Season 1, Episode 2 (“Parades & Pariahs”)
“Parades & Pariahs” feels much more like classic Hart of Dixie than the pilot did. Luckily, the show finds its footing pretty quickly. Ditching the voiceovers and having more of the normal sets made it feel much more like the show I love. My biggest issue with the pilot is that it didn’t give a good introduction to the town of Bluebell and what makes it lovable. In this episode, Bluebell is opened up as we see more of the local establishments and meet some townies. We are introduced to the Rammer Jammer, the restaurant/bar in town that is a staple location for the show. Wade is a bartender there and most of the town seems to eat there at least once a day.
While at the Rammer Jammer we met townies Dash and Tom. Dash wears a lot of hats in town and he is always up in everyone’s business. I’m not sure if it is mentioned in this episode, but he owns the local bed and breakfast. Additionally, he loves theater and he runs a gossip blog of the town. Tom is a young and impressionable sweetheart. He is very impressed by Zoe having lived in NYC. As the season goes on we will meet more of the townies that make the Bluebell the Alabama version of Starshollow. Though I wanted to avoid too many comparisons to Gilmore Girls, it is hard to ignore that they use the same set for the town square and a lot of the townies have some Starshollow counterparts. If I had to compare, I would say that Dash is a nicer version of Taylor and Tom is a less pathetic, more earnest version of Kirk.
There are two medical cases of the week – Betty Breeland and Sheila Whittaker. Betty is the main case, she is Lemon’s cousin from Birmingham who has been recently diagnosed with M.S., though she hasn’t told Lemon or Brick. Zoe finds out and encourages her to tell them, but Betty is afraid of them seeing her differently and not letting her live a normal life. This first season has a lot of these case of the weeks that mostly serve to teach Zoe some lesson about fitting in in Bluebell. In this one she helps Betty by risking her own reputation with the town and with Brick. She already suffered a humiliation when she missed the tick paralysis diagnosis, but she is willing to go through it again with Betty to help her keep her secret. According to Mrs. Hattenbarger, this is exactly what Harley would have done. The other case is Sheila Whittaker, an older woman who Zoe at first brushes off when she realizes that all of her symptoms are made up. She suggests Sheila see a psychiatrist because she doesn’t want to enable her by pretending to treat her. However, she doesn’t really do it in the nicest way. By the end of the episode Zoe learns that to really follow in her father’s footsteps, she has to listen to everyone.
Lavon helps Zoe with her Bluebell reputation by letting her ride on his float in the Founder’s Day Parade. The only catch is she has to help Wade build it. We get a bit more of Wade’s personality in this episode than we did in the pilot. He is kind of immature and has a tendency to quit before he can be hurt. Something that we will see a lot in him this season is that he is fearful of taking risks. He would rather not play the game, than play the game and lose. When Zoe insults him, he just leaves to make her deal with the float herself. But we also see the good in him, he shows up when needed and he helps Rose to talk to Frederick Dean.
This episode was a big improvement on the pilot and gives a much better feel for what the show is like. It does a good job fleshing out the town and gives sympathy to the less likable characters. Lemon is being mean to Zoe the whole episode, and she is furious when Zoe messes up the Founder’s Day Parade. However, at the end of the episode we learn that her mother left her and Brick 12 years ago and that a lot of her obsession with these events are because of her mom. Her mom was very into all of it and it probably makes her feel connected to her. The Breelands are often antagonists to Zoe, but they aren’t evil.
Episode Grade: B
Does Bluebell Get It Right?
- The Rammer Jammer is absolutely a name that a bar in Alabama would have. It comes from the University of Alabama’s football cheer “Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer”, the yellowhammer being the state bird of Alabama.
- Lemon dresses like an old lady in these early episodes. A young girl (I think everyone is supposed to be in their late 20s) of her stature would dress much more modern.
- Zoe’s hatred of grits is offensive, but probably accurate. Most of my non-Southern friends do not like grits.
- “They say she’s Harley’s illegitimate love child “Well that explains those shorts”
- George tells Zoe that she has to bring in 30% of the business to keep her half of the practice, an important plot point for season 1.
- “Is that why you stopped our little frolick the other night? You got googly eyes for Golden Boy George?”
- We also meet AnnaBeth in this episode, Betty’s backup for the float. She is pretty minimal in this episode, but she gets pushed up to being a series regular by season 2.
- Wade is in a different house than he had in the pilot – this is the one he is in for the series. It is much better than what they had in the pilot.
- “If I hear the name Frederick Dean one more time, I’m going to glue your lips together”