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Not to be confused with "That's the Way of the World" by Earth Wind and Fire, which was used as the show's theme song.

Early 90s hybrid of Dom Com and Work Com, from the creator of Designing Women and starring John Ritter, Markie Post, and Billy Bob Thornton. The show centered around the work and family life of John Hartman and Georgie Ann Lahti.

The first season focused on the initial relationship between the two; Hartman, an aide for the conservative Senator Smithers, has just found out that his ex-wife is now living with another woman. Out of desperation, Georgie, a very liberal journalist, begins working at Smithers' office and moves in with Hartman because she needs a place to stay. Naturally, something sparks between the two and they begin a relationship. Supporting players include brainless secretary Dee Dee Starr, John's two children, his best friend Billy Bob and his wife Mavis, and Georgie's father. They all get into some wacky antics interspersed with brief fits of anviliciousness. John and Georgie marry close to the end of the season.

The two later seasons of the show moved the action from Washington to the Midwest. Billy Bob divorced Mavis and moved to a new town with John and Georgie so that they could start a newspaper together. Practically the entire supporting cast was retooled; though John's children and Billy Bob remained, the rest were shoved aside. In their place we have sassy therapist Madeline, effeminate heterosexual oddball Lonnie, and Billy's mother. Georgie gave birth to a new child in the third season premiere.

Tropes used in Hearts Afire include:
  • Author Tract
  • Beta Couple: Billy Bob and Mavis, before their divorce.
  • Brainless Beauty: Dee Dee Starr
  • Catch Phrase: Billy Bob's "It's just a rule I have."
  • Celebrity Star: Rush Limbaugh of all people! And surprisingly he comes off pretty well.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The pilot features an older black woman who is, essentially, Georgie's mammy (though Georgie, being PC, refuses to see it that way). She disappears and is never heard from again; we later hear about how Georgie's father raised her by himself. A lesser example is the Hartman family dog, who appears in the first episode of Season 2 and promptly vanishes, save for an audio-only appearance in a Season 3 episode.
  • The Danza: John Hartman and Billy Bob Davis, played by John Ritter and Billy Bob Thornton, respectively.
  • The Ditz: Dee Dee
  • Dom Com
  • Full House Music: Not as obnoxious as in Designing Women, but it does pop up occasionally.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: John and Georgie have sex in their boss's office; he walks in on them, followed by C-Span cameramen. Next season, they make love in a changing room and get banned from the store.
  • The Other Darrin: In the third season, John's older son, Ben, suddenly morphed from a stocky blonde kid to a skinny brunette. He didn't even look like he could be Elliott's brother anymore. Briefly lampshaded when their mother comments on how much they've changed.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "That's the Way of the World" by Earth, Wind, and Fire was the source of the title and was used as the closing theme for quite a few episodes.
  • Retool: In the second season, the show replaced most of its supporting cast, moved to a new setting, and became a lot less political. It also became more of an ensemble show with more screentime for the supporting players.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes
    • The Goofball: Lonnie Gar and Strobe Smithers
    • The Square: John Hartman
    • The Precocious: Elliott Hartman
    • The Wisecracker: Madeline
  • Strawman Political: The Republican Senator Smithers is generally portrayed as an idiot, and John and Billy occasionally deteriorated into "Neanderthal Conservative" stereotypes so that they could be proven wrong by their smarter, more liberal wives. Again, this comes with Thomason territory.
  • Ted Baxter: Senator Strobe Smithers.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension and Will They or Won't They?: Mostly averted. It only takes a handful of episodes for John and Georgie to do the deed, and they're married by the end of the show's first season.
  • Work Com: Partly. Though the show largely centered on the main characters' home lives, considering several of them also worked together, there was a large focus on both aspects.
  • Writer on Board
  • You Look Familiar
    • Conchata Ferrell played John's ex-wife's lesbian lover in one episode of the first season, but she joined the series as a regular in the second season, playing straight-as-an-arrow Madeline. Both characters were therapists, but otherwise had no connection.
      • This was Lampshaded in an episode where said ex-wife visited; several people told Madeline about the resemblance and she became very anxious around John's former spouse.
    • Similarly, Beth Broderick, who played Dee Dee Starr in the first season, appeared as Dee Dee's twin sister Lee Ann in two episodes of the second season. It's stated that Lee Ann grew up there in the Midwest, but it had previously been said that Dee Dee grew up in Texas. The explanation never made sense and they shouldn't have even bothered to attempt to Hand Wave the stunning resemblance away.