Sweet but dim Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) finds himself a father after a cute one-night stand turns out to be a serial killer. Jimmy brings their daughter Hope home, to the dismay of his parents--Virginia (Martha Plimpton), a surly housecleaner, and Burt (Garret Dillahunt), owner of a rag-tag pool-cleaning business--who already have their hands full taking care of their addled Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman), who's prone to running around topless. Can this cantankerous household, perhaps with the help of clever grocery store clerk Sabrina (Shannon Woodward), take care of Hope? From the zippy pilot to the sublimely ridiculous final episode, Raising Hope: Season 1
is a white trash delight. The description of the basic setup doesn't capture the tone, which is an unlikely mixture of caustic gags (when Jimmy doesn't strap down the baby seat, the seat--with the baby in it--goes tumbling across the car's back seat) and multilayered character humour (on Halloween, Burt routinely terrifies Jimmy with a scary mask… but he does it because he wants Jimmy to run home and hug him). Some critics have attacked the show's arguably cruel edge, but it's the balance of the sweet and the acidic that gives Raising Hope
its unique and, if you get in its groove, delicious flavour. Plots range from baby-themed (trying to find Hope daycare, training her to sleep through the night) to pure off-the-wall (a cousin joins a polygamous cult, a faded rock star comes to town), but the interplay among the cast is always strong. Plimpton has been nominated for awards, but Neff, Dillahunt, and Woodward are all as solid, maintaining a cheerful yet sardonic tone to the proceedings. The only character who feels flat is Maw Maw; Leachman is an old pro, but the writers just use the crazy old person as an easy crutch for non sequiturs. Her infrequent moments of lucidity suggest much more interesting possibilities that, with any luck, creator Greg Garcia (who previously created My Name Is Earl
) will start to pursue. All in all, an excellent first season. --Bret Fetzer
is a single-camera family comedy from Emmy Award® winner Greg Garcia that follows the Chance family as they find themselves adding an unexpected new member into their already terribly flawed household. At 23 years old, Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) is going nowhere in life. He skims pools for a living, parties every night and still lives at home with his family, including his Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman); his mother, Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and his father, Burt (Garret Dillahunt). Jimmy’s life takes a drastic turn when a chance romantic encounter with Lucy (guest star Bijou Phillips) goes awry once he discovers she is a wanted felon. Months later, when Jimmy pays a visit to the local prison, he learns Lucy is pregnant with their baby, and after she gives birth, he is charged with raising their daughter.
Back at home, Jimmy’s family is less than enthusiastic about a new addition to the household. His parents, who had him when they were 15, never knew anything about raising a child and have no interest in trying again. Jimmy may be able to get some help from Sabrina (Shannon Woodward), a sardonic checkout clerk he met at the supermarket if only he can work up the nerve to ask her out. Despite it all, Jimmy is determined to take care of his baby--whom Virginia thinks they should name Hope.
With very few useful skills but their hearts in the right place, will the Chance family be successful when they step into the unpredictable and immensely challenging world of parenting?