Monday, January 20, 2014

Family Dynamics, Universal Truths, Unmean Comedy and "Raising Hope."

"Raising Hope"
Like Gregory Thomas Garcia's NBC comedy "My Name is Earl," Fox's "Raising Hope" is set a fictional Camden County somewhere in Middle America but with a coastline of some sort, somewhat like Springfield on "The Simpsons." 

If you aren't familiar, "Raising Hope" revolves around perpetual loser Jimmy Chance, who had a one night stand with a serial killer, resulting in the serial killer's pregnancy and Jimmy's custody of their daughter after said killer's execution. Now in it's fourth season, "Raising Hope" has truly hit it's stride, combining absurd situations, hilarious throw-aways and an ever evolving storyline with one hell of an ensemble cast. I may hate Fox News, but several of their prime-time comedies are among the best, of which "Raising Hope" continues to be my favorite.

The Chances are an under-educated family barely living at the poverty line. Burt (hottie Garrett Dillahunt) and Virginia (actual child-star survivor: stage and screen veteran Martha Plimpton in a tragically over-looked, award-worthy comedic performance) Chance live with their son Jimmy (adorable ginger Lucas Neff) in Virginia's grandmother's house in Natesville. Maw Maw (the incomparable Cloris Leachman) also lives there, but spends her time hilariously drifting in and out of reality. But I think my favorite thing about Garcia's show is it's love of familial love. There are hardly fewer dysfunctional families than the Chances. The difference is, their dysfunction is born out of love, rather than non-communication and substance abuse. 

And talk about ensemble casting! Dillahunt's sexy/goofy charm is well matched by Plimpton's very sincere and hilarious modern interpretation of Madame Malaprop. Neff's Jimmy has his own goofy charms,as well, complimented by Shannon Woodward as the over-compensatingly apologetic daughter of rich parents, Sabrina (Jimmy's eventual wife and adoptive mother of the titular Hope - the very adorable Baylie and Rylie Cregut). And anytime Ms Leachman appears, she inadvertently steals the scene, through no fault of her own, though I suspect by deliberate intention of Garcia and his writers who undoubtedly know genius when the see it. Supporting performances from Gregg Binkley and Todd Geibenhain as the hysterically weird Frank help make "Raising Hope" one of the most original and funniest shows of the 21st Century. If you aren't watching, you should.

Oh, and add guest stars like Amy Sedaris; Lee Majors; Shirley Jones; Melanie Griffith and Leslie Jordan and TV doesn't really get much more Meta. 

And from the most recent episode:

More, anon.

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