“Raising Hope” Review-Hope Rises In TV Land

Written by Spencer Sterritt December 21, 2011

The Best I Could Have Hoped For

As much as I love television, I cannot watch every show, and sometimes a show I’ve heard good things about slips by, unwatched and unloved. Raising Hope, airing Tuesdays on Fox, was one of these shows. Somehow I lived a year and a half without this delightful, simply ridiculous show in my life, and I’m still not entirely sure how I managed this.

It seems I am not the only one. Out there on the interwebs word of Raising Hope has been spreading, and ratings have improved, but it’s certainly not a commercial success. So if you’ve heard of Raising Hope, and you have always been kinda curious about it, I cannot urge you enough to watch it.

Hope Springs From The Most Unlikely Sources

The premise is simple. Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff), a 23 year old slacker, has a one night stand in the back of his van with a girl who ends up being a serial killer and gets her pregnant, but does not know it until she shows up a year and a half later with a baby girl named Hope, before getting arrested and fried in jail, leaving Jimmy to raise Hope with his poor parents Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt (Garret Dillahunt) and his great grandma Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman), all while crushing on Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) who he works with, along with a crazy cast of characters. Simple!

What’s amazing is how the show constantly fills you in on this premise, so you can randomly pick an episode, even in the middle of the season, and totally know what is going on. There are also a lot of funny faces and a really cute baby.

Plots practically pinwheel off of this premise, and every episode bursts at the seams with odd ideas, mostly stemming from Garret Dillahunt as Burt Chance. I could praise Garret Dillahunt for a month and it would still not be enough. It takes a very talented and charismatic actor to make a line like “I smuggled fireworks across the border, I gave cops a lot of lip, I dry-humped the school mascot at homecoming. Your mom claims she hates that kind of stuff, but hey, she let me knock her up” work, but somehow he does it.

The women of Raising Hope are no slouches either. There is a reason both Martha Plimpton and Cloris Leachman have been nominated for Emmy Awards for their roles, Cloris Leachman especially. Her Maw Maw is a sight to behold, a sometimes Alzheimer’s sufferer who has no problem with eating shaving cream and runs around in a granny bra.

This is the most sane Maw Maw ever looks

Ridiculousness is great, but what will really draw you in is how easily the heightened silliness becomes sweetness. It seems almost effortless, and never once is it mawkish. For example, when Jimmy was younger, Burt would always dress up and scare him. It seems mean, but then Burt explains that it was so Jimmy would run to him and give him a hug, which Jimmy had been doing less and less. The logic is iffy, but the heart is there.

[Final Headlines With The Word Hope In It]

As with any show, there are a few issues that still need to be worked out. At this point, the largest issue is that the show still relies on some cliches and conventions that have outlived their stay. Case in point-Jimmy’s love interest Sabrina. She’s an interesting but typical character. She is witty, kind of a rebel, attractive, and always comes through in the end. It is well done, but there’s nothing exciting.

Nonetheless, Raising Hope has undergone a turn around from a bad pilot to a great show faster than any show I’ve heard of in quite some time. In the end, all I can do is incessantly and annoyingly tell you to watch Raising Hope right this instant. You’ll be charmed and laughing within moments, and you will have found a new favorite show.

My Rating: 8.5/10


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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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