Jamie Lynn Spears attends FOX's 'Special Forces: The Ultimate Test' Los Angeles premiere at Fox Studio Lot on December 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
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Who Plays Noreen on 'Sweet Magnolias'? Inside Jamie Lynn Spears' Controversial Role

The former child star is back for more Serenity drama.

Fans of Sherryl Woods' Sweet Magnolias novels were over the moon when Netflix developed the story into an original series. The show was a hit, and was renewed for a second season only months after its May 2020 release. While audiences overwhelmingly approve of the majority of the cast and characters, there's one major player whose presence has been somewhat polarizing: Jaime Lynn Spears.

The longtime actress came to fame both as the sister of pop star sensation Britney Spears and as the tween star of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101. Her career took an abrupt halt when she became pregnant at the age of 16, leading to the cancellation of her show. While she dabbled in country music and took a few small roles here and there, she only recently returned to the spotlight as a series regular on Sweet Magnolias.

So who does she play, and why has her casting been a point of contention? Let's dive into her role and the controversy.

Noreen Fitzgibbons

In 2019, Netflix announced that Spears would join the cast of their new show Sweet Magnolias as Noreen Fitzgibbons. The platform described the character as "a young woman who is determined to build a new life for herself after a series of bad choices." Without spoiling too much for those who aren't caught up on the show, those "bad choices" put her at odds with the series' protagonists/besties troop Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliott) and Helen Decatur (Heather Headley).

"Mama's going back to work, y'all," Spears tweeted after the announcement. "Can't wait for y'all to meet 'Noreen'!! I fell in love with this story, and so excited I get to be a part of telling it #SweetMagnolias."

At first, her resurgence into Hollywood and desire to get back to work was celebrated by her fans (even if her character isn't necessarily the most popular). But not long after the first season aired, her role in some very real family drama brought her casting to question.


While her sister, Britney Spears, had been on and off the tabloids for years, her legal battles over her 13-year-long conservatorship—which at the time was under control by their father, Jamie Spears—caught public attention in 2019. Fans started using the hashtag "FreeBritney" to raise awareness about her situation, believing that she was being held against her will.

Fans were quick to notice that Jaime was surprisingly mum on the situation and questioned why she wasn't being more vocal about her sister's struggles. The actress was just as quick to fire back. "10 years ago, who was there?" she captioned an Instagram video that showed her shielding her big sis from paparazzi. "I have been here long before anyone else and I'll be here long after. I love my sister with everything I have. So anyone or anything that speaks to the contrary can GTFOH with all the comments about what you don't understand."

Sadly, that sisterly love didn't last. Jamie Lynn Spears was outed as being a trustee of her sister's estate (which she denied), and after a 2021 hearing of the conservatorship case, they began publicly feuding on social media. "How dare the people you love the most say anything at all ... did they even put a hand out to even lift me up at the TIME !!!???" Britney Spears said in a now-deleted Instagram post. "How dare you make it public that NOW you CARE ... did you put your hand out when I was drowning ????"

In the months that followed, the sisters continued to feud over stories that Jaime Lynn Spears' wrote about in her autobiography Things I Should Have Saidwhich was released right around the time Britney Spears' conservatorship ended. Britney Spears threatened legal action over the claims her sister made in her book. While the fighting seems to have settled, it looks like the sisters are still not on speaking terms.

Fan Boycott

All of this internet drama went down at the same time the second season of Sweet Magnolias was set to appear, and some fans were so #TeamBritney that they boycotted the show altogether.  People argued that it was wrong to support a show with an actress who wasn't standing up for her sister when she needed her the most. A petition was even created to have Jaime Lynn Spears' character recast, which has been signed by over 20,000 people.

While Sweet Magnolias may have lost a few viewers due to the controversy, it wasn't enough to oust Spears from her role as Noreen. In fact, the show was picked up for a third season which is premiering on July 20 on Netflix. "Let's pour it out for SEASON 3!!!!!!" Spears wrote on her Instagram.

Since the new season was announced, the actress has shared tons of behind-the-scenes pictures from not only Sweet Magnolias but also her revival of Zoey Brooks in the upcoming Paramount+ film Zoey 102. Her daughter, Ivey, even appeared in an episode of Sweet Magnolias.

"Yes, she was quite the DIVA, but the girl knows her angles and can rock some pigtails like no other," she wrote in an Instagram post. "Thank y'all, thank y'all, THANK YALL for loving this show as much as we do. I am beyond GRATEFUL."

Despite the fans' backlash, it looks like Jaime Lynn Spears—and Noreen—is here to stay.

READ MORE: 'Sweet Magnolias' Star Heather Headley Is a Grammy Winning Singer