Shows Like Hart Of Dixie That Dramedy Fans Need To Watch
“Hart of Dixie” was a dramedy lover’s dream. The series started as part of The CW’s fall 2011 schedule and captured the hearts and imaginations of a small but loyal legion of fans throughout its four-season run. Rachel Bilson starred as Dr. Zoe Hart, an ambitious New Yorker with dreams of becoming a heart surgeon. When Zoe’s questionable bedside manner causes her to lose a coveted fellowship at a leading hospital, she finds herself working as a general practitioner in the fictional Gulf Coast town of Bluebell, Alabama.
Bluebell poses several challenges for Zoe as she attempts to settle in. She’s not used to living in a small town where everyone knows each other’s business. Her desire to be right often outweighs her ability to be kind. Plus she’s dealing with the fact that the man who raised her – Harley Wilkes, a kind doctor and somewhat of a mentor — was not her birth father. When Dr. Wilkes passes away, he leaves his half of Bluebell’s medical practice to Zoe. Over four seasons, Zoe learns and grows from the people she meets in Bluebell, and by the end, she even starts a family in the town that’s become her home.
“Hart of Dixie” was canceled after its fourth season and while rumors persisted that Bilson’s real-life pregnancy led to the end of the show, it was actually dwindling ratings that caused the CW to end it.
Whether you’re longing for an escape to a charming small town like Bluebell, craving a bit of relationship drama, or pining for fun song-and-dance numbers, here are some must-watch shows for dramedy fans who miss “Hart of Dixie.”
Ginny and Georgia
In this Netflix dramedy that debuted in 2021, Georgia Miller (Brianne Howey) moves her family to a small New England town in an attempt to escape their troubled past and live a normal life. Her teen daughter, Ginny (Antonia Gentry), the more mature and responsible one in the family, has to navigate life at a new school while also being the primary caregiver for her little brother, Austin (Diesel La Torraca).
A bonafide hit with 52 million households streaming it in the first 28 days following its release, people were talking about so much more than that cliffhanger ending. During a fight between mother and daughter, Ginny says to Georgia, “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” This had both Swift and her legions of loyal fans calling out the show for “lazy, deeply sexist” writing. That didn’t seem to affect the dramedy’s momentum, though, and Netflix renewed it for a second season.
Although it’s drawn comparisons to “Gilmore Girls” due to the mother/daughter dynamic and small-town setting, “Ginny and Georgia” has a connection to “Hart of Dixie.” Scott Porter, aka Bluebell lawyer George Tucker, also stars in “Ginny and Georgia.” He plays Paul Randolph, mayor of the Massachusetts town where the Millers are attempting to put down roots. As for that town, Wellsbury … it’s completely fictional. Filming on the series primarily takes place in Cobourg, Ontario, but also includes some sets and locations in the Toronto area.
Like “Hart of Dixie,” “Gilmore Girls” has plenty of family drama, whether it’s between mother/daughter duo Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel), or between Lorelai and her high society parents. It takes place in Stars Hollow, Connecticut, a quaint town filled with a cast of quirky folks that you’re sure to fall in love with, much like the townspeople in Bluebell.
The similarities between the two shows go beyond their small-town settings. The townsfolk all know each other — and each other’s business — often weighing in on things even when they’re not asked. While not the mayors, Taylor (Michael Winters) on “Gilmore Girls” and Dash (Reginald VelJohnson) on “Hart of Dixie” try to run their respective towns to a specific set of standards. When it comes to rivals turned friends or frenemies, the verbal sparring between Rory and Paris (Liza Weil) is equal to that between Zoe and Lemon. Town hall meetings are important social events on each series, as are traditions like the Stars Hollow Founders’ Firelight Festival and Bluebell’s Turtle Derby. Plus both shows were filmed on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, California, so Bluebell’s gazebo is the same one from Stars Hollow!
“Gilmore Girls” ran on the WB and later The CW for seven seasons between 2000 and 2007 before it was canceled, due mainly to salary and contractual issues. While the series always had a devoted fanbase, its release on Netflix sparked a renaissance while introducing it to an even bigger audience, eventually leading to “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” a four-part miniseries on the streamer.
After running into a childhood crush, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) gives up her life at a prestigious NYC law firm and moves across the country to West Covina, California, in search of happiness. A dramedy filled with elaborate original musical numbers, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has laughs, romance, awkward moments, and one of the most realistic mental health storylines on the small screen to date.
Premiering in the same year that “Hart of Dixie” concluded, it’s a bit of a miracle that “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” made it to air, let alone had a four-season run. Originally conceived as a Showtime series, The CW picked it up when the premium network passed on it. Ratings were consistently low, but a small, dedicated audience and critical acclaim helped it survive.
Bloom was already a YouTube star before the series started, but the musical numbers in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” many of them co-written by the late, great Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, became viral sensations. Season 1 ditty “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” featuring late rapper Nipsey Hussle, has amassed over 26 million views on YouTube. The songs often challenged The CW’s Standards and Practices department, so the writers found creative ways to get around the censors and still deliver edgy musical numbers. Eventually, the song catalog was large enough that Bloom hit the road with some of the cast for a “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live” tour, with sold-out dates across the U.S.
Emily in Paris
If you loved the fish-out-of-water aspect in “Hart of Dixie,” then “Emily in Paris” delivers. The hit Netflix dramedy from Darren Star (creator of “Sex and the City”) centers on Emily Cooper, a marketing exec from Chicago who is sent to work at a firm in Paris. Much like Zoe Hart in Bluebell, Emily’s perspective isn’t always welcomed by her French colleagues.
While Emily is more naive and optimistic compared to Zoe’s cynicism, one thing they have in common is falling for someone who is already taken. Much like Zoe fell for George, Emily falls for Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), hot neighbor and chef extraordinaire. Further complicating things is Emily’s budding friendship with Gabriel’s girlfriend, Camille (Camille Razat). And in the same way that Bluebell was practically a character on “Hart of Dixie,” there’s no denying that Paris rivals Lily Collins as the star of “Emily in Paris.”
Big musical moments made “Hart of Dixie” a delight, and although there are no epic song and dance productions in “Emily in Paris,” Emily’s friend Mindy (Ashley Park) gets a huge musical moment when she overcomes her fear of singing.
“Emily in Paris” was mostly panned by critics but was a hit with viewers. According to Netflix, over 58 million households sampled the series the month after its premiere, and it was renewed for a second season five weeks following its debut.
Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce
In Bravo’s first original scripted series, Lisa Edelstein stars as Abby McCarthy, a self-help author whose professional life is in turmoil after her marriage ends. But with the help of her girlfriends, she’ll get through it. “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” is a story of rediscovering yourself in your 40s while raising kids, maintaining a career, and looking for love.
Like Zoe Hart, Abby McCarthy is faced with professional challenges. Her brand is decimated after the news of her divorce, so she has to find ways to reinvent herself and stay relevant. Her journey takes her into digital media, a new world with its own set of challenges, even for an established author.
Abby’s core group of friends changes over the course of the show, with Delia (Necar Zadegan) and Phoebe (Beau Garrett) appearing throughout the series. Janeane Garofalo’s character, Lyla, leaves before the first season wraps, while Jo (Alanna Ubach) steps in and stays on until the end. In Season 3, Retta is introduced as Barbara Sawyer, Abby’s coworker turned friend and, later, business partner.
Based on the best-selling series of books by Vicki Iovine, “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce” wrapped its five-season run in 2018 after receiving a huge three-season renewal in 2016. While there isn’t a direct connection to “Hart of Dixie,” Abby’s ex, Jake (David Adelstein), is dating the star of a CW show when the series begins. Plus the series had more than its share of love triangles.
For those who loved the romantic elements and more dramatic moments in “Hart of Dixie,” add “Virgin River” to your queue. Another tale of a medical professional starting over in a new place, the series centers on Melinda “Mel” Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge), a nurse practitioner and midwife who moves from Los Angeles to a remote town in Northern California.
The Netflix series, based on the “Virgin River” novels by Robyn Carr, has been applauded for its realistic portrayal of grief. Mel is mourning the loss of her husband while also trying to move on with her life. She deals with the nuances of still feeling sorrow while embarking on a romance with someone new.
“Hart of Dixie” fans will appreciate Jack’s Grill, the Virgin River watering hole that is reminiscent of Bluebell’s Rammer Jammer, complete with a hunky man behind the bar named Jack (Martin Henderson). Much like Wade (Wilson Bethel) and Zoe in “Hart,” the sparks between Mel and Jack are epic.
In a bit of deja vu, Tim Matheson, who played Dr. Brick Breeland on “Hart of Dixie,” plays Doc Mullins, the town doctor on “Virgin River.” Doc Mullins is just as stubborn as Bluebell’s Dr. Breeland was when it came to listening to Zoe, and isn’t always open to Mel’s help.
When the Rose family — patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy), matriarch Moira (Catherine O’Hara), son David (Daniel Levy), and daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy) — lose their video rental store fortune, they move to the town of Schitt’s Creek and attempt to rebuild their lives. This Canadian comedy series was a sleeper hit that didn’t catch on with a wider audience until a few seasons in, but it went on to break records at the 72nd Emmy Awards in 2020.
While there isn’t a picturesque town square complete with a gazebo, the townsfolk in “Schitt’s Creek” are equally eccentric as those in Bluebell, but then again, the Roses aren’t your everyday big city slickers. The family comes off as shallow and self-centered when they first arrive in the hilariously-named town that Johnny bought as a joke gift for David. Initially, they’re forced to live in the town because they have no other options, but it eventually becomes their home.
An interesting parallel in both “Hart of Dixie” and “Schitt’s Creek” is that they each have a Season 4 episode that marks a turning point in a lead character’s life. In Bluebell, it’s a storyline centered around a talent show that majorly changes Zoe’s journey. In Schitt’s Creek, it’s an open mic night that hugely alters David’s arc.
40-year-old Liza Miller (Sutton Foster) is recently divorced and the mother of a teen when she’s mistaken for a 20-something by a very attractive tattoo artist. In an attempt to revive the career she gave up for the life of a suburban mom, she pretends to be 26 and lands a job as an assistant at one of New York’s hottest publishing companies. Liza not only reboots her career and her romantic life, but she also makes a new friend, Kelsey (Hilary Duff).
Instead of moving from the big city to a small Southern town like Dr. Zoe Hart, Liza goes from living in suburban New Jersey to sharing a loft with her long-time friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar), in hip and trendy Brooklyn. In Liza’s new circle, Maggie is the only one who knows her Gen X friend is posing as a millennial.
Based on the novel by Pamela Redmond Satran, “Younger” was created and executive produced by Darren Star, the same person behind hit dramedies like “Emily in Paris” and “Sex and the City.”
The half-hour series aired for seven seasons, concluding in 2021. Throughout its run, it dealt with issues like ageism and sexism, albeit through a more light-hearted lens, but it was the romance angle that kept viewers talking. Love triangles are major plot points on both “Hart of Dixie” and “Younger,” and Liza’s relationship geometry with Josh (Nico Tortorella) and Charles (Peter Hermann) pitted #TeamJosh fans against #TeamCharles supporters until the very end.
Based on a New York Times best-selling novel by Kristin Hannah, this story of two best friends and their complicated relationship over four decades should be added to your list if you loved “Hart of Dixie.”
It stars Katherine Heigl as Tully and Sarah Chalke as Kate, an unlikely pair of best friends who met as teens in the 1970s. The series follows the duo through their high school and college years all the way through to their 40s. While “Firefly Lane” leans more toward the dramatic, former “Scrubs” star Sarah Chalke’s comedic talents shine throughout the first season. For Heigl, this was her first foray into a streaming series and she serves as an executive producer as well as a lead.
A fictional story with sprinkles of inspiration taken from the author’s own life, “Firefly Lane” can come across as soapy but doesn’t shy away from taking on heavy topics like workplace inequality and women’s health. It’s also a time capsule of vintage fashion. Kate and Tully’s wardrobes are the greatest (and not so greatest) hits of the 1970s, 1980s, and early 2000s.
Critics took issue with the narrative inconsistency in “Firefly Lane,” and how it jumps between multiple timelines. That didn’t stop viewers from driving the Netflix series into the streamer’s Top 10. 49 million people watched it in its first 28 days, and it topped Nielsen’s streaming rankings for the first two weeks following its release. It was renewed for a second season three months later.
Jane the Virgin
An adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela, “Jane the Virgin” is filled with love triangles, laughs, a colorful cast of characters, and lots of heart. Set in Miami, the story begins when Jane (Gina Rodriguez), a 23-year-old devout Catholic and virgin, is artificially inseminated accidentally by her gynecologist.
When the story begins, Jane is engaged to Michael (Brett Dier) and studying to be a school teacher although she dreams of being a writer. After the accidental insemination, her life is derailed when Rafael (Justin Baldoni), the baby daddy, enters the picture. He is not only married to the highly driven and sometimes frightening Petra (Yael Grobglas), but he’s a cancer survivor and this may be his only chance at fatherhood. Raf also happens to own the hotel where Jane works and was her teen crush in their younger days. That’s how one of the most epic love triangles in TV history begins.
On this journey with Jane are her mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) — the cautionary tale of teen pregnancy that fueled Jane’s desire to save herself for marriage — and her grandmother, Alba, who helped raise her to become a virtuous, God-fearing girl.
During its run on the CW — the same network that brought us “Hart of Dixie” — “Jane the Virgin” was a critical darling with numerous accolades and awards, including a Golden Globe award win in 2015 for Rodriguez. The story came to an end with its fifth season, which concluded in 2019.
Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein), an ER surgeon, is wrongly accused of an important patient’s death and moves to the Hamptons, where he becomes a house-call doctor to an elite clientele. Working with him at HankMed is his younger brother, Evan (Paulo Costanzo), an accountant and the self-appointed CFO of Hank’s business. “Royal Pains” ventures into self-discovery territory as Hank begins treating the Hamptons’ less fortunate and treads the line between his own success and helping others.
Hank and Zoe Hart’s origin stories are similar. On “Hart of Dixie,” Zoe’s harsh bedside manner prevents her from landing a coveted fellowship at a New York City hospital, which leads her to Bluebell and its small-town medical practice. In “Royal Pains,” Hank is fired from an NYC hospital when a hospital benefactor dies in his care, and a trip to the Hamptons introduces him to the world of concierge medicine.
Launched during USA’s “Blue Sky” era with its quirky, upbeat programming, “Royal Pains” was the second-highest rated premiere on the network when it aired in June 2009, just behind “Burn Notice.” In a rare turn, the numbers increased in its second and third weeks.
The medical dramedy concluded in 2016 with eight seasons and 104 episodes under its belt. Its penultimate episode, “The Good News Is…,” will help you recapture some of those magical “Hart of Dixie” feelings.
The Big Leap
For those who enjoyed the song and dance numbers on “Hart of Dixie” — like that zombie-fied “Islands in the Stream” scene when Wanda (Mallory Moye) and Tom get engaged in Season 2 — “The Big Leap” is required viewing.
Inspired by the 2014 British reality series called “Big Ballet,” this Fox musical dramedy is about a reality show that casts a diverse group of amateur dancers in a televised production of “Swan Lake.” With the popularity of dance competition shows, from “Dancing with the Stars” to “So You Think You Can Dance,” it was only a matter of time before a scripted TV series tackled the genre.
While the dance numbers on “The Big Leap” are a huge draw, the relationship drama is equally compelling. There are even some redemption arcs at play, specifically for football player Reggie (Ser’Darius Blain) and former auto industry exec Paula (Piper Perabo). Newcomer Simone Recasner, who plays Gabby, steals every scene she’s in, and it’s so much fun to see Scott Foley play Nick, the producer/puppetmaster of the show within a show.
“The Big Leap” is highly entertaining, feel-good TV with a lot of heart, and much like “Hart of Dixie,” it’s a story about second chances.