Recap: 'Hart of Dixie' finale 'Bluebell' ends with a song in its heart
Those around Zoe Hart suspected she was having her baby.
Those of us at home knew she was having her baby.
But she just kept saying that she was a doctor and she knew what real contractions were supposed to be like.
She was wrong.
Zoe Hart had her baby.
I liken this in-show situation to the situation surrounding "Hart of Dixie" as a series.
"Hart of Dixie" was already on the bubble for renewal the past couple years and it was a minor miracle it lasted this long, since it was never a show that fit with anything in The CW's brand.
The CW has already renewed basically everything on its air and some things -- "Beauty and the Beast" -- that are being dumped in the summer, but "Hart of Dixie" was left on the outside.
Everybody associated with the show was tweeting about series wraps when production ended several months ago and some were tweeting about the series finale tonight.
But for months, nobody associated with The CW has been willing to confirm that "Hart of Dixie" was ending. Promotion leading up to this week's episode and promotion within the episode referred to it as a "season" finale.
Well, now we've seen the way Friday (March 27) night's "Hart of Dixie" ended and just as Zoe Hart finally couldn't deny she was having her baby after her water broke all over Lemon Breeland's shoes, I think we probably can all agree...
That was a series finale for "Hart of Dixie."
And it was a charming, funny and emotional series finale for a show that was consistently pleasant, consistently undervalued, but probably never destined to be much more than the little cult curio it was.
More on what we should all admit was the series finale for "Hart of Dixie" after the break...
I'll first say this: The CW has already renewed shows for next season that are far worse than "Hart of Dixie," but also shows whose ratings will make the ratings for "Hart of Dixie" look almost "Empire"-esque. I get that "Reign" probably has international value and "Beauty and the Beast" has a pact with Satan, but with no lead-in, virtually no promotion and on an almost untenable night for programming aimed at young female viewers, "Hart of Dixie" has done a number for The CW. It hasn't been a big number, but last week's episode drew 1.1 million viewers and did a 0.4 key demo rating. "Reign" doesn't do that. "Beauty and the Beast" won't do that.
And with "Jane the Virgin," The CW actually finally has a show that would be a perfect pairing with "Hart of Dixie." "Jane the Virgin" is better than "Hart of Dixie," but not by such a wide margin that anybody would be offended. They're a nice match of big-hearted comedy and romance, the sort of shows that would have existed on the old WB. It would have been nice if they could have aired together for more than just one random week in December.
That's all I'm saying on this subject. Ratings don't really matter to The CW. I don't understand what gets "Beauty and the Beast" renewed over and over again, but it must be something that somebody can quantify based on data that I'm not given access to. And on a network driven by superheroes and vampires, I can see why a small-town rom-com might not be moving the needle in the way The CW wants the needle moved. It's not like letting "Hart of Dixie" is some absurd miscarriage of justice. It's just a show I happen to like. And The CW keeps renewing "Beauty and the Beast."
But if this was how "Hart of Dixie" ended, it ended completely on its own narrative terms and in a way that probably left most viewers totally satisfied.
As has been the case this entire season, the finale had to set up a little discomfort, some bickering and some misunderstanding, but with only a finite amount of time, it had to dispatch with any unhappiness in a hurry.
Lavon had to eventually admit to Lemon that he stole Zoe's engagement set-up last week and while Lemon was drunkenly sad and grumpy for perhaps one act break, she realized it didn't matter.
George and Annabeth had to have some disagreements regarding their separate living circumstances, but while Annabeth was sad and grumpy for perhaps one act break, they admitted they loved each other and it didn't matter.
Between the season-opening fighting, the briefly hidden pregnancy and the disagreement over whether or not they'd eventually get married, Zoe and Wade didn't even need to have any drama this week.
So the episode was able to accelerate to Zoe finally realizing her show was cancelled and she was having a baby and Zoe and Wade going to the hospital and being met there by nearly everybody of series importance -- Where was McKayla Maroney at? -- and Zoe deciding she wanted to get married, even as she was having contractions. And in what I can only assume was pandering to me, they had Zoe's mom remind her that she's half-Jewish, so they found a rabbi -- named after finale director David Paymer -- and the town minister and they got married with everybody around them as they rolled into the deliver room. [UPDATE: Apparently it was David Paymer's brother playing the rabbi.]
And then, after introducing TBD Hart-Kinsella to the world, Meatball's band struck up a song and everybody began to sing and the song spread into the Bluebell town square, where Lavon and Lemon got married and then into the new home where Annabeth and George were cohabiting and everybody sang and danced. And Rachel Bilson and Jaime King aren't such great singers, but they sounded just fine. And Cress Williams is a terrific singer and he should be encouraged to do it more. And we've all seen "Music & Lyrics," so we knew Scott Porter had skills. And everybody was happy.
"Do you think all small towns are like this one?" Zoe asked Wade, sitting on a bench watching the merriment.
"I'd like to think so, but probably not. I know I love ours," Wade replied.
Zoe agreed, "Me too."
And there's nowhere else to go from there, is there?
It may have been a fan-service finale to cap off a fan-service season, but Leila Gerstein's sense of how to deliver fan-service without being obnoxious was admirable.
Among the things that made me write "Awww..." in my notes:
*** Brick making Zoe a partner and unveiling the sign? Awww. Zoe wiggling her fingers to get Brick to come down and hug her because she couldn't stand up? AWWW.
*** Rose telling Zoe that she'd gotten into Columbia and had been inspired by her to go to New York City? Awww. "Now I know who I want to be," Rose said. "A strong woman who isn't afraid to be a little crazy when it comes to love." Awww. And Zoe giving Rose shoes? Meh. Not my emotional cup-of-tea. But that's OK.
*** Zoe at Harley's grave? "I finally found love. I finally found a home." Awww. "I wish that you could be the grandpa to this baby." AWWW.
And that's not getting into any of the "Awww" moments for the rest of the cast.
Look, "Hart of Dixie" was never "Gilmore Girls," but a lot of viewers didn't give it a chance to see how solidly it delivered "Gilmore Girls"-esque warm-fuzzies at its best. The fact is that "Gilmore Girls" had a core mother-daughter relationship and then the layers of parent-child relationships and those things made it a much deeper show than "Hart of Dixie," which chose to have a revolving series of love triangles as its core. That's always going to be a flimsier center for a show and even when "Dixie" tried to give various characters paternal and maternal proxies, that fell short. It's just a question of architecture. "Gilmore Girls" was a small-town family dramedy, while "Hart of Dixie" was a soapier small town dramedy.
There wasn't quite as much time for the "Hart of Dixie" ensemble to all deepen beyond caricatures, but they were appealing caricatures and, at different points and to different degrees, I quite liked Tom & Wanda and Dash and Cricket and Magnolia and Tansy and Frank and Earl and Reverend Peter and the rest, to say nothing of the more central supporting players like Brick and Rose. And there was even the episode in which Laura Bell Bundy's Shelby got to sing, which made up for all of the episodes in which I didn't care much for or about her.
I liked having "Hart of Dixie" episodes to watch on Friday night and if this is how the show ended, it did ended well and I'll miss it just a bit.
A few other finale and general "Hart of Dixie" thoughts:
*** I appreciate how clean Gerstein and company made the final season, knowing that the end was probably nigh. Zoe had chosen between Wade and George long ago, so that was never a debate, but not prolonging the George-Lemon-Lavon triangle was a very smart decision. And once Lemon and Lavon were destined to be together, the writers had a choice: Bring in an outside interloper or two to make George and Annabeth happy or pair them up, since they were the main characters without partners. Yes, the George/AB relationship was too convenient and only somewhat motivated, but Scott Porter and Kaitlyn Black were cute together and in "Dixie"-land, that's more than enough.
*** There were a few nice shout-outs to the beginning of the series, largely ignoring how pre-destined Zoe and George seemed to be for each other until they weren't.
*** For me, Kaitlyn Black was the show's big discovery and the expansion of Annabeth's presence was one of the smartest things the writers ever did. She wasn't one of those supporting players who came out of nowhere and threatened to take the show over -- Like Rachel Bilson at times on "The OC" -- but she just added an additional female dynamic. I look forward to seeing what she'll do next. Black, who wasn't a regular at first, had a pilot in the spring of the first season and "Dixie" is lucky it got to keep her.
*** Remember Joel? Why did that happen?
*** No jokes about doctoring in formal shorts in the finale. Boo.
*** The "Meatball is a Rock Star" arc seemed designed to honor my ongoing contention that Meatball and Ed Sheeran are the same person, but it also entirely paid off with the closing musical number. Kudos.
*** TAYLOR TOWNSEND! I don't need a fifth season, but if we got a fifth season, it would need to feature a lot of Autumn Reeser, who popped up in the finale for three minutes as a kinda New Zoe, a New York lawyer working in Bluebell for a year.
And that's about it... What'd you think of the "Hart of Dixie" finale and are you satisfied with the way it ended?