FOX has been on solid footing since the monster hit that is Glee, so it seems appropriate to have premier one of their more high-profile sitcoms immediately after that success…enter Raising Hope! The latest creation from the mind Greg Garcia, creator of My Name is Earl, Raising Hope is sweet, warm and utterly hilarious. One of the smartest written comedy shows, whether you watch Glee or not, you should definitely tune in and watch!
Jimmy (Lucas Neff) is a loveable schlub who wants to change his life. When he inadvertently saves a woman and has a one-night stand he thinks that’s the end of the relationship. Unfortunately the woman he saved is a murderer who is pregnant with his child and is set to be executed. With the mother dead Jimmy is all that’s left to raise the baby, and with Jimmy’s family crazy enough as it is it’ll take everything he’s got to give baby Hope the life he never had.
With Greg Garcia at the helm it’s no surprise that Raising Hope is extremely quirky and unafraid to push the envelope. Immediately after hooking up with the beautiful Lucy (Bijou Phillips), Jimmy discovers she’s a notorious murderess and she’s quickly executed. The unconventional and, at times, politically incorrect humor starts immediately with Jimmy and Hope sitting in the room as Lucy is executed with the electric chair. Moments like these make you laugh, but you’re also taken aback by how unfunny the situation is. A similar moment involves actually seeing Jimmy and his mother Virginia vomit at the sight of Hope’s diaper. It’s great to see a show that isn’t afraid to truly show raising a child, warts (in this case vomit) and all, and that the show isn’t afraid to take risks. As a 30-minute sitcom Raising Hope sustains the humor throughout and you’ll laugh from beginning to end. Jimmy isn’t a total idiot; he’s just completely naïve to the world of raising children, case in point whether the ethnicities of the babies on the jars of baby food imply it’s only for babies of that race. Audiences who have had children or even babysat will laugh at how inept Jimmy is (forgetting to strap the car seat to the car) but at the same time you see how determined Jimmy is at keeping the baby. The heart of the show is literally around Hope, and how she changes this family’s life. The Chance family doesn’t look out for each other mainly because they think they’re screw-ups but as Jimmy’s mother and father become more attached to Hope they discover family is what holds them together.
The cast for this is nothing short of extraordinary and when they get going it’s sad the episodes are so short. Neff is wonderful as the loveable loser Jimmy. The actor brings a vulnerability to the character and viewers see how totally scared he is to raise a child, but he loves her nonetheless. Martha Plimpton is fantastic as the wayward mother Virginia, throughout the pilot you get glimpses underneath the surliness of how much she loves Jimmy and Plimpton makes the character both abrasive and endearing. Garrett Dillahunt, Shannon Woodward and Cloris Leachman also have some hilarious one-liners; especially Leachman who plays the crazy grandma that everyone worries will hold onto her lucidity and kick them out.
There’s really nothing to critique about Raising Hope. It’s a quirky comedy about a dysfunctional family which should make it pretty textbook but the Chance family has a softer side to them that is seen throughout without being harped on. It’ll be interesting to see the storylines that arise throughout but the characters and script in this pilot alone make me want to keep it up with the Chances and see what happens. Raising Hope is a solid sitcom you should be watching!