'Raising Hope' Review: Sophisticated White Trash
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
After finding success with My Name is Earl, Greg Garcia is mining the same territory for his new FOX comedy, Raising Hope, premiering tonight at 9pm. And with Glee as a lead-in, it could be another solid success.
Which is good, because TV needs more of what Garcia has to offer. Many
shows are focused on rich and successful people (see the show's
companion, Running Wilde), but Raising Hope dares to look at the working class.
Following in the footsteps of Roseanne, Malcolm in the Middle and My Name is Earl, Raising Hope centers on a family struggling to make ends meet. Jimmy Chance (newcomer Lucas Neff) has a one night stand with a criminal and gets her pregnant. With the mom in jail, Jimmy is forced to take care of the baby, despite living at home at 23-years-old with hardly any life experience or skills.
Neff's winning personality make him a truly likable lead, and his family is played by more familiar faces who seem handpicked from a wide cross section of pop culture. Martha Plimpton is great as a chain-smoking, rough but loving mom. It's also nice to see Garret Dillahunt in a comedy after playing a serial killer on Deadwood and a killer robot on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. And for good measure, Cloris Leachman shows up as the senile grandma.
However, the real success of Raising Hope comes from creator Greg Garcia. He's created a new style that I call sophisticated white trash, shows about lower middle class families without much education who are still surprisingly bright and clever. Garcia doesn't look down at his characters, but instead he shows just how much love and affection he has for hardworking families.
However, this isn't a pure blue collar show, as Garcia injects just enough clever and witty jokes to make you think you're watching Roseanne, as written by Tina Fey. As an example, keep an eye on the TV the family watches following Jimmy's one night stand for an ingenious nod to Garcia's earlier show, My Name is Earl.
Raising Hope is a fun little off-beat comedy, the kind of show that deserves to be nurtured and loved just like Jimmy's baby.
(Image courtesy of FOX)