Fall TV Preview

Can Hart of Dixie Charm CW Viewers? 'You Don't Have to Be Scandalous to Be Cool,' Says Star

The CW in recent years has hosted some intrinsically thrilling series (the bloodthirsty Vampire Diaries, superheroic Smallville, kick-ass Nikita). But save for the unceremoniously axed Life Unexpected, few provided the old-school feel-goodness associated with the netlet’s predecessor, The WB. We’re talking Gilmore Girls, Everwood, shows that delivered wholesome happiness each week.

Enter Hart of Dixie, premiering Monday at 9/8c. But can this Southern-fried charmer hook CW viewers more accustomed to edgy fare?

Fall TV First Impression: Hart Of Dixie Serves Up Rachel Bilson, Southern Comforts

Hart of Dixie is a throwback to the old WB,” attests Scott Porter, who plays good ol’ boy lawyer George Tucker (Friday Night Lights). “And I really think that America needs something like that again. It’s a void we’re happily filling.”

Starring The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson as an ambitious New York doctor who (somewhat reluctantly) inherits a medical practice in Alabama, Dixie is “not a commentary on current world issues,” says Jaime King (aka Southern belle Lemon Breeland). “Hart of Dixie is where you want to go to be entertained, to escape. You don’t have to be this scandalous show to be cool. We need to see a healthy side of life on TV, too.”

Exclusive: Hart of Dixie Snags Episodes/Chuck Actress Mircea Monroe

Dixie indeed delivers on that promise. Here is how else the dramedy stands apart from the rest of The CW’s fare.

GORGEOUS STARS… SURROUNDED BY SOUTHERN COMFORTS | Imagine Gilmore Girls with cowboy boots — that’s what you get in Dixie. “Where we differ from the rest of television is that we are set in the South and like to take our time with things,” Porter tells us. “Relationships on our show are well-built and they’re real, developing at a very slow burn.” Also Gilmore-y, says Wilson Bethel (who plays bad boy Wade), are the town of Blue Bell’s big events. “So far we’ve had gumbo cook-offs, pancake breakfasts, turtle races…,” he shares with a laugh. Adds King, “It’s so cool to have something on TV that is like Everwood … with so much heart.”

LOVE TRIANGLES… THAT ARE KINDA SWEET | In Dixie‘s debut, Zoe meets (and instantly is drawn to) George, who is engaged to Lemon, who has unfinished romantic business with [SPOILER!], while Wade has a bit of a crush on Zoe…. Got all that? But it’s far less sordid than it sounds. (Meaning, it’s no Stelena/Dalena situation.) “There’s a natural chemistry between Zoe and George because he understands her,” Porter explains. “But moving forward, you’re going to see a lot more of George and Lemon and why they really do make sense together. Their love is real.” Bethel meanwhile refuses to be intimidated by his on-camera rival. “I will tell you that I believe Wade will win [Zoe’s] heart in the end,” he teases with a laugh. “That is my solemn belief. Let Scott Porter try me!”

Hart of Dixie Exclusive: Rachel Bilson Gets a New Ally, to Replace Nancy Travis

CATFIGHTS… THAT ARE LEMON-FLAVORED | While Zoe and Lemon don’t see eye-to-eye, don’t expect any Upper East Side-worthy brawls. “Zoe’s like a tornado coming in destroying everything Lemon cares about,” King previews, “so it’s this big culture clash.” The real issue between the two is that they simply don’t understand each other — though King says that there’s hope for a future friendship, if only because “they’re actually very similar.” Fun fact: King and Bilson have been friends for eight years, so “it’s like working with a sister,” she gushes. “It is the most graceful relationship I’ve ever had onscreen — and in real-life.”

LIFE-AND-DEATH STAKES!… WHICH OCCASIONALLY INVOLVE REPTILES! | Supernatural has the Devil. Hart of Dixie has… Burt Reynolds? (That’s the name of a big, lumbering crocodile who patrols Blue Bell at night and gives Zoe a scare in the opener.) “They’re going to be in some silly situations that are really fun to play,” Porter reports with a laugh, “whether it’s with an alligator or a snake or a bullfrog…. We have a lot of reptiles and amphibians on the show!” But there’s a method to the creepy-crawly madness, too. “These events provide stolen moments here and there for Zoe and George. They have such an easygoing rapport, and that’s going to continue. They really just get each other.”