klein)
Bill seemingly comes to terms with the pain he’s caused Maddie, Noreen and his children and promises to work on himself before revealing he and Ronnie’s sister are heading out of town together.
Ty Townsend (Carson Rowland)
Ty makes the decision to take a gap year before heading off to college so he can continue learning and working with his hands. He also, after breaking up with CeCe (Harlan Drum), has a moment with Annie that hints the two longtime best friends might finally become something more.
Annie Sullivan (Anneliese Judge)
Annie breaks up with Jackson (Sam Ashby) after she realizes how much she dislikes having to hide their relationship from the people she loves — and how little effort he’s actually putting into their relationship. She finds comfort in the arms of BFF Ty and the pair share a secret handhold that teases a romantic future ahead. She also finds strong female friendship in Lily and former nemesis CeCe, hinting that the trio may be the next generation of Magnolias.
Cal Maddox (Justin Bruening)
Cal lets go of his past issues with ex Vicky and works on building a friendship — in addition to their romance — with Maddie. By the season 3 finale, the twosome are more secure in their relationship than ever before.
EriK Whitley (Dion Johnstone)
After quitting Sullivan’s, breaking up with Helen, fighting with Dana Sue and almost taking a job with Ronnie’s sister — EriK makes amends with his friends in Serenity and rejoins Sullivan’s as sous chef. He also forgives Helen for leaving him for Ryan and the pair share a meaningful glance at Dana Sue and Ronnie’s vow renewal.
Noreen Fitzgibbons (Jamie Lynn Spears)
Noreen finds new romance with Dana Sue’s former flame Jeremy (Chase Anderson) and continues to raise her daughter without the help of Bill. She also hints at big changes in her life during the season finale, when she tells Isaac (Chris Medlin) she has something to tell him — and he reveals he has news for her, as well.
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All three seasons of Sweet Magnolias are available to stream on Netflix.