Review: ‘Hart of Dixie’: Gotta keep movin’ on
It’s been one week since we had our hearts shattered by the Zoe/Wade breakup on ‘Hart of Dixie’. How’s everyone feeling? Still in mourning? Did you wake up with a sucker stuck to your face this morning? How many pies have you eaten (because, no matter what Zoe said, pies can make you happy)? I’ve downed about a box and a half of Girl Scout Cookies myself. Breakups are hard, y’all.
There were some mixed reactions to my post from last week in which I attempted to quell the fears of fans by explaining how this breakup, while incredibly sad right now, could possibly turn out OK – for everyone involved – in the long run. And whether you agreed with my opinions or not, I think we can all admit that the folks over at the CW are either brilliant at their jobs, or really, really bad depending on how you look at it. Because the week after the break up Wade was looking good.
If the point was to make him so damn attractive that I forgot about his indiscretions, putting him in that sweatshirt and a tuxedo (in the same episode!) is probably a good start. Of course, Wilson Bethel could be dressed in 1970s wallpaper and I’d probably still find drool on my keyboard, sooo…
Ahem, let’s get down to business.
This week’s episode attempted to handle the aftermath of the breakup, and this episode, more than the two that preceded it, is the most important. Cheating? Easy. Breaking up? Devasting, but still kind of easy, especially when you have Wilson Bethel and Rachel Bilson who have so much chemistry between them that words aren’t really necessary to convey both characters’ emotions. But the third and final stage of a breakup – the aftermath – is the most difficult, and I think ‘Hart of Dixie’, as the feel good CW show that it is, did quite well.
We saw Zoe move through her own stages of grief – wallowing in self pity with alcohol, candy, and pie; stewing in anger and hate mixed with yet more alcohol; and then finally, after a rather great moment with Lemon, acceptance. And it’s the key moment with Lemon that really seals the deal, because Lemon and Zoe aren’t really all that different.
Sure, Lemon is uptight and crazy with a capital C, but so is Zoe, she’s just uptight and crazy in a different way. They’ve both come from homes in which parents have let them down, and now they’ve both been jilted by men with really good faces. Their moment of bonding proved what a season and a half of writing really couldn’t – it laid out all the ways in which Zoe and Lemon are similar and I hope this leads to a better Lemon/Zoe friendship, because they’ve both grown up a bit this season, and I’m really excited to see where this goes.
I think the writers also used this episode to showcase not only how similar Zoe and Lemon are, but as a mirror to reflect how even though all might seem lost right now in terms of a future Wade and Zoe relationship, that isn’t necessarily the case. Last night’s episode brought Lemon and George together again in one of Lemon’s harebrained schemes to dig up dirt on Shelby (whom Brick wants to invite to move in – a little fast, no?). It involved them posing as a couple who are thinking of buying Shelby’s house so Lemon could snoop through her things. The entire caper has typical Lemon written all over it, but it’s proof that life does go on after a breakup and that even though it’s unlikely, exes can exist and be friends (or more) post-breakup.
Yes, Lemon did guilt George into accompanying her by reminding him of all the ways in which he screwed up by leaving her at the altar, but it worked. I do wonder, however, how long they can play the You Left Me At The Altar Card, because while it was funny in this episode, its magic won’t last forever. George will probably always feel bad about how his relationship ended with Lemon, but there will come a point in time when he won’t feel guilty enough to allow Lemon to pressure him into doing something for her. But as for Lemon and George being friendly? Hell yeah. Because both characters have made huge strides this season, and I think we all need to send cookies (but not my Girl Scout Cookies) to the writers, because I complained and they listened.
While the Lemon and George storyline was played mostly for laughs, it really is a great study in how exes can be friends. Some of you expressed that you felt Wade cheating would tarnish the Zoe and Wade relationship forever, and yes, while I believe that it will never fully go away even if they do rekindle their romance, I don’t think for a second that they won’t ever be friends again. Zoe is hurt, and she let Wade know how bad he hurt her when she screamed that she hated him, but even by episode’s end it was obvious that she knew that wasn’t the truth. She might not like him right now – and she might have burned his boots (AND THEN RETURNED THEM – which might be my new favorite revenge) – but she doesn’t hate him.
It’ll probably be some time before we see Zoe make true strides to forgiving Wade, but that’s OK, because as I mentioned last week, Wade needs this time to address his own issues, and Zoe needs to do the same. They’re both struggling with feelings they didn’t really quite understand, as well as personal insecurities, and this breakup will help them to grow as individuals.
It was also nice to see the breakup from both sides, because so often viewers are treated only to the main character’s emotional breakdown, not both. If the writers didn’t want us to care about Wade and his journey, they could have just ignored how Wade handled the breakup, but by allowing viewers to see his pain the writers have made the world of Bluebell a richer, more emotionally grounded place. And this is important for any show. Ryan McGee, one of my favorite critics, just wrote a great piece about why every show needs a Xander Harris – meaning why every show needs to flesh out its secondary and tertiary characters – in order to make the leap from good to great. And while ‘Hart of Dixie’ might not be considered the greatest of television fare, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be a fully developed show with relateable characters and understandable situations. And simply by allowing viewers a glimpse into Wade’s pain and misery, the show does just that.
McGee writes, “Episodes that highlight the supporting players enrich the world the protagonists inhabit. They can play out anecdotes instead of relaying them briefly in conversation. They can establish context less awkwardly than exposition. They may slow the plot in the short term, but they improve the story over the long haul. ”
While this episode didn’t necessarily shift the focus away from Zoe and to Wade and his pain, it did open up a channel for conversation about his side of the breakup. And it led to a great bromance moment between Lavon and Wade, because through out the episode it seemed that Lavon might have chosen Team Zoe in the breakup, which was not going to fly with me. Lavon is best friends with both Wade and Zoe, and it’s nice to see the show address the issue of choosing sides. If anyone has ever had two friends break up, you know that friendships can be lost and destroyed by a break up. Bluebell is too small for Lavon to be able to pick sides and so it was nice to see him as an understanding third party.
At the end of the day, Wade and Zoe are still on the outs and Zoe has eaten her weight in pie, but the show hasn’t lost its feel good family dramedy spark. This episode could have gone either way, but the writers have settled into these characters and this world and they understand the relationships – both romantic and platonic – so well that it turned out all right. Add in a little side story about Rose and her boyfriend (and about Zoe projecting her unhappiness on to them) and Magnolia being won over by a new car (which doesn’t make much sense since Shelby is having monetary issues), and you’ve got everything that makes a great ‘Hart of Dixie’ – a lot of heart with a side of laughter and a dash of meaningful looks by Wilson Bethel.
Some stray observations:
- “You didn’t lose me. How could you lose me? Hell, I’m 6 and a half feet tall!” – Lavon, proving that he is perfect
- No Annabeth this week, which is sad, but makes sense, both in terms of actors’ contracts and budgets, but also because she didn’t fit in to any of this week’s stories. I hate when shows try to shoehorn in a character or a ridiculous storyline in an already full episode. It makes me hate the character by association.
- But it was nice to see Tom and Wanda living it up as newlyweds!
- Informal poll: Wade’s sweatshirt or Wade’s tux?
Note: Photos courtesy of The CW.