If the previews for Raising Hope have been reminding you of My Name is Earl lately, that's because they share a creator in Greg Garcia. And like Earl, Raising Hope is a show that surprised me by being a lot better and funnier than it looked. Unfortunately it also shares the very low likelihood of me making a point of watching it every week, but that's not to say it's without merit.
The show is about a beautifully cast white trash family -- Jimmy Chance, a boy who accidentally had a baby with a now executed serial killer; his mother, the great Martha Plimpton; his father, Garret Dillahunt, AKA Cromartie the Terminator and/or Francis Wolcott the prostitute killer; his senile grandmother, Cloris Leachman, and his rave-frequenting cousin Mike, who is not played by a famous person -- hilariously trying to raise a baby together in the same decrepit house. And though shows about the white trash experience are often awful and lazy, this one isn't. The comedy is pretty legit, the acting is great, and there are even unexpected moments of sweetness that add a little depth to the show. Not a lot, but a little, and a little goes a long way in a series like this.
Sure, I could have done without people throwing up on the baby, and topless Cloris Leachman stopped being funny pretty much before it even began, but other than that almost every joke in the pilot worked. This family thinks Charles Manson's records are good, thorns hurt wieners, McRibs and Shamrock Shakes are unbelievably aggravating to find, and that's all funny stuff that admittedly does rely on how stupid and poor they are, but in a much more intelligent way than, say, Larry the Cable Guy works this angle. And the name Princess Beyonce? Well that's almost better than my dream baby name: D'Artagnan Ambrosia (don't steal it!). Can't see why they would change it, but everybody makes mistakes, I guess.
I don't think Raising Hope is anywhere near appointment viewing, but I can definitively say it's the best new network comedy of the fall (not saying a lot, but it's worth noting), and that it actually tries to do something worth watching, which is certainly more than I can say for the completely phoned in Mike & Molly and Better With You and the awful Running Wilde and everything else I've had to watch in anticipation of these premieres. Nice job, Greg Garcia. Way to elevate the redneck genre two times in a row now.
Did you see Raising Hope? Tell us what you thought, then check out our entire fall preview!
Watch TWoP's editors discuss this fall's best new TV shows in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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