Review: 'Raising Hope'
“Raising Hope” is the kind of edgy comedy I want to see on TV. I don’t want to spoil anything because you should experience it fresh like I did, but I could not believe what I was watching. They’re putting this on TV?! And they should. It’s the same half hour whether they go crazy or play it safe, so just go crazy.
The setup it takes to make Jimmy (Lucas Neff) a single dad is outrageous. By about 10 minutes in, I couldn’t believe how far they took it. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to do this every week, but I hope so. Aside from the shocking dark comedy, the humor is just joyfully immature. They say “wiener” and that makes me smile. The characters’ behaviors are so outrageous and politically incorrect, only Fox would put this show on.
Jimmy is a well meaning goofball. He’s clearly not going anywhere, still living at home in his 20s and working for his dad, Burt (Garret Dillahunt). Burt is so immature I didn’t realize he was the dad at first. They’re introduced doing landscaping work and Burt messes with his sons like an alpha male older brother.
His mom, Virginia (Martha Plimpton), mispronounces words because she’s not been educated to how you say things correctly. They live in Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman)’s house, and Maw Maw is senile except for a moment of clarity that passes and she goes back to being a funny senile old lady.
The show offers a more creative view on raising a baby than the Hollywood movies on the subject. This family is aggressively doing it poorly. They endanger the baby and that’s good comedy. They are honest about what a pain in the ass a newborn is, none of that Nine Months/Three Men and a Baby adorable propaganda.
Even the characters we’ve seen before, like the Alzheimer’s grandma and the harassing father figure, have the edge that makes those archetypes funny. They’re not trying to play nice so everyone still likes them. Mike (Skyler Stone), the party animal brother, and Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) the sarcastic Jons checkout girl, don’t do much yet but they get a few laughs each.
What really works though is how sweet the show is. As silly and unredeeming as the characters are, they ultimately have moments of real humanity. And it’s sincere humanity, not that very special moment at the end of a sitcom after everyone’s been insulting each other for a half hour. They do something real and you see that someone can be compassionate 1% of the time. It’s almost like even the heart is sort of wrong, and that’s all part of the Fox comedy edge.