A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this quirky sitcom from the creator of My Name Is Earl deals with single fatherhood (resulting from unprotected sex), exploring them within the context of family bonds and learning life lessons. Some of the humor is based on stereotypes about lower-income families, and there's a fair bit of sexual innuendo (as well as shots of characters in their underwear or partially naked -- though no sensitive body parts are shown) and cigarette smoking. References are also made to murder and capital punishment; fantasy violence is also visible. Despite all of this, the series ultimately sends positive messages about both parenthood and family.
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What's the story?
Offbeat sitcom RAISING HOPE stars Lucas Neff as Jimmy Chance, a 23-year-old pool skimmer looking for a higher purpose in life. After discovering that he fathered a baby girl during a one-night stand with a convicted killer, Jimmy chooses to raise his daughter rather than give her up for adoption. But being a single father isn't easy, especially when he's relying on his wacky family for help, including his strong-willed mother, Virginia (Martha Plimpton); his goofball dad, Burt, (Garret Dillahunt); and his incoherent great-grandmother, Maw-Maw (Cloris Leachman). Jimmy's sarcastic friend/co-worker Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) often offers her unique brand of guidance, too. It's definitely crazy, but together the Chance family figures out that while they may not be rich or perfect, the one thing they can offer baby Hope is a lot of love.
Is it any good?
Raising Hope has plenty of madcap comedy to offer thanks to the antics of its eccentric cast of characters. But amidst all the quips and zaniness is a heartfelt story about a young man who willingly takes responsibility for his child and about a family who, despite all its problems, genuinely cares enough to help him throughout this journey.
Some of the show's slapstick-like humor comes from stereotypes about lower-income families, as well as topics like teen/unwed pregnancy and aging. But these themes are offered within the context of learning life lessons, growing up, and discovering what it really means to be a parent. Best of all, the show successfully offers these lessons in a way that's both funny and heartfelt.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what's funny. Is it appropriate to use topics like murder or single parenthood to make people laugh? Why or why not?
Can humor be used to teach people about serious issues? How? Are there any issues that you think TV writers and/or comedians should never poke fun at?
What stereotypes does Raising Hope reference in its jokes/humor? Is that OK? When is and isn't it appropriate to use stereotypes?
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