We’ve done California (The OC), we’ve done New York (Gossip Girl) and now we can have a taste of the deep South as new television series Hart of Dixie hit our screens tonight, brought to us by the creator of Leila Gerstein, who masterminded the show that oversaw the return of this genre when she penned The OC.
You can accuse her new show of many things, but she’s definitely not guilty of trying to re-invent the wheel here. Hart of Dixie is a warm yet perfectly contrived glimpse of light-hearted bubblegum America. Suffice to say, if you can suspend disbelief, there’s fun to be had here.
The show follows the life of implausibly young surgeon Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson), who has fled NYC to Bluebell, Alabama, in a bid to hone her bedside manner after accepting an offer from Dr Harley Wilkes to work as a General Practitioner deep in the cotton states. Yet as is custom in such shows, a short stay turns into a long one and the straight-talking doctor soon realises that southern hospitality isn’t quite as comforting as a certain liquor company would have you believe.
Admittedly there are some flaws here; believing that Zoe Hart is a trained surgeon is a bit like accepting Barbie as your local GP, but for the target audience of young, female and fashionable teens-to-twenty-somethings this probably doesn’t matter. It has become a common trend for shows revolving around the lives of the talented, wealthy and beautiful to be a storming hit, as Rachel Bilson knows more than most having made her name as Summer Roberts in hit TV show The OC. That said, Hart of Dixie has a certain sacharine charm that will win it instant fans.
There are love trysts aplenty amidst the residents of Bluebell, and with such a plethora of young, strapping men (George, Lavon and the perenially shirtless Wade) to feast your eyes upon it’s not hard to see why. Tonight’s episode hints at a definite past between the town Mayor Lavon and the ringleader of the Southern Belles, Lemon (Jaime King), so it seems likely that at some point the truth behind their murky relationship will emerge and cause an uproar amongst the townfolk. As any small-town dweller will appreciate, the gossip in Bluebell is rife, demonstrated most clearly by the three older ladies who appear to do very little other than sit on a bench all day making certain that the rumour-mill keeps a-churning. If only…
If it all sounds a bit Sweet-Home-Alabama-minus-Reese-Witherspoon you’d be right, but that’s not too say that it doesn’t do exactly what it promises on the tin. There is something refreshing about the setting, complete with all of its southern-drawls and bluesy rock, and Zoe herself has some entertaining moments (guzzling a whole box of white wine on your second night in town is not something to be recommended). The characters are warm and there will definitely be further dramatics as the young New Yorker seeks to find her feet in the small, unwelcoming town. It certainly won’t win any awards for original script-writing, but Hart of Dixie is comfortable-viewing, easy on the eye and highly addictive.