Last night’s episode of “Raising Hope” (Don’t Vote for This Episode) managed to perfectly cap off the show’s first season. It was everything a season finale should be. It tied together loose ends and provided interesting character insights without relying on gimmicks or cliffhangers. It was as if they grabbed an old season finale from “The Wire” and somehow morphed it into a sitcom.
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The episode begins with a joint birthday party for Jimmy and Maw Maw. When he was younger, Jimmy used to hate sharing his birthdays with Maw Maw, mainly because the parties were overrun with her friends. But thanks to time and a few debilitating strokes, now it’s Jimmy’s friends who populate the parties.
With that, we are transported back in time by five years, to the day before Maw Maw’s 80th birthday and Jimmy’s 18th. Jimmy is going through an awkward phase, which entails dressing like a cross between Marilyn Manson and Edward Scissorhands. Burt and Virgina are afraid to talk to him.
Maw Maw, on the other hand, is still going strong. She’s banging out crossword puzzles, doing back flips, and making the family breakfast. While serving Jimmy, she promises him a very special birthday surprise.
That night at midnight, she wakes everyone in the house with an air horn, and tells them Jimmy’s birthday surprise is on the lawn. Thinking it’s a trampoline, the family runs out to investigate. But all they find are their belongings, and a locked door behind them. Maw Maw is tired of having freeloaders in her house, and now that Jimmy is an adult, she feels no shame in kicking them to the curb.
Desperate for cash, the family turns to living in their van. In order to stretch a dollar, they all head to the grocery store for “lunch.” But instead of buying food, they run a series of scams to get a free meal.
At the store, we get a glimpse of the usual gang as they appeared in 2006. Sabrina, who still has braces, is applying for a job at the store. Barney is morbidly obese. Shelley and Frank are shelf stocking experts.
Even Lucy, Hope’s serial killer mom, is spotted, along with her condescending boyfriend (Danny Masterson). I doubt Masterson will become a regular since it is implied that his character is Lucy’s first victim.
After the grocery store, the family heads over to Virgina’s coworkers home to live in the basement. However, Jimmy is banded from the house when he is mistaken for devil by the owner’s elderly, Spanish speaking mother. Rather than wash off his makeup, Jimmy heads out on his own. On the other hand, Burt isn’t fairing well in the basement, when he manages to wind up in a spitting match with home-owner’s llama.
With no where to turn, Jimmy begins hiding in the DVD return box at the store and waiting for the employees to go home. He spends his nights eating for free and bathing in the produce sprinklers.
In Jimmy’s absence, Burt and Virgina plead with Maw Maw to let them return. She refuses, and calls the family “losers.” The insult causes the couple to reevaluate their lives. The make a budget, get serious about their jobs, and start saving money to repay Maw Maw.
After coming up with their plan, Burt and Virgina head over to Maw Maw’s to start paying her back. Once there, they realize her mind is slipping after she repeatedly asks about long dead relatives. Although they are committed to no longer being freeloaders, they decide they should move in to help take care of the woman who took care of them.
Meanwhile, Jimmy’s plan is exposed by Barney, who suspected the store had been infiltrated by a gypsy. In the ensuing melee, Shelley is hit in the teeth by a can, Barney realizes he needs to have gastric bypass surgery, and Sabrina shows up a minute too late, dressed as a goth chick, hoping to catch Jimmy’s eye. Apparently, his goth persona reminded her of a character from her Twilight books.
After fleeing the store, Jimmy runs into Burt, who hides him from the cops. After the chase, Jimmy decides to go back to being himself and stop wearing the makeup. Together, they all go inside to celebrate with Maw Maw, who agrees to let the family stay, so long as they never let her granddaughter Virginia and her no good husband back into the house.
With that, we flash back to 2011, where everyone is celebrating yet another birthday for Maw Maw and Jimmy. As the show winds down, Burt and Jimmy reminisce about Jimmy’s make-up wearing days. Unaware of Sabrina’s attraction to goth guys, Jimmy makes Burt swear to never mention his awkward phase to her, lest it hurt his chances.
All and all, I can’t think of a better way for the show to have wrapped up, and I’m happy about the fact that it managed to get renewed.