Think Zoe Hart’s biggest problem in BlueBell is choosing between Wade (Wilson Bethel) and George (Scott Porter)? Think again! Or at least that was our big takeaway from a recent one-on-one with the real “heart” of the show — creator Leila Gerstein — who was only to happy to spend a few minutes during a recent Television Critics Association Press Tour Party dishing on everything DIXIE. See for yourself, after the jump.
Firstly, did you ever expect that midway through HART OF DIXIE’s inagural season you’d be responsible for creating a show that’s so successful it regularly builds upon its GOSSIP GIRL lead in?
Leila Gerstein: Well thank you. I can’t even answer anymore questions, I’m just going to stop and bask in that! I’m not sure it’s a success, but I hoped it was going to be one. I feel like I wrote a show for my demographic, one that is more WB than CW and we felt [pointing to producing partner Len Goldstein] that the show fills a void. It’s not cynical, and in this era of… what, year 1000 of this recession, I think that pure escapist television is appealing.
One thing that really stands out about the show is the compelling case the writers make for Zoe in terms of either George or Wade. Do you have a favorite?
I vacillate. Sometimes I love Zoe with Wade and sometimes I love her with George. I don’t necessarily have a favorite, or if I do, I’m not going to say it! But, I think that we want the audience to believe she could be wither either one. What’s been interesting is that I switch along with every episode. We’re not necessarily writing towards “this is the epic couple, this is who you should be rooting for.” One of the basic tenants of the show is that you can be in love with two people, because everyone on the show is kind of in love with two people. It’s complicated and sort of delicious to write to that.
As a writer, what’s surprised you the most about the directions the show has gone this first season?
I think that one of our biggest surprises was the amazing relationship between Zoe and Lavon (Cress Williams) which is not a romantic relationship. Their friendship has really become the center of the show. They are the family, the two of them sitting having late night snacks has become this emotional place for them to talk about the lessons they’ve learned throughout the episode and I feel like I didn’t know that when we were starting out. Cress Williams is amazing and he’s given so much more back to Lavon than I had ever hoped. The whole cast is incredible and Jamie [King] has brought so much nuance to the character of Lemon and seeing those two together has been really electric.
What can you tease in terms of the impending arrival of Zoe’s “father,” the hotshot New York doctor that Zoe modelled her entire life upon?
He’s coming! Zoe’s dad is coming to Bluebell, we have cast him and he’s played by Gary Cole who’s amazing. We’re really lucky to have him because Zoe has to deal with the humongous bombshell of learning that he was not her true father. There’s a lot of residual anger and feelings of conflict there.
Is it safe to assume that Zoe’s relationship with her “father” may serve as a bit of a speed-bump in terms of settling into Bluebell for good?
We lose all the humor if Zoe isn’t a fish out of water. So she’s never going to completely fit in and I don’t foresee a time when Zoe Hart doesn’t wear black, humongous high heels and little short shorts. Of course, by the end of the season she will be forced with the big choice of does she stay or does she go. I hope I’m not giving too much away! I don’t know what she’s going to choose!
HART OF DIXIE airs Mondays at 9PM on the CW and stars Rachel Bilson, Jaime King, Cress Williams, Scott Porter, and Wilson Bethel. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv