On September 26th, 2011, Hart of Dixie Season 1 Episode 1 aired on The CW for the first time. Now, ten years later, I wanted to reflect on the show and everything it had to offer.
On the surface, Hart of Dixie was a fish out of water story: a big city doctor moves to a small town and tries to kick-start her career. It quickly became a show about love, family, and finding a home.
While the world of Hart of Dixie is zany and unrealistic, there are a lot of great lessons we can learn about life from the show.
1) Life Doesn’t Always Go According To Plan
Zoe Hart planned to be a cardiothoracic surgeon in Manhattan like her father, Dr. Ethan Hart. she was sure she would get a fellowship and follow in his footsteps. Fate had other plans for her.
Many of us have visions of our future planned out. We know what we want and where we are going. That doesn’t mean we’ll end up where we think.
Of course, we’ll initially be frustrated that we didn’t get what we want, but with a little patience and perseverance, we might just get what we need.
By the show’s end, Dr. Zoe Hart is happily settled in a small southern town. She co-owns a general practice and has a family of her own.
This isn’t the life she planned at all, but we know she wouldn’t change it. She discovered on Hart of Dixie Season 3 Episode 1 that Bluebell is where she belongs.
2) It’s Not Enough To Know The Answers. You’ve Gotta Have H(e)art!
The reason Zoe doesn’t get the fellowship she was in her opinion a shoo-in for is that she doesn’t have any bedside manner.
She’s a great surgeon. She has great hands. She’s done the work. She knows the science and medical text. But she won’t read to patients or remember their names.
As George Tucker said, bedside manner is nice. It’s also necessary.
A good doctor, and a good person, can’t be all head and no heart. Caring about people is not a flaw. It is what makes us human.
Zoe learns to love Bluebell because the people care. Because they care, she learns to care too.
3) If Someone Is Trying To Reach You, There’s Usually A Reason
Harley Wilkes’s interest in Zoe’s valedictorian speech and his job offer are a little out there. Him sending her postcards for the next four years, however? Beyond cooky.
That is until you learn he left her his practice because he is her biological father.
In real life, people don’t make offers to people like that unless there’s a real reason. Harley had a reason. He wasn’t just nutballs or super nice to Zoe right when she needed it.
Thankfully, Hart of Dixie doesn’t require a suspension of our disbelief for the kindness of southern men to go beyond George not being an ax-murder.
(Side-note, it may have worked out for Zoe, but no matter how cute or polite he is, DO NOT get in a stranger’s car for a ride into a town that doesn’t even have public transportation. This is a lesson we shouldn’t take from the show).
4) Don’t Let Anyone Stop You From Pursuing You Dreams
Zoe wasn’t meant to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, but she was meant to be a doctor and a damn good one.
Her mother didn’t support her medical career. Her father discouraged her. The Chief of Surgery where Zoe did her residency rejected her for the fellowship because she didn’t have any bedside manner.
Lemon and Brick Breeland did everything they could to chase Zoe away from their waters, to paraphrase Brick. It didn’t work.
Zoe knows her own worth as a doctor. Having the town hate her didn’t stop her from chasing her dreams or doing her job. Her dreams changed, but she still had the talent, and she still went after what she wanted.
5) Don’t Conduct Important Business While On The Phone
Zoe signs off on Old Man Jackson’s eye exam because she’s busy talking to her mom. It doesn’t even occur to her that he might have memorized the eye-chart.
Because of Zoe’s negligence, Old Man Jackson nearly runs over George Tucker. Not only are two people hurt, but it doesn’t exactly endear her to the town that was already weary of her.
Her first confrontation with Brick was always going to go bad, but it might have gone better if she hadn’t just nearly killed George.
6) Trust The Wisdom Of Those Who Came Before
It wasn’t just distraction that caused Zoe’s mistake with Old Man Jackson. It was also not reading his chart or consulting with Mrs. Hattenbarger or Brick.
Zoe is confident, which is great, but she’s new to Bluebell. She doesn’t know the people. She doesn’t know their medical histories.
She assumes since she’s a big shot from the big city, that they have nothing to teach her.
It’s only when she humbles herself, starts to read Harley’s notes, and starts to listen to Brick that she starts to grow as a doctor, which was the whole point of her coming to Bluebell in the first place.
7) Always Be Polite And Say Thank You
Zoe doesn’t make the best first impression on most of the people in Bluebell when she first arrives. Part of that is because she’s pretty rude to everybody she meets.
She’s rude to Mrs. Hattenbarger, rude to Wade, she’s even rude to her new crush George Tucker. If Zoe had been polite to Wade, he might have fixed the generator, which I’m sure she would have appreciated.
While she and George have a flirtation going on, it still doesn’t occur to her to thank him for “saving” her from Burt Reynolds until he calls her on it.
Being polite goes a long way. Words like please and thank you can mean the difference between a pleasant conversation and an enemy for life. So take a page out of the Bluebell handbook, and be polite.
8) You Can Always Use A Friend
Zoe Hart is nearly thirty years old at the beginning of the series. Rose Hattenbarger is a teenager. Usually, this is not the recipe for friendship. As we’ve said, when Zoe first arrives in Bluebell, she has trouble making friends. She rubs nearly everyone the wrong way.
Rose is one of the few exceptions. She is kind and curious. She is obsessed with all things New York, and she is quite eager to meet and befriend Zoe. When someone is kind and willing to be your friend, it isn’t something to turn down, especially when you are the town pariah.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes, as well as all different ages, genders, etc. One of the first open-minded things Zoe does is accept an offer of friendship from this precocious teen.
While Rose is vastly underutilized throughout the course of the series, the friendship persists and is significant to both parties. So take your friends where you can get them. You never know where it will lead.
9) Sometimes You Need To Hit Rock Bottom
Zoe describes making out with Wade, the “electricity stealing buffoon from next door,” as her lowest point. When she sits on his horn, which plays Dixie, she calls this rock bottom.
The whole encounter mortifies Zoe, and she swears Wade to secrecy. It could be a one-time mess-up, never to be repeated. However, fans of Hart of Dixie know that Wade is Zoe’s main love interest throughout the series.
The two eventually have a son and get married while Zoe is in labor. On Hart of Dixie Season 4 Episode 10, as Zoe and Wade are cuddling in her hospital bed, waiting for their son to be born, Wade reminds her of that night on Miller Road. He refers to it as “the first chapter of the rest of our lives.”
Would Zade have still happened if Zoe hadn’t hit rock bottom? Maybe. Maybe not. If nothing else, it’s a good memory for the couple, and fans, to look back on.
10) Don’t Let Difficult Stop You
Zoe isn’t the only person struggling with complications. Lemon is trying to be George’s perfect fiance, even though she and Lavon obviously have a history. Lemon jealously confronts Lavon about taking Zoe as his date to her engagement party, pointing out how difficult the situation is, and he says difficult never stopped him.
What did he mean? I’d wager that he meant, despite the difficulties, he would still be with Lemon if she wanted. He’s not afraid of complications. He’s not afraid of difficulties.
Lemon, at this point, is afraid of difficulty. She’s marrying George because it’s the easiest path. It’s what is expected of her. Lemon’s journey in the show is inspiring, and possibly the best part of the series.
It comes down to her be willing to do the difficult thing and be who she is, as opposed to who everyone expects her to be. When she owns her strength and tackles her obstacles, Lemon is a force, and she winds up getting everything she wants, including Lavon.
11) It’s Easy To Forget Our Own Strength
Lemon isn’t the only strong character on Hart of Dixie. The show is full of strong women, but on Hart of Dixie Season 1 Episode 1, the award for strength goes to Mabel. Giving birth is hard. Giving birth when the baby is a breech baby without a hospital is near impossible.
Aided by Zoe’s encouraging coaching, Mabel played by Ann Mahoney, finds the strength to push through the pain and push her daughter out. After giving birth, Mabel finds the strength to cut her toxic mother out of her life for the sake of her child.
It’s hard to walk away from the only support we’ve had, even if that support wasn’t all that supportive. However, as any mother knows, once you have a child, it isn’t about you anymore. Mabel becomes stronger for her daughter. She does what she has to do to guarantee her daughter the best possible life.
She also gains a little independence on the way. Go, Mabel! We should take to heart Zoe’s words to her. Never forget how strong you are. Most of us are stronger than we know, and we’ll find that strength when we need it.
12) The Truth Always Outs
It’s very human to keep secrets. We do it to protect ourselves, or to protect others. However, some truths need to be told, and when a secret affects someone else, they will find out eventually.
Zoe’s mother tried to keep her paternity a secret from her. Even when she found out that Harley left Zoe his practice, she pretended she didn’t know him and acted confounded at him leaving his life’s work to a stranger.
But the truth is out. Zoe eventually learned that Harley was her father, and it would have been so much better if her mother had just been honest with her from the start. As we know, Lemon’s secret affair with Lavon also comes out eventually.
Whether it’s paternity or an affair, keeping secrets more often hurts than helps. Even if your intentions are noble, it’s usually better to be honest up-front. If your intentions are not noble, you know what you need to do.
13) The Lost Can Be Found
It’s okay to be lost sometimes. Zoe admits to being lost. She also admits that she might find herself in Bluebell. Once the truth about Harley comes to light, Bluebell becomes about more than her career. It becomes about finding herself.
Zoe does find herself in Bluebell. It may have been a biological connection that brought her there, but she finds herself in the found family she forms.
Lavon becomes her best friend and the brother she never had. She forms a close bond with Annabeth and Rose. She gets on better terms with the Breelands. She finds a place for herself as a family doctor, and she finds love with Wade.
It took time for Zoe to find a home, and part of the process was admitting that something was lacking. Once she opened herself up to what Bluebell had to offer, she was able to find everything she was looking for.
What lessons did you learn from Hart of Dixie?
Let us know in the comments!
Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..