Title: Steel Magnolias
Released: 1989

Y’all, if there’s anything I love more than cocktails, YA books, or naps, it’s Dolly Parton! She is, in fact, my religious icon – I’m starting a new religion called Dallyism, which is the collected teachings of Dolly Parton and the Dalai Lama. You may scoff, but it’s a great religion. What personal problem can’t be solved by their wise words? I defy you to find one!

So because I, and most of us here at FYA, adore Ms Parton, we are starting a new series called Hello, Dolly!, in which we review Dolly Parton’s greatest hits. Up first? None other than the tried and true classic, Steel Magnolias. Let’s see how it stacks up!


Truvy’s (Dolly Parton) Beauty Spot is the only area in Natchitoches, Louisiana where one can find refuge from Drum Eatenton’s war on birds. It is also the place where one comes for a blow-out, a style, tinfoil highlights, or a dose of Sage Dolly Parton Wisdom. A group of local women, who must get their hair done every other day, can usually be found at Truvy’s, shaping their hair into a brown football helmet or gossiping about their gay nephew Steve. Among these women are M’lynn (Sally Field), an otherwise nice lady who has raised a complete moron for a child. This moron’s name is Shelby (Julia Roberts), and she didn’t bring her purse; no she didn’t. Clairee (Olympia Dukakis) often swans in to offer adorably dry bon mots, including comparing her affection for people to her affection for handbags, and to go head to head with the Town Oracle and my personal Life Coach, Ouiser Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine). Rounding out the group is dumbass Annelle (Daryl Hanna), who mostly exists so that someone is dumber than Shelby, and serves as humble assistant to Truvy’s greatness. She also prays. A LOT.

Shelby gets married to Dylan McDermott, who Sarah, Jenny and I totally ate brunch next to in New Orleans a few months ago! He’s really hot in real life, but more importantly, he kept eavesdropping on our table’s conversations and laughing at our jokes. If he had come over to hang out with us, I would have asked him why he married Shelby that one time in that movie. Cause she’s a piece of work. Shelby’s wedding, however, is notable for starring the world’s greatest Groom Cake, a cake which dwarfs any other potential Groom’s cake for the rest of time, so everyone else should just give up and stop having them.

A while after getting married, Shelby decides she’d rather have a moment of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special, because apparently having awesome parents, including a dad who is Tom Skerritt, great friends, and a hot husband prone to waltzing around the house with no pants on (conjecture on my part, but admittedly backed up by lots of American Horror Story-related evidence) is considered “nothing special.” Well, fuck you too, Shelby. So she and Dylan McDermott practice unsafe sex, and then the swimmer from the daddy goes into the egg in the mommy and then mitosis happens and then they have a baby named Jack, Jr. Jack, Jr’s pretty cute, I guess, for being a latent matricidal clown.

Jack, Jr turns out to be a strain on both the wallet and the kidneys, and M’lynn has to give Shelby one of her kidneys. They do this by driving nails up Shelby’s arms and then asking Truvy to give her a bad haircut. Truvy does this, because Truvy realizes with her divine power that Shelby is not long for this world, and someone at the funeral parlor can be responsible for making that shit look good when Shelby dies.

And then Shelby goes into a coma and she dies and even though I hate her, I cry every time. Every, every time. And then everyone goes to the funeral and is super sad and Sally Field remembers that she really wants an Oscar for this role, so she cries and yells and looks like an adorably angry Tinkerbell, and then Ouiser gets HIT and then everyone learns to laugh again. And I realize that from this description you would think that Dolly Parton isn’t in the movie much but she’s in TONS of the movie and got second billing when it came out, but it’s just because she’s not stupid and she didn’t raise a stupid kid with big hair and she isn’t in love with a bald, turtle-esque man that it seems like maybe the movie isn’t about her, but it really is. The movie should have been called Welcome To Truvy’s Beauty Shop and promotional tie-ins could have been those combs that Southern ladies and people from Jersey use to tease their hair. And the tagline could have been “In a movie that looks like a lame-ass chick flick, just remember: Dolly Parton.”

Sass Quotient

Dolly is SO sassy in this movie!! She has her signature (pre-operative) Dolly look, with tight little sweaters and a pert behind. Why’d she come in here lookin’ like that? Also she offers both sage wisdom and good laid-back Christian values to stupid dumbass Annelle.

The Closer to Heaven

I’d rate the height of Dolly’s hair in this movie as a 8. I’ve seen it bigger, but very rarely.

Best Dollyism

“These thighs haven’t gone out of the house without Lycra on them since I was 14.”

Take Away Lesson

There are three lessons that everyone should take away from watching Steel Magnolias: 1) When in doubt, go for a curl and a tease; 2) There is no such thing as natural beauty and 3) All gay men have track lighting, and all gay men are named Mark, Rick or Steve.


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Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.