Sweet Magnolias' Allison Gabriel Talks Playing the Most Hated Woman in Serenity, Now More Than Ever

Sweet Magnolias Season 2

“In the first season, fans loved to hate me,” Allison Gabriel tells TVLine of playing Sweet Magnolias‘ resident troublemaker Mary Vaughn Lewis. “In the second season, they just straight-up hated me.”

And can you blame them for taking issue with Gabriel’s character? Not only was she a constant thorn in the ladies’ collective side throughout the Netflix drama’s sophomore season, but (finale spoiler alert!) she’s also directly responsible for Cal losing his coaching job, triggering a spiral that would eventually land him in jail.

“Mary Vaughn is not a likable person, I get it,” the actress says. “The fans want to kill me, but I take that as a compliment, because it means I’m doing my job well. If we all got along, this would be a very different show.”

“She’s someone who doesn’t give a crap,” Gabriel adds. “She has no filter, no problem pushing people’s buttons. She’s also very self-interested. She’s someone who always needs to win, and she doesn’t care whose feet she has step on. It all comes down to something as simple and mundane as self-interest.”

As for the method behind Mary Vaughn’s madness, Gabriel believes that it all boils down to one thing — jealousy.

“She doesn’t understand why the Magnolias are so beloved,” Gabriel says. “She thinks she sees the real them, and they have everybody else fooled. If they were to invite her in, and she were to become the fourth Magnolia, I think her villainous behavior would probably fall away. Mary Vaughn feels like she’s been shunned by these women. She doesn’t see herself as a villain at all. She’s just trying to make do in the world in which she was born.”

Gabriel, whose education in international relations has proven quite useful while navigating life in Serenity, explains that the Magnolias have “soft power” in the community. “They’re beloved, so they sway opinion,” she says. “They’re influencers in town. Mary Vaughn may have some hard power because she’s married to the mayor and sits on boards, but she’s not beloved.”

Looking ahead to the show’s (potential) third season, Gabriel would like to see Mary Vaughn’s “hard shell cracking open,” allowing her to explore the character’s “softer side.”

“When I watch the show, I feel like Mary Vaughn looks so different from the rest of the characters — the way they designed her hair and makeup and everything,” Gabriel says. “I’m a woman who lives in her pajamas, so when I see someone who’s that put together and tightly wound and concerned with her exterior, all I can wonder is, ‘What’s going on underneath that?'”

How do you feel about Mary Vaughn? And what are your hopes for a potential third season of Sweet Magnolias? Drop your thoughts in a comment below.

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