Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Steel Magnolias - Revamped!

So, just about everyone in the DOC has been talking about the remake of "Steel Magnolias" on the Lifetime Channel for quite some time. It aired in the US on Sunday evening, and up here in the true north on Monday evening. I finally got a chance to watch it yesterday and am excited to post my opinions on the new version.

I think some background info is needed first though...

Anyone that has watched the original should remember that the main character, Shelby (played by Julia Roberts), had T1 diabetes and against her doctors and mothers (Sally Field) wishes, decides to have a baby. She then passes away near the end of the movie from complications due to her diabetes. There is a famous scene on the day of her wedding at Truvy's Salon where she has a low blood sugar episode and convulses and is given a glass of orange juice to treat her low. This movie is one of the only movies that depicts someone with T1; well, other than the Babysitters Club Movie but let's not get into that now.

Lifetime has now re-made the original version and has cast an all African-American cast. It's a great cast really - Queen Latifah is Shelby's mom, M'Lynn, and she does a fantastic job. She truly is a talented actor and I wish she would do more dramas. Shelby is cast by Condola Rashad who has done work on Broadway. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, which I wasn't expecting. I love the original, and still prefer it, but Lifetime did a really good job with re-creating it. They stuck to the original script almost word for word. There are a couple slight changes, such as M'Lynn's break down after Shelby's death is moved to a scene in the beauty salon a little while after her funeral. I have heard that this is more true to the original play and was changed in the Hollywood version of the movie.

In terms of Shelby's diabetes, they added information to her condition which I think was really important. In the beginning of the movie it is explained that Shelby should not have a child due to her kidney disease, which we assume is related to her diabetes. In the original it is simply implied that because she is diabetic, she can't have kids which is not true. Also, Shelby's low seems more true to real life. Although I found Julia Roberts acting in the original scene very good, Condola Rashad's depiction of the low is more realistic. In reality, if Shelby had been having the convulsions that she had, it is not realistic that some orange juice would fix that as quickly as it did in the original and it would have taken her longer to recover.

It occurred to me while watching it that this was the first time I had watched this movie as a T1 diabetic. I've watched this movie a million times throughout my life; I love it and cry every time. But this is the first time I've watched it since my diagnosis in February of this year. It's not that I was ever avoiding it, I just never had the opportunity to see it this year. This definitely altered my view on the story. Obviously, the movie is way more relatable to me now than it ever was. I understand that the true meaning of the story is the relationship between the women, but watching it this time as a diabetic made me notice more about Shelby's struggles. I have lots of fears of the complications from diabetes, even when it is managed well. I also fear that I won't be able to have kids even though I know lots of T1 women who have had healthy babies. It's always something that weighs in the back of my mind.

In summary, I say the remake was well done. If I had to choose, I would still pick the original only because I love the cast and it's very nostalgic. But, on the other hand, I love that diabetes has been portrayed in a more accurate light in the remake.

If any of you missed the premier, there is an encore this Sunday, October 13th!


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