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The Hart of Alabama

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Why is it that women always seem to be looking for and finding love in Alabama?

It happens in the movie Sweet Home Alabama. It happens on the TV series The Hart of Dixie. And in the book called The Wind Could Blow a Bug.

I am writing this post in honor of the season finale of Hart of Dixie airing this Friday. While the CW has thus far stayed mum, the cast have all been pretty public that this is the end of the series.

Hart of Dixie's Wilson Bethel

Hart of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel

You probably don’t remember a little blog post I wrote three years ago about Hart of Dixie. The link is here. And I still feel the same way. That the show just never quite lived up to its potential. And a large part of it might be that the show has several fundamental connections to The O.C. The O.C. nailed it with almost every episode. Maybe I just never got used to the slower feel of things in Bluebell. Hell, the first season was over before I realized I was supposed to have paid attention to the background townsfolk every week. That made re-watching season one, and watching new episodes going forward, much more enjoyable.

Josh Lucas & Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Josh Lucas & Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

A few weeks ago, I was daydreaming on a cold Michigan winter day about sunny Alabama (or at least as it is portrayed by various other location shoots on my television) and a thought occurred to me:

Hart of Dixie and Sweet Home Alabama have a few things in common.

1. They both feature petite career women from the big city.

Rachel Bilson as Dr. Zoe Hart and Reese Witherspoon as Melanie Carmichael, hoity-toity fashion designer. And in both cases, the big city is NYC.

2. They both feature a blond guy who looks amazing with his shirt off.

Wilson Bethel as Wade Kinsella and Josh Lucas as Jake Perry.

3. They both include a dark-haired man as the “logical” choice in the love triangle.

Scott Porter as lawyer George Tucker and Patrick Dempsey as rich guy Andrew Hennings.

4. The lead female in both instances seems to only be sure of her “bad boy” choice once he makes something of himself. (Which, HELLO, totally NEGATES the “bad boy.”)

Wade gets series about owning his own bar, while Jake takes his love of glass to the next level.

5. They both include weddings affected by storms.

George and Lemon’s wedding was pushed from the town square into the old, rundown fire station, until it was eventually called off altogether. Melanie runs from her groom Andrew as the winds pick up and the rain starts to pour.

Lesson to be learned here: No outdoor weddings if you are a fictional character in Alabama.

6. They both include a friend with a big mansion house.

Lavon’s large mayoral mansion is the setting for many of the high-jinks in Bluebell, including the guest houses where Wade and Zoe reside.  Melanie holds her ill-fated wedding with Andrew at the Carmichael estate.

These are just a few of the things I noticed off the top of my head.

I will be very sad to see Hart of Dixie go. It may not have always fulfilled my craving, but I faithfully watched it every week. Sometimes Hart of Dixie nailed it. Like when Wade has to sing Crazy Earl down off the roof, and we discover that Crazy Earl if actually his father. Or when Zoe makes a date with the mysterious stranger in town, only to find out he is Wade’s brother.

I don’t know what the writers originally planned for Zoe’s love life, but it was always Wade for me. ❤

Zoe playing doctor with Wade

Zoe playing doctor with Wade

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Things That I Wish Were Better Than They Actually Are

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Are you ever disappointed in something? You were so excited to see or get something, and then it was just a big letdown? Here are a few of my personal examples.

My number one example of this is the movie The Lake House, starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. I love me some Sandra Bullock (especially in Miss Congeniality, The Proposal, and of course, While You Were Sleeping). I love me some Keanu Reeves (Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Point Break). I love me some Sandra and Keanu together (Speed). I love me some romantic movie (Hope Floats, Sweet Home Alabama). But The Lake House? I always finish it with a big “Eh”. It just is never the movie that I wish it could be. I keep watching it, hoping it will turn out better next time. But it doesn’t. It even has a dog, which usually makes any movie better.

Maybe the Time Travel confuses me too much. Or maybe the leads lack the right chemistry? Or a bad director? Or the cover art on the DVD case is too teal? There is a chance that it is because I could never seriously believe Sandra Bullock as a doctor. I have some trouble believing her as a bitch in The Proposal. But she raps and gets to kiss Ryan Reynolds, so I let it slip.

I also feel this way every Monday when I watch the CW show Hart of Dixie. In my house, it is known as the bad doctor show.

I will say: Honey, I want to watch something at 9PM. But it is the bad doctor show.

Honey will say: Aw, that show with the female doctor. That is the only show you watch I really can’t stand.

So, why do I keep watching it, do you ask? Well, at first I thought it was because I was waiting for Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) to come to her senses and quit pining over George and pick the wonderful (if hillbilly) Wade (Wilson Bethel). But then I realized Wade is way too good for Zoe. Zoe is rude to him like all the time. Then I thought I was watching it because Jamie Pressley is so good on there. Then I remember I am watching Jaime King doing a damn good Jamie Pressley impression. (Am I the only one who remembers when she went by James King and dated Kid Rock?) Then I thought maybe I was waiting for Zoe to leave town and the show could go on without her featuring the rest of the quirky cast going about their daily Bluebell business. But, then I realized the truth. Being that the show was created by Josh Swartz and Stephanie Savage (of The O.C. fame) and stars Bilson, I am just waiting for her to snap in one episode and turn back into Summer Roberts, the character she played on The O.C.

Yes, I have trouble letting go.

That leaves me to my third major repeated disappointment. Hello Kitty licensed products. Just the sight of Hello Kitty’s face brings a smile to my face. It lifts me up on a low day. So, I feel like if I surround myself with Sanrio products featuring her image, that I will be a happier person living a happier life. Except that Sanrio licenses her image to horrible manufacturers! After I had a Hello Kitty sandwich maker that was useless due to the absence of a floating hinge, I made a new life rule never to buy anything else with Hello Kitty’s image. If I can help it. Most recently I slipped and bought a Hello Kitty soap dispenser. As it didn’t have a barcode on it, I believe Meijer incorrectly gave me a deal on it. I figured “How wrong can you go designing a liquid soap dispenser?” It turns out it is rounded on the bottom. Oy. On the bright side, they say we shouldn’t use anti-bacterial soap because it will create super bugs. I told my asbestos friend that I was pretty sure the pink, glittery, bubble-gum scented soap that comes out of Hello Kitty isn’t anti-bacterial. Her comment? “It probably isn’t even soap!”

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My Love of Ryan Atwood & All Things O.C.

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I was recently watching the FOX 25th Anniversary Special, where they showed clips from shows both successful and failed. There was one show which seeing only a tiny clip almost reduced me to tears. That masterpiece?

The O.C., bitch!

It was 2003. I had heard ads on my radio station for a few days about some new FOX show. I just knew in the ads some Ian Ziering wannabe belted out “Welcome to the O.C., bitch. This is how it’s done in Orange County.” I had no plans to watch it. I didn’t even pay attention to when it would be on.

I found myself that night with my TV on FOX at 8pm. A show began with a teenage boy in a car his older brother was stealing. The car crashed and the police arrested them. The teenage boy met with his lawyer with large eyebrows. He was released into his dysfunctional mother’s custody. She took him home, just to throw him out of the house. The teenager stands at a bank of payphones (imagine!) calling everyone he knows. As his options run out, he calls his lawyer’s cell. “California” by Phantom Planet builds, as the teenager and the lawyer travel from the gritty darkness of Chino to the blinding wealth of Newport Beach in Orange County.

What followed is the best pilot I have ever seen. I always say it could stand alone by itself as a mini-movie and feel complete. The characters stayed true in the series that followed to their personalities in the pilot. Sure, their characters evolved. But their weren’t radical changes or recasting (save for Kaitlin Cooper). Heck, the actress who played friend Holly probably thought she was done for after the first season, not appearing in season two or three, only to be brought back as an almost regular in season four.

I have to admit that Oliver was the worst character on The O.C. I guess Josh Schwartz thought the show needed a villain, but ugh. Later, I also would not like Volchok (Cam Gigandet). But that is what he was supposed to be—skeezy and slimy and bad.

Sometimes I get to the Oliver episodes and skip ahead to season four, which is the awesomist season ever! I could totally be happy if all my other O.C. discs evaporated and I could just watch the pilot and season four. I didn’t realize that I didn’t really like Marissa until she was gone. She seemed so ESSENTIAL. Until she wasn’t. It was worth it to sit through three seasons of her to be able to watch Ryan’s pain in the first episode of the fourth season, title “The Avengers”. Ryan has sunk so low that he has moved out of the Cohen’s pool house and is living in the back room of a bar. And cage fighting. All bloody and sweaty. And hurt and wounded and needy. Thriving on the physical pain as the only way to cope for his mental pain. All to the sound of “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo. And he has a Jeep Wrangler. Mmmmm…Down girl:) Of course, it gets all resolved with a Seth comic book (graphic novel). Cage fighting and comic books, you say? In the magical world of The O.C., it really all worked and was very logical. I feel as though The O.C. really hit their stride in season four. Too bad everyone but me had given up on it by then.

Yummy


I like Taylor Townsend. She is needy, teacher’s pet, a goody-goody, clutching on to even the tiniest bit of affection and blows it out of proportion. She is not a character that anyone should like. She slept with the evil Dean of Discipline and made the Core 4’s (I hate that term) life a living hell. When it comes down to it, she is a big dork. But I do like her. Because if I was zapped through my TV into their Orange County, I would be Taylor. I would be the one not as cool as everyone else. The one who has never been to a high school party or played seven minutes in Heaven. I probably wouldn’t run off to France and marry a French writer. But I digress. Taylor has an apocalypse kit. She isn’t afraid to don a groundhog suit to stalk the one she loves. I love that she had the courage to tell her mom she is a bitch in the alt-universe. Because she is a bitch.

Tijuana


I love things that come full circle. I love scenes that harken back to earlier ones. I love scenes that pay homage to the series mythology that already stands. This was common on The O.C. Ryan carrying Marissa was a big one. He carried her in the pilot into the pool house while she was passed out to the sounds of “Into Dust” by Mazzy Star. He carried her in Tijuana when she overdosed on pills out of the back alley to the same haunting song. Ryan carries Marissa again after the car crash that will result in her death, but this time to “Hallelujah”. “Hallelujah” was a commonly used song on The O.C. during the scenes of loss, especially the version sung by Jeff Buckley. As Ryan carries her from the burning car, they actually fade the Pool house and Tijuana scenes into the current one. They often return to the shot of Marissa standing on the sidewalk in the cul-de-sac waiting for Luke, as Ryan looks back at her (from when he leaves Newport in the pilot, only to return again in episode 2). They make reference and return to the site of “The Model Home” several times, lastly the night of Marissa’s death. The series final episode uses the actual score from the pilot (I must admit I never noticed this. I learned it on the extras.). My favorite is how this episode shows Ryan in the future approaching a kid who appears in distress at a similar bank of payphones as seen in the pilot and offers him assistance. The scene is beautifully perfect. Except that no one has payphones anymore.

Car Crash


I bawled like a baby for like an hour the night The O.C. went off the air. You might not understand why, but let me try to explain. TV always felt like my family. A huge piece of that was the show Friends. Every Thursday night, there were my Friends. The O.C. came along just as Friends was ending. I had new friends. So, when The O.C. ended, I cried not only for The O.C., but also for ten years of Friends. And all the TV that had come before that was close to my heart. I felt like my empty life was crashing down on me. I felt empty and alone. It was almost indescribable.

Series Finale


One more thought: I always thought of One Tree Hill as a crappy second-rate O.C. rip-off (Truth: I have never watched One Tree Hill in my life). So how did The O.C. get cancelled after four seasons and One Tree Hill is still on? As Seth said, “Turn this into a body swap comedy, we could have squeezed another year or two out of this.”

If you want to see my Ultimate O.C. Playlist, click on over to the I’m not stalking you. Facebook page.

And now, I present to you…

100 Reasons I Love The O.C.

1. Benjamin McKenzie is hot as Ryan Atwood.

2. While Ryan Atwood was only supposed to be like 15, Benjamin McKenzie was almost the same age as my husband.

3. About half the music on the show was awesome.

4. Regis Philbin’s daughter was one of the show’s writers.

5. They actually brought up the fact that Peter Gallagher has freaky big eyebrows. Like twice.

6. Summer’s “Ew”.

7. Summer’s “You wanna pee? I gotta pee.”

8. The fact that four members of the cast of “Twilight” were on The O.C. Three all in the same episode, “The Heavy Lifting”.

9. Todd the waiter in the pilot gets to be a major player in the finale.

10. The use of everything is circular/comes back around.

11. Christmukkah.

12. The fact that Ryan finally fell in love, but unsuspectingly with his guardian’s illegitimate step-sister. (I don’t like that this prevented them from being together.)

13. Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) played Ryan’s father.

14. While I hated Gary Grubbs on Growing Pains, he was excellent as the Bullit (Bang!) on The O.C.

15. They went a step further for the season four Christmas episode than a simple “It’s a Wonderful Life” rip-off. They made an entire alternate universe.

16. The reoccurring homeless guys in season four.

17. The never-ending stream of social events.

18. The Area 51 alien rave.

19. Atomic County and Kid Chino (and Little Miss Vixen, The Ironist, Cosmo Girl…)

20. “California” by Phantom Planet.

21. I stood behind Phantom Planet in the cafeteria line at work.

22. “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Jem.

23. “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo.

24. Julie Cooper-Nichol-Cooper-Bullit-Atwood.

25. The tobacco-chewing, thong-wearing, Julie living in a trailer.

26. Taylor Townsend.

27. Summer dressed as Wonder Woman.

28. Anna saying “Oh my God. I made you a comic book. What am I, eight?”

29. Kirsten running the Newport Group.

30. Julie running the Newport Group.

31. Caleb running the Newport Group into the ground.

32. Sandy suing the Newport Group.

33. Ryan interning at the Newport Group.

34. Seth burning the Newport Group to the ground.

35. Taryn – Head Newpsie.

36. Newpsies.

37. Newpy-weds.

38. The Six-Pack Pack.

39. Pancakes.

40. Flapjacks.

41. GEORGE.

42. Sadie.

43. Hailey Nichol.

44. Jimmy Cooper, who couldn’t do anything right, no matter how hard he tried.

45. Both Kaitlins.

46. China-“It’s just not right for a little girl to love a bald pony.”

47. Ryan and Seth’s reaction to the new Kaitlin.

48. Summer’s reaction to Marissa’s death (“The Metamorphosis”).

49. Summer realizing her environmentalism isn’t just a phase.

50. Che`!

51. “Lazy Eye” by Silversun Pickups.

52. The Diner.

53. The Bait Shop.

54. The bi-sexual bartender at The Bait Shop.

55. The mall.

56. El Paco Quapo.

57. Surfing.

58. Sailing.

59. Tahiti.

60. The Summer Breeze.

61. Newport.

62. Chino.

63. The pool house.

64. “lil’ bitch” carved on Sandy’s car.

65. Sandy Cohen.

66. Kirsten Cohen.

67. Kirsten’s drunk driving accident with the garbage truck.

68. Kirsten’s intervention.

69. Kirsten and Julie starting New Match.

70. Team Atwood vs. Team Bullit.

71. Kirsten finding out Julie turned New Match into a prostitution ring.

72. Julie having a case of “The Franks”.

73. Ryan and Taylor’s 7 minutes in Heaven.

74. Taylor stalking Ryan and keeping an “esthetically pleasing scrapbook” of all the details.

75. Luke’s gay dad.

76. Kirsten announcing she is pregnant (Oh, shut up! It isn’t a spoiler when the show has been off the air for four years!).

77. Mail truck! Mail truck! Mail truck!

78. Hello Kitty calendar.

79. Mermaid Inn.

80. Cotillion.

81. Dawn Atwood.

82. Theresa.

83. “You know what I like about rich kids…” BAM! “Nothing.”

84. [My hand hurts.] Ryan’s Jeep Wrangler.

85. The model home.

86. “Marissa has only one true love. And he looks a lot different in a wife beater.”

87. The Nana.

88. Ryan carrying Marissa.

89. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley.

90. “Into Dust” by Mazzy Star.

91. Harbor School.

92. Chris Brown’s bad acting.

93. Seth Cohen.

94. “Night Moves” by Bob Seger.

95. Holly’s beach house.

96. Anna Stern.

97. Yakuza Prep – “I watch it every night before I go to bed. It helps me unwind.”

98. How Benjamin McKenzie acts by looking out the corner of his eyes the entire first season. Many, many times per episode. It would make an excellent drinking game.

99. Luke.

100. “Welcome to The O.C., bitch. This is how it’s done in Orange County.”

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