This too shall pass: Hart of Dixie’s Zoe and George problem
About a year ago I wrote a theorem that I called the Pacey Witter Theorem. This theorem dictates that on shows aimed at women ages 14-30 and that use the love triangle as a plot device, the heroine must first fall for the sweet, handsome all-around town good guy. After a certain amount of time has passed – at the very least there’s a season of either a) pining or b) actual dating – the female lead character starts to see the faults of said “nice guy” and her eyes start to wander to other men.
It is at this point – probably sometime in the second season of the show – the up-until-this-point disgusting, no-good, town slacker/screw up, starts to change in the eyes of our beloved heroine until she finds herself more intrigued by the show’s bad boy character than her own boyfriend/good guy crush. After a period of going back and forth between her feelings of being trapped/bored/annoyed with the good guy and her feelings of excitement/danger/possibility associated with the bad guy, she’s forced to choose. And she always chooses the “bad boy” – because otherwise fans would riot in the streets for making them sit through all that back and forth crap.
At some point during the show’s run and her relationship with the second man, she realizes that this guy, the one who seemed to be a screw up, a lothario, an all-around bad guy, is actually a very sweet man who only realized his full potential after she gave him the time of day and made him feel worthy of being loved, worthy of being seen as someone better. She usually makes this man want to be a better man.
As you can probably tell by the name of the theorem I derived the entire thing from ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and the Dawson/Joey/Pacey love triangle – or as I like to call it – The Father of all Love Triangles.
This theorem has been tried and tested on show after show. Think about it. There’s the epic Dean, Rory and Jess love triangle from ‘Gilmore Girls’, a love triangle that’s caused many an argument on the interwebs. There’s the Angel, Buffy, Spike triangle from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ that still causes some anger and bitterness between fans even though the show itself ended nearly a decade ago (and still continues through seasons eight and nine via comics). There’s the love triangle that existed between Evan, Casey and Cappie on ABC Family’s ‘Greek’ and the one between Duncan, Veronica and Logan on the late great ‘Veronica Mars’. But more recently – and probably the love triangle most discussed on this website to date – there’s the love triangle between brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert on ‘The Vampire Diaries’. Like I said, there’s plenty of evidence to support this theorem throughout popular teen dramas.
And the same can be said about the CW’s freshman dramedy ‘Hart of Dixie.’
The show is about a prickly New York doctor named Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) who is forced to move to middle-of-nowhere Bluebell, Ala. to spend a year as a general practitioner in order to learn some bedside manners. On her way into town, in her high heels and formal shorts no less, she’s picked up on the side of the road (because apparently the bus does not actually go to Bluebell, just drops poor souls on the side of a road and forces them to find their own way to the town) by a nice lawyer named George Tucker (Scott Porter). He’s sweet, he’s good looking, he’s got that southern drawl. He’s the kind of guy who would pick up anyone on the side of the road, not just a hot woman in high heels and short shorts. Let’s face it, he’s probably who Jason Street, Porter’s character on the beloved NBC show ‘Friday Night Lights’, would have grown up to be if he hadn’t been paralyzed during that football game.
But why was Zoe even in Bluebell? She was invited at her medical school graduation to move to Bluebell to work at a practice run by a doctor named Harley Wilkes. She turned him down because she had her life all planned out and Bluebell wasn’t on that life map. After missing out on a fellowship because she was unable to feel empathy or relate to the pain of her patients, she decides to take Harley up on his offer. She arrives in town only to find out Harley has died and that he was actually her birth father. Shocked by this revelation and and by the southern small town’s culture, she finds herself drunk on boxed wine on the side of the road. Picked up by her annoying, but very sexy neighbor, Wade (Wilson Bethel), she proceeds to throw herself at him in his car. That is until she backs into his horn which immediately starts blaring ‘Dixie’, because they’re in the South and this is apparently supposed to signify just how southern Bluebell is. She ends their makeout session in shame and disgust for herself.
In the show’s fourth episode titled “In Havoc and in Heat,” Bluebell is hit by a massive heatwave, which apparently makes everyone in town go crazy. Zoe denies being affected by the heat, but finally gives in to her own heat-induced craziness to the point where she tries to take Wade up on his “free pass.” But at the last second, right before the two are about to kiss, the skies open up and the rain pours down and apparently the magical heat wave is instantly broken and Zoe comes to her senses and admits that she’s “just not that kind of girl.”
It was at this moment where the Internet exploded. Shipper teams were built, gauntlets were thrown, fanfiction was written. And there’s been a fierce battle brewing between the fans of Zoe and Wade and the fans of Zoe and George. The Zade fans have had the upper hand by sheer force of numbers, and because Wilson Bethel has that sad face down pat, but the fans of Zoe and George (Zorge? That sounds like the name of a stupid alien ruler who doesn’t realize how pathetic he is.) have had the writing staff of ‘Hart of Dixie’ on their side. The only problem is this: up until last week, George was engaged to the uptight, southern belle, Lemon Breeland. But that hasn’t stopped Zoe from actively crushing on George like he’s a single man and not months away from a wedding.
In the past couple of episodes a lot of things have happened rather quickly. George found out that Lemon had an affair with Lavon Hayes, former NFL linebacker and current Bluebell mayor, while he was in New York doing lawyer-y things, and calls off the wedding. Zoe, in a poor attempt to pretend she just wants to take care of George because he’s her friend, makes George soup so he can wallow properly. But Zoe is surprised to find that George is happy and hopeful for the future. Zoe uses her doctor skills to deduce that George’s happiness act is actually him being in denial of the whole situation. George skips town on his newly purchased motorcycle and heads to New Orleans. While there, he calls Zoe and invites her to come join him. Zoe agrees to meet him, but tells herself – and a concerned Lavon – that she’s not expecting anything. And yet she wears some nice, fancy attention getting clothes. Righhhhht. Throughout the night the two flirt and even at one point pretend to be a couple on their honeymoon while talking to some groupies who thought George singing was out. of. this world. They share a rather passionate kiss on the dance floor before deciding they want to take their party of two someplace more quiet.
While Zoe is on the phone reserving a fancy-schmancy hotel room, some dude gets up and starts singing “What a Wonderful World,” which was also the song that George and Lemon (and nine billion other couples) were going to dance to at their wedding. The immense feelings that he’d been ignoring and denying all day finally punch George right in the stomach and he realizes it’s time to go home and confront/discuss/punch Lemon in the face. And yet, somehow, at the end of all of this, Zoe is still frakking hopeful that she’ll win George’s heart.
Zade shippers everywhere threw their remotes at their TVs when Zoe and George kissed and immediately took to the interwebs after the episode was over to complain about this most heinous of developments. But I’m here to tell you guys, as a fellow Zoe and Wade fan, that everything is going to be OK. This too shall pass. Everything is going to work out the way we want it to. Our heroines always fall for the obvious choice – the good guy with a heart of gold. But once the shine of that goodness starts to rub off, she’ll notice the guy she’d previously decided was a waste of space and not worth her time. Once she realizes that this “bad guy” is actually a really good guy who’d just been a little misguided, a little misunderstood, who’d had a rather bad upbringing or had been shit on by life, who didn’t care about anything until he met her, then she’ll see him for the great man he’s got the potential to become. And she’ll help him reach his full boyfriend/human potential.
There is always a brief period of time in which the heroine must pine for the good guy, reveling in his good-guyness. It won’t last. It never does. And if you don’t trust me, trust the theorem. Because it never lies.
Note: Photo courtesy of the CW.