Sometimes I get to a party really late. Luckily I’m only one season late. Lemme rephrase. Sometimes I by-pass television shows and sometimes it’s because I just didn’t like the pilot and never moved on. Sometimes this leads to me just coming-out and saying ‘I was wrong’ like I did with Veronica Mars. Other times, I hit a brick wall. (Like I did with AMC’s Mad Men – I’ve still not watched any more beyond the Season 1 finale.) The other night, I had plenty to watch. I was behind on Burn Notice, I was behind on TerraNova and don’t get me started on the pilot to AMC’s Hell on Wheels. But I wasn’t in the mood for any of those shows. It occasionally happens. And my old standards of pulling out Frasier, Scrubs, Futurama or Everybody Loves Raymond didn’t appeal to me. I wanted something fresh. And funny.
Lo-behold, on Netflix streaming was Raising Hope Season 1. A show that, I disliked the pilot so much that I just stopped and matter of factly, it fell between the cracks last year during review time. (Note: yes, I was a bit of a jerk about it.) Cut to now. Ever since last year, a co-worker (or four, actually) have done nothing but praise the show as hilarious. And I don’t know. I just didn’t find much in the pilot that funny. I got that the charm of My Name is Earl was there, but beyond that, apparently it’s another case of Nick throwing his hands up in the air and saying “I didn’t ‘get’ it”. This time though, I was desperate. It was Parks and Rec or Raising Hope (I am still not done with Season 1 of Parks and Rec and having my fair share of problems getting past it) and luckily I chose Raising Hope.
The show is about the Chance family, and in particular the in’s and outs’, up’s and down’s in raising the newest member of the Chance family , Princess Beyonce Carlyle. Er, sorry. Hope. See, The Chance family aren’t what you’d call.. well, middle class. They are upper lower-class in terms of money, but what they lack they make up in love and family. But, the Chance family patriarchs, Virginia Chance (Martha Plimpton) and (Garret Dillahunt)Burt Chance have a son Jimmy (Lucas Neff) who is sorta coasting through life. He’d prefer to be an artist and he isn’t bad at it either, but he is a Chance, and what are the chances that a Chance family member goes on to better things? Well, fate intervenes when Jimmy is tasked with getting ice cream for his family. On the way out to get ice cream, he ‘saves’ a girl, Lucy (Bijou Phillips),who just also happens to find his chivalry sexy. And apparently sexy enough to get it on with Jimmy, so the next morning, when he takes her home and introduces her to the family, Virginia quickly subdues Lucy when over the news it is revealed Lucy is in fact a serial killer. No more Lucy or problems with that right? Wrong. Apparently Jimmy knocked up Lucy and now Lucy thinks she’ll get off death row by having a baby.
Lucy is wrong. Thankfully. As Lucy is all kinds of nuts. But Jimmy is thrust into parenthood, and despite Virginia and Burt’s pleas to get rid of the baby, named at birth by Lucy as Princess Beyonce Carlyle, Jimmy’s big chance at doing something is being a good father to his child. His first act, along with Grandma Virginia, was to rename her into Hope. And from there, the story takes off.
While the pilot didn’t tickle my fancy, like when I saw it last year when it premiered, it was ‘okay’ but it just wasn’t funny. It had charm; the same kind that My Name is Earl exuded, but My Name Is Earl in the final years felt off-kilter and askew and I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe My Name is Earl had eventually wronged me of seeing a bunch of people in the same class kind of thing. But I persevered and now glad I did. Raising Hope was classically hilarious. And let me now forget about the other cast members, the biggest one, I would say would the cute as a button Shannon Woodward who plays Sabrina, the girl who Jimmy longs for.
While the show was funny, the real hook for me was the whole Jimmy and Sabrina relationship. Jimmy likes Sabrina, who works in the local grocery store, but alas, she has a boyfriend, and Jimmy, well, has Hope. Surprisingly, the two are wonderful friends, although Jimmy longs for more. The show really reaches it’s zenith with the Halloween episode, and extends to the season 1 finale.
A definite first season worthy of a buy, or for those like me who are short on cash, but not on Netflix, then Raising Hope is for you.