Every show must have a villain, and in Sweet Magnolias, the villain is as perfectly dressed in florals and plaids as she is conniving and ruthless. Allison Gabriel reprised her role of Mary Vaughn Lewis in season two of the Netflix series, and from start to finish, she delivered some fierce blows to the Magnolias Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Helen (Heather Headley) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), as well as to their children. Notably, in the final episode, Mary Vaughn digs into Coach Cal’s (Justin Bruening) past anger issues and gets him fired as the high school baseball coach.
“I was feeling a bit like Frankenstein’s Monster after reading the script for that episode,” Allison told HollywoodLife in EXCLUSIVE interview. “I called my husband, crying a little bit. I told him, I’m getting written off this job because it’s just too horrible of a person. I finally talked to one of the writer’s assistants and they were like, ‘No, no. That’s not going to happen!'”
She continued, “The second season was such a surprise to me. I wasn’t sure if I was playing her well anymore, because I felt like I didn’t have a handle on it. It felt really chaotic,” adding that the storyline of “blackmailing the coach” was a “complete shock” to her. “I couldn’t even conceptualize what that would look like or how that could even work,” Allison recalled. “As an actor, I had to make sense of it and make it real for myself. So, I think the character, for her this is all about helping the public see her as this all powerful, all involved, woman. The ‘Queen’ of Serenity.”
The Baby Driver actress admitted that she believes Mary Vaughn’s behavior comes from feeling “left out.” “Humans are social animals, even though we love our quiet time alone, we are social animals and to feel left out of a group, if it’s just three girl — more like the most beloved girls — I think that can drive you to do crazy stuff,” she said.
Of course, it appears there may be another mean girl coming to Serenity, as we saw a blonde slashing Dana Sue’s catering truck tires in the final scenes of season 2. We’ll have to see if she gives Mary Vaughn a run for her money!