I don’t know why, but I love the movie Steel Magnolias. It’s a combination of Dolly Parton’s bad acting, the good natured rivalry between Olympia Dukakis and Shirley McLean, and Julia Roberts’ annoyingly toothy smile that draws me in. Yes, I cry every single time I see it, just like I cry every time I see Terms of Endearment or West Side Story.
But there is a time line discrepancy in Steel Magnolias that bothers me to my very core. Let me outline it for you, and see if you agree or can offer some clarity. I tried reaching out to my Facebook friends, but got little to no satisfaction from anyone’s input.
Fact 1: Shelby has a kidney transplant on our about July 4th.
Fact 2: Annelle, who is deeply religious, is getting married on or close to Halloween.
Fact 3: Shelby collapses and slips into a coma on Halloween
Fact 4: Shelby dies and is buried. At the funeral Annelle is pregnant and asks M’Lynn if she can name her baby Shelby
Fact 5: Annelle goes into labor and gives birth on or around Easter
Just looking at these raw facts raises an eyebrow right away. If you are married on Halloween, there is no way you can have a baby on the following Easter unless you were creasing the sheets before you walked down the aisle. November – April is only 6+ months of gestation time.
Yes, the baby could’ve been premature, but they make mention of how uncomfortable Annelle is in her advanced stage of pregnancy at the Easter Egg Hunt so I doubt that was the case.
There is the school of thought that Annelle gave into temptation by letting her boyfriend bed her down before entering into holy matrimony, but I hate that idea. It just doesn’t fit her character. And on a side note, who cast that dude? He looked like Eddie Munster grown up. Ick.
The only other plausible explanation is that Shelby was in a coma for a very long time. Let’s pretend she collapsed on Halloween of 1989, the year the movie came out. Annelle would have had to have become pregnant around August of 1990 to give birth around Easter of 1991. If she is already pregnant at Shelby’s funeral, that means Shelby would have to have been in a coma for at least 10 months – the last of October 1989 to August of 1990. This would also account for the fact that Jack Jr., who was like 1 1/2 when Shelby collapsed, was a lot older when we next see him at the Easter Egg Hunt where Annelle goes into labor.
But this theory doesn’t mesh for 2 reasons. For one, Jack Jr. is being pushed in a swing at Shelby’s funeral and is clearly still a toddler. And, they mention that M’Lynn didn’t leave Shelby’s side even once while she was in the coma…she couldn’t risk missing it if Shelby woke up for even a minute. I doubt even the best mother would sit by a comatose daughter for 10 months non-stop.
Nope, it’s a plot flaw, plain and simple.
Am I mentally defective for even caring about this?