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Soothe your soul with these comforting romance dramas
Justin Breuning and Joanna Garcia Swisher, Sweet Magnolias
We have good news and bad news. The good news is that Netflix officially announced that Sweet Magnolias has been renewed for a third season over the summer. The bad news is that we have no idea when Sweet Magnolias Season 3 will be released. We know, Season 2 only premiered earlier this year, but we can still miss our favorite comforting rom-dram.
Sweet Magnolias stars JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Maddie, a soon-to-be divorced mom of three children whose husband (Chris Klein) leaves her for a younger woman (Jamie Lynn Spears). On top of dealing with the fallout from her husband’s very public affair, she’s also juggling raising her kids and managing a new business with her best friends, Helen (Heather Headley) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott). But thanks to her new relationship with her son’s new baseball coach, former Major Leaguer Cal Maddox (Justin Bruening), things are finally starting to look up for Maddie.
While you wait for Sweet Magnolias Season 3, check out our list of similar shows featuring small-town stories and sweeping romances that will leave you wanting more. If you’re a Sweet Magnolias fan, these are the shows you should watch next.
Martin Henderson and Alexandra Breckenridge, Virgin River
Sweet Magnolias has a healthy helping of romance, but that’s not all the show has in common with Virgin River. Also based on a book series, the Netflix drama follows Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge), a nurse practitioner who leaves Los Angeles for a remote but picturesque small town in Northern California to start over after a series of traumatic heartbreaks. Although she struggles to fit in at first — her new boss (Tim Matheson) doesn’t make it too easy — a fast friendship with the rugged local bartender/restaurant owner (Martin Henderson) soon turns romantic, opening up a new chapter and a chance to move on.
When Calls the Heart
Sweet Magnolias is a Netflix series in the vein of a Hallmark series, so why not watch an actual Hallmark series? When Calls the Heart, which was inspired by a series of novels by Janette Oke, has the same small-town charm of Sweet Magnolias, only it’s set in a small town on the Canadian frontier. The romantic period drama stars Erin Krakow as a young teacher from a privileged upbringing who receives a teaching position in Coal Valley, a small mining town in Western Canada. We don’t want to spoil it, but she may or may not fall in love with a hot Mountie.
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Chesapeake Shores
Like Sweet Magnolias, Hallmark Channel’s drama series Chesapeake Shores is also based on a series of novels by author Sherryl Woods. The show stars Meghan Ory as Abby, a divorced mother of two daughters who returns to her hometown of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to help save her younger sister’s inn from foreclosure. But there’s more waiting for her, including a second chance with her first love, Trace (Jesse Metcalfe), whom she’d left years ago to move to New York.
Hart of Dixie
Southern charm and hospitality oozes from every corner of Sweet Magnolias, and you’ll find something similar in The CW dramedy Hart of Dixie, starring Rachel Bilson as Zoe Hart, a New York City doctor who moves to the small town of Bluebell, Alabama, to take over her father’s medical practice after he passes away. A fish-out-of-water story fueled by wacky traditions, small town drama, and a swoon-worthy love triangle involving the town lawyer (Scott Porter) and the hunky local bartender (Wilson Bethel), Hart of Dixie will make you want to pack up and embark on your own adventure to the South in hopes of finding even a little bit of what Zoe has.
Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People
Hulu’s adaptation of Sally Rooney‘s Normal Peopleisn’t your typical love story. Detailing the tender but complicated relationship between Irish teens Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) from the end of high school through college, the series is surprisingly honest and frequently heartbreaking as periods of close friendship and intimacy between the two give way to months of little to no communication as fluctuating power dynamics put a strain on the relationship. Easily one of the best shows of 2020, Normal People is well worth your time, and at just 12 30-minute episodes, you’ll breeze through it.
Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinon, Poldark
It doesn’t get more sweepingly romantic than Poldark, the British historical drama based on a series of books by Winston Graham. Aidan Turner stars as the dashing Ross Poldark, who returns home after the American War for Independence and finds not only that his father has died and his estate is in ruins, but that his first love, Elizabeth (Heida Reed) is now engaged to his cousin. He soon falls in love with his scullery maid, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), a development that shocks his friends and neighbors but will make viewers swoon. But while the series is unapologetic when it comes to romance and will give you plenty of instances to drool over Turner, it’s possible that the real sight to behold here is Cornwall, which looks stunning on-screen.
If you’re dying to visit another small town after Serenity, make it Everwood. Renowned New York surgeon but absent father Andy Brown (Treat Williams) packs up his son, Ephram (Gregory Smith), and daughter, Delia (Vivien Cardone), and moves to the small town after the sudden death of his wife (Brenda Strong) and attempts to rebuild his life in this heartfelt WB series. Created by Greg Berlanti, the sudsy series is infused with small town charm, loads of family drama, and the constant ups and downs of love, both young and old. You’ll cry when they cry, and you’ll celebrate when they triumph. If you haven’t watched Everwood yet, now is the time to start.
Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
With a similar focus on strong female relationships and a healthy dose of small town atmosphere, Gilmore Girls is a great show to watch after Sweet Magnolias. The WB-turned-CW dramedy tells the complex story of three generations of women, played by Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, and Kelly Bishop. While the snappy, pop-culture referencing dialogue moves at a rapid pace and everyone in the small Connecticut town of Stars Hollow is eccentric (and possibly crazy), there is still a lovely sense of community and charm about it all.