5 Ways Life In South Alabama Isn’t What It Seems In “Hart Of Dixie”

I have some friends from Florida who are taking their first trip to South Alabama—Fairhope in particular—this summer. One of their first questions? “Is it anything like Bluebell?” I laughed and assured them Fairhope was the inspiration for the wonderfully perfect, fictional town of Bluebell, Alabama from The CW’s foregone “Hart of Dixie”.

“Hart of Dixie” was one of those boutique shows that never should have succeeded yet hung around long enough that the mere mention of its name now brings a smile to the face of those comparing notes about the show with their friends. Thanks in large part to its fairly accurate representation of life in a small town in South Alabama.

While compiling a list for this article of ways the show misrepresented the area, I kept coming up with ideas but only to kept having to stop and say “nope actually that’s true, we do have things like strawberry festivals” or “oh wait, I can’t actually say that they blew the Iron Bowl rivalry out of proportion because really it was too mundane on the show” and of course “wow, I didn’t realize I knew that many girls actually named Magnolia”.

For a show that was built on, what some would call outlandish and outrageous, adaptions of the true Heart of Dixie, for four seasons the writers were kind and caring of our beloved state. However…it was still a Hollywood version and there were some things that would sneak into the script that had every native Mobile and Baldwin County residents laughing out loud.

  1. There is no way on God’s green south Alabama earth that Rachel Bilson’s hair would ever look consistently that good with this humidity. I might could begrudgingly give her a few days in February or maybe a couple in October—with lots of hairspray—but the curls fell too soft too often to be believable by anyone that has tried to blow-dry their hair for a wedding in June (impossible) and knowingly packed extra ponytail holders in their purse. 
  2. For some reason there’s a misconception in Hollywood that if the setting is in a place where animals are commonplace that said animals must run rampant. On the series premier, Bilson’s Zoe Hart encountered an alligator on a road while walking into town. There were numerous other occasions that wild animals crossed paths with the townspeople, usually to amusement, but unrealistically so. In real life, alligators tend to stay in the swamp while cows and horses, shocker, stay behind the fence.
  3. The characters on Hart of Dixie seem to have a perpetual sheen of sweat glistening their faces because, well, they’re in south Alabama; but it persists even when they’re in a situation that should beget cool air. Then there’s the heat wave that causes everyone to go loco like it’s a full moon at Halloween, a ploy Hollywood pulls a lot for these types of settings.  But those of us that are from here know to keep the air conditioner at 72 during the summer and have lived under enough August humidity blankets to not become psycho. Now sometimes southerners will try to make fun of northerners who are surprised by the heat by saying “Oh that’s just because you ain’t from here. You get used to it.” Well actually no, you don’t get used to; that implies you’re ok with the heat, which is never the case. But we do learn to live with it and we don’t act surprised when temperatures top 100 with 100% humidity…and our hair never looks as good as Zoe’s. I can’t get over that.
  4. One of the reasons “Hart of Dixie” was loved by Bay natives was the love notes the show would send the area. Shots of the Africatown Bridge, making the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion the Breeland home, correct geographical references, etc. But there was one episode when Zoe told her New York boyfriend, “Chickasaw? Ew we don’t go to Chickasaw.” Now I almost didn’t include this because for the past two decades it would’ve been true but any research a dramaturge would’ve done for the show would’ve turned up this fact. For the past few years, time during which “Hart of Dixie” ran, Chickasaw saw a return to the quaint town it was founded as cute cottages, sprawling oaks, and a beautiful waterfront park all are worth visiting. Plus Chickasaw has one of the few Whataburger’s in the area, which is worth a trip itself.
  5. The walls in the Rammer Jammer look remarkably like Ed’s Seafood Shack yet there is no Alabama Championship banner? Its absence is laughable. Sunday School rooms have championship banners and we’re supposed to believe A BAR NAMED THE RAMMER JAMMER doesn’t have one? Yea right.

When Life Hands you Grapes….Watch Hart of Dixie

Written by Guest Blogger- Kassidy

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