Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Raising Hope raising eyebrows with "Cheaters"

     FOX's Raising Hope presented its first new episode last night in about a month. Called "Cheaters", the half hour outing dealt with two different plots that fit the title. Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman) thinks she is cheating on her husband with new boyfriend, Mel (Jerry Van Dyke), though her spouse has been long dead. Jimmy (Lucas Neff), sensing a chance to move in on Sabrina (Shannon Woodward), offers to drive her up to college and find her boyfriend, Wyatt (Ryan Doom), who they think is cheating on Sabrina. Neither story ends well for the Chances, as is often the case with this hard luck family.


     It is time for Jimmy to move on. While Sabrina is a main part of the cast, and she and Jimmy will likely be a "will they, won't they?" couple for several seasons, Jimmy is ready for another relationship in the meantime. It is getting too pathetic, watching him pine after a woman he cannot have. He is offered a date this week by Zoe (Kaitlyn Black), and turns it down because he is still thinking about Sabrina.

     But Jimmy is also his own worst enemy. He could have gotten with Sabrina, but instead helps them stay together. Jimmy and Sabrina catch Wyatt making out with another girl at a party, and begins to drive Sabrina home to commiserate. Wyatt follows, and when Jimmy's van runs out of gas, gives them a ride to the gas station. En route, Wyatt begins acting erratically, threatening a car wreck if Sabrina doesn't let him explain that he is just getting even for her accidental kiss with Jimmy on Halloween. While it is understandable for Jimmy to cave and help Wyatt convince her when faced with death, he should have stood his ground. Since he did not, he needs to find someone to occupy his time that is not Sabrina.

     There is a hopeful sign at the end of the episode when Jimmy takes Zoe up on her off to go out. Unfortunately, he also stage whispers to Sabrina, who sees them, that the other woman is "just a friend." While there is no immediate reaction from Zoe, Jimmy's behavior will sabotage any relationship he actually would be serious about. He needs to make a decision to move on before he can successfully see other women.

     It is also possible that once Sabrina sees Jimmy in action as a good boyfriend, she may change her mind about him. Wyatt is no catch. Plenty of women go for the wrong guy, and stay with him long after they realize they could do better. Sabrina is echoing this real life truth. For now, she doesn't even see Jimmy as a possibility. If he makes a real go with someone else, she could realize too late that he is the one for her. And then the characters will spend part of a season with their roles reversed.


     Maw Maw is senile, so when she meets Mel, who is equally out of it, they both think they are in the 1950's, and Maw Maw is willing to cheat on her husband to be with this new man. This begs the question, did she cheat on him before? Maw Maw does it so willingly, and with no hesitation. Is this a symptom of the disease, or a sign of the woman that she used to be? It wouldn't be all that surprising to learn that Maw Maw used to get around.

     At first, Virginia (Martha Plimpton) is outraged. Since Maw Maw thinks she is cheating, Virginia considers her actions immoral. Burt (Garret Dillahunt), on the other hand, is just relieved that Maw Maw's recent depression is lifting. They argue about the morality of allowing the relationship to go, an actual, interesting debate. While both eventually land on the side of allowing it to happen, Virginia makes some good points before caving. If you are so inclined, this episode might actually give you something to ponder.

     Mel is perfect for her, because he is in the same boat. While it is never mentioned if he is married, he is all for hooking up with Maw Maw, and then going off to war in Korea, as he believes he is about to do, and find a local girl to bed. This makes for an awkward encounter when Maw Maw is taken to his house, only to find him with an Asian woman. Neither Maw Maw nor Mel seems to know what is happening or where they are.

     On a less funny show, jokes like this about people with Alzheimer's would be offensive. Raising Hope avoids that trap because Maw Maw's family genuinely cares for her and tries to make her happy. While her disease is still milked for laughs, she is also treated kindly, and not looked down upon. Caring for a sick relative is a hardship, and Virginia and Burt do it fairly good naturedly, as much as one can be expected to when taking on this responsibility. While things are exaggerated, this series handles things in a light hearted way that sits well with viewers.

     If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Click here for all of my Current Season Reviews.

     Raising Hope airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. on FOX.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.