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There would seem to be very few people who fired up Netflix on May 19, saw that Sweet Magnolias was available for viewing, tried the first season of the romantic drama, and then decided that they actually didn't like it. The hit show, which is based on the series of novels of the same name by Sherryl Woods, follows the career, family and romantic ups and downs of three life-long friends in the fictional town of Serenity, South Carolina. But, while that may sound a lot like something that fans of Hallmark's infamously sweet romance movies can get behind, it turns out that star Justin Bruening doesn't quite agree.
While we see quite a few career and family triumphs and tribulations for Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue over the course of Sweet Magnolias 10-episode first season, the main focus is usually on the love lives of the best bud trio. The show is pretty close as you can get to full-family entertainment when it comes to something that deals with adult ladies having romances, but Justin Bruening, who plays Maddie's eventual boyfriend Cal, does take some exception to people comparing the show to Hallmark romances.
After being asked by Entertainment Weekly if fans could expect a shirtless scene from him, Bruening dropped the details on when said scene happens, and then went on to explain why he doesn't think Sweet Magnolias is that much like a Hallmark movie:
Somebody compared this to a Hallmark movie. I said, 'Uh, you won't ever see Episode 8 on Hallmark.' I've done Hallmark movies. I don't remember ever having to do anything like that. My wife thinks Cal is allergic to clothes. I have a billion pet names now, by the way. She'll be like, 'Mr. Unicorn man-candy, can you take the trash out for me?'
Well, I have to admit that while I, myself, have sometimes compared Sweet Magnolias to Hallmark movies in the weeks since I binged the series, Justin Bruening makes a very good point about Episode 8. After his Cal spends a few episodes trying to woo the still-reeling-from-a-bad-divorce Maddie, he manages to convince her to give him a shot. By Episode 8, they've been dating for a little bit and Maddie feels comfortable enough to accept a date at Cal's home, so he can cook for her, and, well, you know what they say darlin': not all of the heat on that date was in the kitchen!
Anyone who's watched a Hallmark movie, whether it be Christmas or otherwise seasonally themed, or of the murder variety, will know that absolutely no one gets it on in those things. While we may, very well, get the occasional shot of the male lead in a state of semi-undress which shows off his manly chesticles, that is always as far as it goes. Hell, people in those movies don't even usually kiss until the very last minute of the whole thing, so you know there's no bow-chicka-wow-wow happening in any corner of those relationships.
As a very important side note: I've watched all of Sweet Magnolias, and some parts of it twice so I could write about in recent weeks, and at no point do I remember anyone on the show calling Cal "Mr. Unicorn man-candy." Either I wiped that from my memory because it was too much to bear, or Justin Bruening's wife knows something we don't. (Hint: she probably does.)
At any rate, as Bruening said, he has Hallmark movies like Last Vermont Christmas and The Thanksgiving House under his belt, so he remembers how completely sexy-time free those films are.