How Sweet Magnolias’ Helen and Erik became TV’s best love story

Thank you for being so open about this. Personally, I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is one of the leading causes of infertility. Because of that, when I was 34, I decided to freeze my eggs. After two weeks of doing injections, my doctor gave me the requisite trigger shot the day before the egg retrieval procedure, but I preovulated and lost those eggs. It’s very, very rare that that happens, and thankfully, months later I was able to do it again successfully, but I’ll never forget that first time. It was a devastating loss. We don’t talk enough about any of this, especially those of us that feel we might be doing everything right and then for reasons completely out of our control, things become completely out of our control.

Heather: It’s so funny that you would say that because on the show Erik says, “I’m to blame” [when his wife and child died]. But I think, also as women, sometimes when these things happen, you’re like, “What’s wrong? I blame my…” In the scene I remember grabbing my stomach. You think, I’m angry with my body. Why are you doing this to me? Why is this happening? You’re angry with yourself. You think, Should I have done this? Would I, could I, if I didn’t, if I could, if I… So it really is a story to talk about because I just don’t think we sit and talk about it like we should. We grieve in doctors’ rooms, and maybe cry with our mom or a close friend, or by ourselves, like Helen does, in your house. She’s got these two amazing friends, and she breaks down by herself. It’s like, “Okay, we’ll keep it together. I’ll give you a tear or two.” The real emotional break happens when Maddie and Dana Sue leave. 

On a lighter note, I thought it was interesting when Helen basically friend-zones Erik, and then a day or so later, they end up doing karaoke together and sing “Something to Talk About,” and it all shifts. Was it really that karaoke moment that changed everything for Helen, or do you think she always felt something?

Heather: There’s nothing more sexy than a man singing karaoke, just so you know. [Laughs.] I’ve been begging my husband to redo this scene from The Sound of Music with me forever. I want to go, “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.” He’s like, “I’m not playing von Trapp with you. I’m not. I’m not.” I was like, “Come on. We can do this! Our relationship will get even deeper if you can do this with me.” It’s the key. 

Dion: Didn’t you choose “Something to Talk About”?

Heather: I did. They sent a few songs in that we could use, and I was like, “No, no, no, this doesn’t do anything. No.” They went back and were like, “Well, we have these three.” I was like, “‘Something to Talk About.’ This is it. I think it has all this underplay, and they can totally play with it. It’s great.” But can I just say…they tell us we’re going to do karaoke on the show, and I’m like, Great, not a problem. A certain person with the initials D.J. starts texting, calling, sending me notes, sending me emails, saying, “We need to practice. We need to practice. We need to get…” I was like, “It’s karaoke. Nobody practices the karaoke. I’m good. We’ll be good. Don’t worry. I got your back.” He’s like, “No, no, I need to know what’s…” He has full-blown practice sessions by himself and with me. Dion could not…oh, sorry, I just revealed his name. [Laughs.]