Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cream of the Crop: Raising Hope

With each new television season, there's a giant new crop of television shows. Some of them are rotten, others are just okay, but a few shine as the cream of the crop. In this series of posts, I'm going to share with you the three new shows from the last year that I've watched and enjoyed.

Well, it's time for the last installment of Cream of the Crop, for this year at least. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed this series, and maybe even decided to start watching one of my selections. I apologize that this last installment is a little late. I was hoping to have this series done before the new television season began, but that just didn't happen.

For my last but certainly not least pick of the year, I've chosen the FOX comedy Raising Hope. Last year, Raising Hope aired right after Glee (this year it's Glee, New Girl, then Raising Hope), so I caught a few minutes of it here and there. I decided to check it out on Hulu, and I found myself watching all of the available episodes in one sitting.

Would you like a synopsis of the show? It's about raising Hope. Ba dum ch. I'm just kidding; I can go into a little more detail than that. The show centers around the Chance family: Jimmy, his parents, and his grandmother. Jimmy has a one night stand with a girl, only to realize the next morning that she's a serial killer. She ends up getting pregnant and has Jimmy's baby before being electrocuted. Jimmy decides to raise the baby with the help of his family. He also has a crush on his friend Sabrina. Now, all that I just told you is about to become irrelevant because it's much more entertainingly summed up in this song from Raising Hope's second season premiere (found via Entertainment Weekly).

Raising Hope works for several reasons. One of the reasons is that it doesn't look down on its characters. Sure, it sometimes mocks their blue-collar craziness, but it treats them as real characters rather than one-dimensional stereotypes. Secondly, it has heart. I know that's one of the oldest cliches that can be said about a story, but it's really true in this case. The Chase family may bicker, but at the end of the day, they're a family that cares about each other. The show often veers into dark comedy (Hope's mother is electrocuted while Hope and Jimmy watch), but it has really sweet moments. Thirdly, the twins that play Hope are among the cutest and most expressive babies on television right now.

While the characters may not be the brightest people in the world, Raising Hope is surprisingly pretty clever. It occasionally uses easy jokes (there was a vomit gag early on that really grossed me out), but many of its jokes are witty and current. On the second season premiere, there was a storyline that reminded me of a plot I'd seen on Happy Endings, another one of my Cream of the Crop picks. Not only did Raising Hope subvert the plot, but they even referenced the episode of Happy Endings (and subtly, not even by name).

Raising Hope is a surprisingly funny, sweet comedy that is well worth checking out. You might be surprised at how enjoyable it is. You can watch season two of Raising Hope Tuesdays on FOX at 9:30/8:30c. If you want to check out its first season, it's currently streaming on Netflix.

What are your thoughts about Raising Hope? Do you think it's worthy of the "Cream of the Crop" title? Are there any shows that I missed that you would have chosen as part of the "Cream of the Crop?" As always, I'd love for you to share your thoughts below.

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