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Raising Hope 1.01 – Pilot

The cast of Fox's Raising Hope


Genre: Family Comedy

Grade: B

Verdict: Watch

Too Long, Didn’t Read: A surprisingly funny (and quirky) half-hour comedy, Raising Hope provides all the white trash jokes you could want in a half-hour.

When Fox announced Raising Hope at upfronts last spring, I wasn’t too thrilled. It looked like the worst of Fox’s three new live-action comedies (the others being Running Wilde and mideason’s Mixed Signals). Though Greg Garcia created the hilarious My Name is Earl, he also created the terrible Yes, Dear. The show starred a no-name and the concept of this down-and-out taking care of a child wasn’t too appealing.

Raising Hope isn’t going to redefine the half-hour comedy genre, but against the odds it creates a hilarious 30 minutes with plenty to laugh about.

Hope centers on Jimmy Chance (played by newcomer Lucas Neff), a man in his 20s with nothing to show for it. He lives with his parents, works for his dad at a landscaping job and his dreams seem hopeless. This all chances when he saves a woman one night while out on an errand and has a one-night stand with her. It’s unfortunate that she’s a serial killer. It’s also unfortunate that she ends up having his baby (she names her Princess Beyoncé) and is later put in the electric chair. Dark, for sure, but the way it’s handled is quite well done. Now Jimmy has a child he’s convinced he can raise, while his parents think the entire idea is a mistake (“You should just safe drop it off at the fire station!”).

Most of the comedy comes from white trash jokes made by the parents, including the effects of Jimmy’s mother’s smoking habits on his health and Maw Maw’s lucidity. Instead of being abrasive in the way that Chase was in its portrayal of Texans, Raising Hope focuses much more on satire of common stereotypes. At the heart of the entire show, however, is a family that really does care for each other. While there’s a lot to laugh about, it’s surprisingly touching in the same way that Modern Family is. One of the reasons that Raising Hope succeeds is that it’s the type of story that any family in America can relate to: the Chances are just trying to make it by and are given a huge task that they don’t think they can handle. Their willingness to raise the child (eventually named Hope) both sets up the comedy to exist and is endearing.

Though Lucas Neff is a little too doey-eyed for his role, Parenthood‘s Martha Plimpton is excellent as Jimmy’s mother Virginia. She’s just bitter enough to provide plenty of comedy, but not too bitter to make any love she shows seem insincere or out of character. Phyllis‘s Cloris Leachman is perfect as Maw Maw, the grandmother who’s still living in the 1960s until she has moments of lucidity (easily the funniest part of the pilot).

Raising Hope isn’t going to redefine comedy or become event television in the way that Modern Family did last season. However, it’s a surprisingly solid pilot that has room to grow into something that could become highly entertaining. Early ratings were very solid and with strong word of mouth, Fox could finally have a stable half-hour comedy for the first time in years.


One Response

  1. yeah my dad will like this

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