Hart of Dixie is a show about puns! A cute HEART surgeon named HART has to go live in Alabama which is called DIXIE because of something something slavery. It's adorable!
Oh wait, it's totally puke-worthy. My mistake!
I always wonder with shows like this, do they some up with a name and then shoehorn a premise into it? That's definitely what this feels like. It's an utterly cynical mishmash of Things Test Audiences Like covered with a syrupy sweet goo of sentimentality.
The show begins and is punctuated with narration by its protagonist, Dr Zoe Hart. She begins with her graduation, where she was voted Cutest Doctor or something. Unfortunately she narrates all over her graduation speech, which sounds pretty interesting. It is about how she first used a scalpel at age 9. "Dad and I snuck out and dissected" she begins before she is drowned out; I can only assume there is a cute story about a homeless person in there.
After her speech a twinkly-eyed old man comes over and asks her to come to a small town in Alabama and be a doctor there, but she wants to be a heart surgeon because her name is Hart. He stares at her like he's putting a gypsy curse on her. Maybe he is transfixed by the amount of eyeliner she has managed to shove on. Zoe's mum is awful because that is a thing on TV, women's mothers are awful. Also she doesn't want her to be a doctor. Mums hate their kids being doctors, that's for sure!
Despite her lofty ambitions, Zoe is in for some eye-opening shocks! First her boyfriend dumps her because she talks about heart surgery all the time, probably mostly in pun form. Then the boss of the hospital won't let her be a heart surgeon!!! When she points out that she is very good at heart surgery, he tells her, "If you want to be a heart surgeon, you've got to work on your own." Although he agrees that she is the best heart surgeon he has seen in 30 years, he was very sad when she wouldn't read a book to an elderly patient.
"I don't care if you are brilliant, Missy! This is New York, and if you want to
make it in this town you need to learn how to love!"
This is just completely reasonable and believable, New York surgeons are definitely expected to do a lot of reading to the patients because this frees up the nurses to give foot massages and paint the patients' portraits. The boss of hospitals tells Zoe to go be a GP for a year before he lets her be a heart surgeon! Oh snap! Does he even know what her name is? But there are no jobs for GPs in New York. WHERE WILL SHE GO?!? Luckily the complete stranger who accosted her at her graduation has been sending her regular postcards asking her to come work with him, and instead of contacting the police she decides this is probably a very good idea.
Zoe takes a bus to the town of Bluebell, Alabama, where the twinkly doctor lives. (I guess she didn't realise that she would need a car to get around a small rural town, but that's OK, because everything there is apparently in walking distance.) From here on in everything is shot with yellow cellophane over the lens, because Rural America is full of Sunshine and Values and Old-Fashioned Real People.
Also there is the most awful country music forever.
She gets a lift from a Handsome Lawyer who does his own twinkling and is full of Good Old-Fashioned Chivalry ma'am. When he drops her off he says, "I hope you find what you're looking for." Sure, just a normal thing to say to a stranger, no problems. Zoe goes to the doctor's practice but he has been dead for four months. Um excuse me? Oh it's okay, his nurse just kept sending postcards that he wrote in advance before his death so that he could stalk her from beyond the grave. Oh and he has left her his half of the practice! That's cool.
Zoe walks around the town with the nurse (sassy and bossy but with a heart of et cetera) and sees a bunch of girls dressed up like toilet roll cover dolls. These are the Belles! They are the Mean Girls of this town, because as we all know historical reenactments are so hot right now. Zoe mildly questions the politics of paying tribute to a way of life which was made possible by the slavery of actual human beings, which in turn has left deep psychic scars and socio-economic problems which persist to this day, but the nurse pooh-poohs this big-city liberal hoohah and points out that the Belles are just keeping the town's history alive. Okay then! Also she says the Belles are worse than the Sopranos, so I spend the rest of the episode waiting for kneecaps to be broken. (Spoiler: no kneecaps get broken.) The daughter of her new medical partner is a Belle and she is blonde and her name is Lemon and she is obvs totally evil. She describes Zoe as the new "lady doctor", which makes me wonder if she has seen any television made after 1965.
Then Zoe asks the nurse for a Venti latte et cetera and the nurse actually uses the phrase "high-falutin'."
Zoe has nowhere to live so she goes to the Major's house, which is called the Plantation Mansion or something, and she feels uncomfortable with the Confederate overtones but then it turns out the Mayor is BLACK! Twist!!! Also he is an ex-footballer who refers to himself in the third person, so: totally likeable. He tells her to look out for Burt Reynolds. Oh man what does he even mean?!? This is going to be great! He puts her in a shack that shares a generator with another shack. The lights go out and she storms over to the other house to yell at the dude for using electricity. He is playing Rock Band with a bunch of Sexy Ladies. One of them is playing the drums, but without a drum kit, just in the air. Sexy! Then on the way back there is an alligator and she is scared and falls over, but the Handsome Lawyer explains that it is Burt Reynolds, the mayor's pet alligator. Oh snap!!! It thought it was going to be a person but it is an alligator!!! Also that big-city girl is pretty stupid for being afraid of an alligator which is just a really good pet to have because alligators are so easy to train and not dangerous at all.
Then Mr Handsome gets run over because she gave an old dude an eye exam but he cheated which she totally should have known because everyone knows he cheats at the eye exam, and there is a tween blogger (good character!) and she meets the mean doctor who owns half the practice and he is totally mean and she buys a box of wine and gets drunk walking back to her house and then she makes out with the Rock Band dude.
The mean doctor, not the Rock Band dude.
In the morning Zoe realises that this is crazy and she just doesn't fit in with this small town that is so full of Heart and Old Fashioned Values and Community and contacts Mr Handsome the Lawyer so she can "sign over" the practice to the mean doctor. Um, maybe you should discuss the price? The guy seems pretty keen to own the practice so you could probably get a pretty good... Nope, just sign the paper, okay then. Mr Handsome is engaged to Lemon (TWIST!) but he makes it pretty clear that he doesn't like her much. What a cool guy!
Zoe's mum has come to take her back to the city but Zoe gets a call from a lady she met who was fat and who she diagnosed with Being Pregnant. The lady is working at Lemon's and Mr Handsome's engagement party and is having Pains (uh oh) but instead of going to hospital she wants Zoe to come over. Sounds pretty normal, pretty cool. Zoe goes over and delivers a miracle baby that is dry and clean right out of the vagina! Good doctoring. I think there was an episiotomy (don't look it up) but I'm not sure because I had my eyes shut and my fingers jammed in my ears and I was singing.
She tells the nurse she is leaving and the nurse is like oh I guess I should tell you that the doctor who was stalking you was TOTALLY YOUR DAD. Zoe confronts her mother, who admits she got pregnant to him when she was on a cruise and engaged to Zoe's not-dad. Zoe asks why she didn't marry Dr Twinkles. "Was he a psycho? A paedophile?" I guess those are the two main reasons people don't marry each other! Mum explains it was because he's "not our kind of person." Makes sense! Of course this changes everything and Zoe decides to stay in Bluebell and then it turns out her narration has been to her father's grave! Good twist!
Of course there are lots of good cliffhangers to keep us watching. Will Zoe learn to love? Will she learn that Community and Good Old Fashioned Values are more important than high-falutin' coffee and Fancy Book-Learnin'? Will she make out with Mr Handsome? Oh, the questions!