JoAnna Garcia returns for Season 2 of "Sweet Magnolias." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Joanna Garcia Swisher said Season 2 of Sweet Magnolias, streaming on Netflix, increases her character Maddie's stress. Garcia Swisher, 42, discussed some of the season's most challenging developments regarding Maddie's sons, her love life and her political activism, with spoilers.
"Maddie's going to have a lot of gray hair this season," Garcia Swisher told UPI in a Zoom interview. "It started and ended with a bang in Season 1, and we do the same thing in Season 2."
The drama, based on Sherryl Woods books, became the No. 1 new show on Netflix when it premiered in May 2020. Set in the fictional Serenity, S.C., Sweet Magnolias is about the friendship between three Southern women.
Season 1 ended in a cliffhanger with Maddie responding to the scene of an automobile accident. Her son, Kyle (Logan Allen), was in the car, and the identity of the other passenger remained unknown.
Season 2 picked up in the hospital, in which Maddie found out Kyle was in a crash. Then, her oldest son, Ty (Carson Rowland), got in a fight in the waiting room with his rival, Jackson, and got injured. Maddie's sons' recoveries create stress in the household.
"I didn't realize that there was going to be a plot twist, and I wasn't going to be dealing with just one health issue," Garcia Swisher said. "I think it's humbling for Maddie."
The season premiere opens with Maddie, Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), Helen (Heather Headley) and other friends forming a prayer circle in the hospital waiting room. Garcia Swisher said she felt it was important to continue the show's celebration of faith.
"It's one of the main characters of our show," Garcia Swisher said. "Regardless of your faith or how particularly religious you may be, I think it is a huge character on our show."
Another factor that causes Maddie stress is Ty's decision to stay in Serenity for college. His broken arm means he's unable to pitch on the baseball team, so an athletic scholarship is no longer available.
"It's just about being supportive of him where he's at," Garcia Swisher said. "Sometimes life makes some decisions for you that you weren't really anticipating."
Kyle recovers at home and refuses to talk to his family about the accident. He turns to an unlikely source for comfort, his stepmother Noreen (Jamie Lynn Spears). Maddie also has to swallow her pride and thank her ex-husband's (Chris Klein) new wife for helping Kyle.
"That was a big one to bite off for me," Garcia Swisher said. "It's kind of a bitter pill to swallow. At the end of the day, the love that she has for her children leads her to make decisions that are harder, but the right one for her kids."
Season 1 also ended with Maddie's relationship with Cal (Justin Bruening) uncertain. Coach Cal invited a recruiter to see Ty pitch, which Maddie considered overstepping.
The dust begins to settle after Ty's injury, and Cal's team suffers without its star pitcher in Season 2. Along the way, Maddie opens herself back up to Cal.
"The hardest thing for Maddie in Season 1 was to accept that love," Garcia Swisher said. "Cal, I think, represents not only a great love, but allowing yourself to have that in your life and sometimes letting go of that resistance."
One new storyline in Season 2 involves Maddie advocating against restrictive street parking outside her spa. One hour parking isn't enough time for her clients' sessions, and many Serenity citizens consider the restrictions an overreach.
"People are unhappy here and it's not just about parking," Garcia Swisher said. "It's about a general culture. So how can we lead the troops into battle to make for a better town that for the most part people are really proud of?"
Garcia Swisher said the resolution of the political story is about more than just street parking. The actor said she hopes Sweet Magnolias inspires fans to become involved in their communities.
"The idea of justice being done is really important for me," Garcia Swisher said. "It shows you the power of banding together and talking. It's really about coming together and making the town stronger."
Maddie wasn't the only one going gray waiting to see what happened in Serenity. Fans had to wait longer for Season 2 because the COVID-19 pandemic delayed production.
In March, Sweet Magnolias resumed production in Atlanta., under COVID-19 safety protocols. Garcia Swisher said the crew's tireless work taking extra steps to ensure minimal contact and safety made it possible to continue working.
"They are the heroes of all of it," Garcia Swisher said. "They work the hardest, the longest. We at least could take our masks off to work, but they were masked and goggled. It was definitely a lot."
Netflix has not ordered a third season of the show. Garcia Swisher said she and the cast and crew hope they will return, provided Season 2 viewership is as strong as Season 1.
"It feels like we have so much support from Netflix," Garcia Swisher said. "Obviously, the show has to do well, and it has to make sense for them, but we genuinely feel that love from them. We certainly all want to do it again."