Review: ‘Hart of Dixie’: Here We Go Again
I didn’t get to review ‘Hart of Dixie’ on a weekly basis last season, which makes me sad for a number of reasons, but the most important being that ‘Hart of Dixie’ is one of the few shows on TV that just genuinely makes my day better simply by existing. It doesn’t matter how often Zoe makes me want to bang my head against a wall—and she does it a lot, as this review will attest soon enough—because at the end of the day, the show is just a bright spot in the sea of an ever-darkening television landscape. It warms my heart like Alabama sunshine and even if it’s not going to win any awards, the happiness it brings is enough for me.
But right now, I’m also sad that The CW decided to bring the show back this week as the lead-in to ‘Jane the Virgin”s mid-season finale, because now I know what my life could have been like had Rachel Bilson’s real-life pregnancy not required a shortened fourth season of ‘Hart of Dixie.’ More than once this fall ‘Jane the Virgin’ filled the ‘Hart of Dixie’-shaped hole in my heart and I can easily see a weekly ‘Dixie’/’Jane’ pairing that would kill us all with a deadly combination of feelings and sexy, shirtless men. And to be honest, that is pretty much the only way I want to go. Give me shirtless Wilson Bethel or give me death is what I always say.
Another reason that I’m sad I wasn’t able to review ‘Hart of Dixie’ weekly is that I didn’t have the opportunity to talk about Zoe’s growth last season or what it meant for her character when she has admitted in front of the entire town that she loves Wade. Zoe Hart isn’t the best-written lead character—she makes a lot of mistakes, and then she continues to make them over and over and over again because she doesn’t seem to understand that the common denominator in every one of her schemes that goes awry is herself—but Zoe did at least give off the appearance of character growth as she told Wade she wasn’t going to give up on him, which was definitely progress for a character who more than once made me want to drop my TV into a volcano.
Over the course of three seasons, we watched as Zoe flounced around town in her tight skirts and perfectly coifed hair and ultimately rained chaos on the wacky people of Bluebell with an “Aw shucks, did I do that?” mentality that would have probably made Urkel stand up and say, “Whoa, lady. Even I saw that disaster coming.” When I read that the show’s fourth season would focus on Zoe and Wade trying to make a relationship work rather than continuing the ongoing struggle of the will they/won’t they scenario that is the lifeblood of romantic comedies everywhere, I was excited. I thought Zoe might have finally, truly grown as a human being. And then I watched the season premiere.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Zoe did try her best to convince Wade they could exist in a real, honest, adult relationship. I mean, she did it in her own Zoe way—which included accidentally serenading Meatball instead when she channeled her inner Lloyd Dobler—but the point is she tried. But Wade resisted because he was afraid of getting hurt again, just like he was in last spring’s finale. It’s easy to see where Wade is coming from—he drove across the state of Alabama to tell her he loved her, which might have actually been the bravest thing Wade had ever done, even more so than becoming the owner of the Rammer Jammer and all that that entailed—and Zoe left only to return several months later with a new boyfriend in tow. That’s the equivalent of crushing Wade’s heart in her fist and then throwing it in his face. It’s not that she purposefully wanted to hurt Wade, but the fact of the matter is that she did hurt him. And so I totally understood where Wade was coming from at first. But then he pushed back a little harder than I would have liked, and that where things began to fall apart.
Wade was very adamant about not entering into another relationship with Zoe despite admitting that he was in love with her, too. He let his insecurity and fear of being hurt again hold him back from being truly happy, and no one wants an unhappy Wade, even if Wilson Bethel has a Ph D. in Sad Emoting. This isn’t out of character for Wade—the entire reason he cheated on Zoe in Season 2 was because he was insecure in their relationship. He was afraid that he would never measure up, and so he chose self-sabotage rather than giving their relationship a real fighting chance. Those insecurities are back, only this time they’re not stemming from Wade’s feelings about himself, but from his feelings for Zoe.
I don’t exactly know what movies are on Wade’s bookshelves, but if you told me there was a worn out copy of the 1995 coming-of-age film ‘Now and Then,’ I would believe you. He’s got a classic case of “If you don’t fall in love you can’t get hurt” syndrome, but he’s already in love with Zoe, so that logic is even more flawed. Wade was pushing Zoe away because he couldn’t trust that she wouldn’t break his heart again, but that’s what love is, right? Every single person who’s ever been in love has had to share a piece of themselves with someone else. The simple act of being in love with someone requires that you place your heart and your feelings in someone else’s hands. The trick is to be brave enough to believe that they won’t break it. They’ve both broken each other’s hearts now, so can’t we just accept that they’ve both made mistakes and they’ve both changed as a result, and come out the other side better people more suited for a relationship together?
Thankfully, Crazy Earl was around to knock some sense into Wade since the world has not yet made it possible for me to reach into my TV and smack people. He made a pretty good argument for why Wade shouldn’t ignore Zoe’s advances—he was shutting out a chance at happiness even if he wasn’t disappearing down a bottle of whiskey every night—and so Wade threw caution to the wind and decided that a relationship with Zoe was worth it after all. But when he knocked on her door and admitted that he wanted to try again, she told him it was too late. Um, excuse me, what now?
Admittedly, Zoe’s pregnancy is a big deal, but pushing Wade away at a time like this—he’s the father, obviously—is exactly the kind of shit that drives fans of this show insane. Zoe didn’t think for one second about how her decision might seem to Wade. Once again she acted selfishly and did the exact thing he was afraid she would do and they weren’t even in a relationship yet! She straight up stomped on his heart with her stilettoed heel like he knew she would. She didn’t do it maliciously—in fact, Zoe has never knowingly done anything malicious to anyone, she just kind of screws up because that’s who she is. But what kind of message does this send to Wade? Why would he want to be with a woman who would fight for him for weeks only to turn around and shut a door in his face the second he comes around, even if there are extenuating circumstances? To be honest, Wade has every reason to move on with his life now. He won’t do it, because that’s how TV works, but it’s true.
And to be fair, I understand Zoe’s panic attack. A surprise pregnancy is definitely a reason to freak out and be selfish—I’d say that every woman is allowed that—but upon seeing Wade at her door, I don’t think the right answer was “Sorry, we don’t want any.” This is another classic case of Zoe and Wade failing to communicate. This development is frustrating because it not only gives the impression Zoe hasn’t changed and truly hasn’t learned anything, but also that the only reason the two will reunite will be because of the pregnancy and not because they love each other, which ughhhhhhhh.
Plus, all of this is just another hurdle in an already shortened season. The weird mid-episode time-jump came out of nowhere, even if it was necessary, but the fact is the show only has 10 episodes this season and the show’s writers are simultaneously acting like they have 22 episodes and can afford to stretch this story out, while somehow also making the episodes feel stuffed as they try to fit in as much as possible. With so many different characters and storylines to service this season—in addition to Zoe and Wade there’s also the George/Lemon/Lavon triangle, Annabeth, Cricket, Brick and Shelby’s rekindled romance, and whatever wacky town event is happening that week—there’s no time to spare. The writers need to make every single storyline matter, because there are no second chances here.
At the end of the day, I don’t know why I am always surprised when Zoe makes the wrong decision. It’s just about the only thing in Bluebell that you can count on these days. I guess on the bright side, at least she’s written consistently?
Some stray observations
- I don’t really care for the renewed love triangle between Lavon, Lemon, and George, but it did lead to some hilarious competition between the two men as they trained to be volunteer firefighters, so I guess I’ll take it.
- I love Cricket and I love that she’s being developed as a character with her own relationship this season. Nice going, ‘Hart of Dixie’!
- Lemon is faking another relationship, and I love it. I still can’t believe how much I’ve come to love Lemon since Season 1.