"There's gotta be more to life than cleaning the same pool over and over!" declares Raising Hope's 23-year-old Jimmy Chance. "There isn't," his mother replies, before heading out for a day of scrubbing toilets.
"I'm just drawn to the underdogs of the world," creator Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) says about his latest characters: the Chance family, four financially strapped generations huddled under one roof. "They're living week to week." And the struggles don't end there. After a one-night stand with a beautiful serial killer, Jimmy (Lucas Neff) becomes a single parent, making his own folks ridiculously young-looking grandparents. "I told you getting pregnant at 15 would pay off eventually!" father Burt (Garret Dillahunt) tells his wife, Virginia (Martha Plimpton). "It's the blind leading the blind," says Garcia, "but now they're getting a second chance to do things better."
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Just like Earl, Raising Hope is both cutting and sweet — a single-camera comedy in which the broad humor springs from real-life problems. "It might be heightened a bit for the sake of television, but the situations are ones many people find themselves in when raising a kid for the first time, or even a second time," says Plimpton. "And Greg understands the stress and terrors of that, so [the show] earns any of the edginess it has."
There's Jimmy changing — and vomiting on — his baby girl for the first time and the kid tumbling around the backseat after a wide turn: "I just thought you had to strap the baby to the seat, not the seat to the car!" cries the freaked-out new dad. Even freakier, Jimmy's senile great-grandmother, played by 84-year-old Cloris Leachman, occasionally tries to make out with him and often wanders around topless. "Sometimes it's harder to get her to keep her clothes on!" Garcia jokes. ("She's a gold mine," says Plimpton.)
For those afraid for the child's safety, try not to worry: Kids are resilient. "I once clocked one of mine [by accident] right in the head with a frying pan. He's OK! And besides, it was funny!" Garcia says with a laugh, before reassuring us all will be fine in the end. "I've read a couple things online like, 'That's sick! A child in peril? How is that going to be funny?' Big spoiler alert: The baby never dies."