Two Sundays ago, a new version of “Steel Magnolias” premiered on cable. This was noteworthy for several reasons. First, somebody actually thought we needed another version of “Steel Magnolias” when the 1989 movie is a certain kind of classic. Second, the cable version starred black women. Third — and this is the remarkable thing — the new, black “Steel Magnolias” premiered neither on BET (because there’s now almost nowhere on the network to put a movie like that) nor the theoretically more upscale BET alternative, TV One (it’s become a lot of “Save My Son” and “Martin” reruns).
No, the new, black “Steel Magnolias” premiered on Lifetime. Lifetime is television for women. And for a long time, that meant television for white women. But on “Steel Magnolias” weekend, the network devoted a prominent portion of its programming to movies starring black women. “Abducted: The Carlina White Story,” with Aunjanue Ellis, Sherri Shepherd, and Keke Palmer, debuted the night before, and “Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys” was its lead-in. And during the broadcasts of both were dozens of commercials for “Steel Magnolias.” The network was proud of this movie.