The Heart of Hart of Dixie
I realize this is a good year for TV, and so there’s an excellent chance that you are missing a fun little gem currently airing on The CW: Hart of Dixie. I won’t claim that it’s actually good, but it does grow on you if you let it. I mean, it’s not even like shows of years past like Veronica Mars where viewers cry foul that the show never gets recognized by the Emmys. No one is saying, “Rachel Bilson is just so fantastic in this and the writing is so tight– it really deserves attention.” But it’s charming and easy and perfect for watching in marathon form on a rainy Sunday. I highly suggest watching beyond the pilot as that first episode does not really do them credit.
Hart of Dixie follows the coming-of-age of Dr Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson), a slick and all-knowing New York doctor with a fondness for formal shorts. Through a series of events, she discovers her father is the deceased family doctor of a small Alabama town called Bluebell. She agrees to take over his practice and winds up in a lalaland of Southern stereotypes and quirky characters. We’re talking alligators as pets, social clubs for women that seem to preclude gainful employment, and names like “Crickett” and “Lemon.”
It’s essentially Summer Roberts becomes Doc Hollywood and goes to Star’s Hollow which has been invaded by the casts of Steel Magnolias and The Dukes of Hazzard. So, you can see the appeal. It does require suspension of disbelief because there’s no way a small town in Bama is A) so well racially integrated, B) this well dressed, and C) not obviously suffering from the economic downturn.
In case you need more convincing, here are 5 good reasons to give it a shot:
1) The clothes are bananas. Dr Zoe Hart, as previously mentioned, often wears shorts and a blouse to work. Her nemesis, crazypants Scarlett wannabe Lemon Vreeland, dresses like a drag queen masquerading as a house wife. Shelly, the dotty waitress at the Rammer Jammer bar, dresses like she’s the poster for the old “We Can Do It!” ads. In fact, the Fug Girls have a weekly recap of the fashion choices and it’s worthwhile reading. Interestingly, the menfolk are usually dressed reasonably well.
2) That person that you like from that Other Thing is in it. The kid in the wheelchair from Friday Night Lights is now dashing young lawyer George Tucker. Andie McPhee from Dawson’s (curse you Dawson’s writers for besmirching her good image with an affair at a psych hospital) plays the estranged mother of another character. Former West Wing Vice President Hoynes is the smug Other Doctor in town who tries to derail Dr Hart. The guy who tells Josie Grossie to look in the mirror to see why the other kids are laughing at her is now the mayor (in fairness to him, he’s had bigger roles, but that is the one I remember). And guess who plays the fabulous town social columnist and taste maker? That’s right- mother ‘effing Carl Winslow, who is possibly having the best time of anyone on that show.
3) There’s a legit love triangle. Usually it’s pretty easy to pick your desired pairing in a love triangle, but this one leaves me a little stumped. Dr Hart has an obvious crush on Good Boy George Tucker who used to live in New York and appreciates all of her Big City cravings. Sadly, he is engaged to that dastardly Lemon Vreeland– but you know he feels a pull to Zoe. The good doctor also has a little thing with redneck neighbor Wade, who at first seems smarmy but has an emerging heart of gold lurking beneath his man whore exterior. This is a true triangle because Wade and George are actually high school pals and their scenes together are pretty fun. Ultimately, you know that when she chooses one, that friendship will suffer. It’s all very bittersweet.
4) Planksgiving. Look, it’s wacky and ridiculous to think that a small town in Bama would replace Thanksgiving with a holiday where they honor pirates, but any show that can produce a picture like this is okay by me:
5) The show is executive produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage– the brilliant minds who brought us such guilty pleasures as The OC, Chuck, and Gossip Girl. Their stuff is usually pop culture savvy and self-aware, and they are masters at creating tortured relationships while keeping the jokes rolling. This means that we can be confident in the eventual casting of Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows.
And a bonus reason: this video. Which has shout outs to Ben McKenzie and Adam Brody, and is just a little mean-spirited toward the dearly departed Marissa Cooper.
Go forth and watch- I need someone to discuss it with me!