Throughout its first season on television, Raising Hope has quietly and hilariously grown from a bizarre premise into one of the funniest, craziest and most genuinely touching shows on television. It’s fitting, therefore, that the show’s season finale, “Don’t Vote for This Episode” chronicles a similar growth in the lives of the Chance family.

The episode, framed by Jimmy and Maw Maw’s shared birthday, takes the characters back five years to a time when there were enough marbles for both Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Maw Maw. In those pre-Hope years, Maw Maw was functional, Virginia and Burt were still mental-teenagers and Jimmy was an 18-year-old Goth who only answered to the name Drakkar Noir.

And you thought the Chances couldn’t get any less functional.

The story chronicles how the younger Chances are all forced to grow up when Maw Maw throws the lot of them out of the house. Familiar settings (including the van and the grocery store) meet up with familiar characters (almost everyone, dead and alive, seen on the show) as the family stumbles its way back together.

Some highlights:

  • There is a birthday cake that looks like something out of a slasher film.
  • Goth-Jimmy is superficially scarier than his future baby-mama, Lucy.
  • Washing machines make better roommates than alpacas.
  • Bloodstain cleaner is available in aisle six.
  • Even Dancin’ Dan, the roller-skating guy, has an origin story.

The show is surprisingly touching, considering the overall hilarity of the episode. The laughs don’t let up, but anyone who’s ever seen a loved one slide into senility will recognize the sadness of Maw Maw’s fate. The result of the combination is short and sweet without being sappy.

If there is one flaw in the episode, it’s the lack of Hope — the most awesome baby on television — from the flashback scenes. But a duct-taped diaper and some party-cuteness in the present-day framing story make up for any lack.

If you want to take Raising Hope‘s advice, “Don’t Vote for This Episode.” But you most definitely should watch it.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.