Lucas Neff and Greg Garcia Talk RAISING HOPE

There hasn’t been a new episode of RAISING HOPE since December 7 (not that I’ve been keeping track or anything), but that drought is about to end when the FOX comedy returns Tuesday, February 8 to contnue its first season. It’s kicking things off with “Romeo and Romeo,” an episode that finds Jimmy (Lucas Neff) making friends with another single dad (guest star Brandon T. Jackson) only to come up against Virginia’s (Martha Plimpton) disapproval.

Daemon’s TV was there when star Lucas Neff and show creator/executive producer Greg Garcia talked about why they think viewers enjoy Raising Hope, where Greg and the writers get their ideas, and how the Chances’ world will continue to expand.

On what makes Raising Hope funny

When asked if part of Raising Hope‘s appeal is that people like watching a family worse off than them, Greg said, “Hopefully we’re hitting things are relatable to you and your family as far as the situations or maybe the husband and wife conversations that Martha and Garret get into, but I think there’s always something nice about turning on the TV and seeing people who are worse off than you and it does make you feel a little better about yourself.”

Greg also believes that the appeal of watching people worse off than you goes beyond economic status. “A lot of times we’re laughing at people doing things wrong. You could turn on Modern Family and it’s an affluent family-certainly as compared to our family-but you’re going to watch them screwing up and getting out of situations they created and our family’s going to be doing the same kind of thing, just possibly with different resources, but you’re still laughing at the same stuff.”

Lucas doesn’t think the economic status of TV characters matters. “I think there are enough people in the world that a good portion of them are going to find blue collar comedy really funny. Then, some people are going to find more affluent comedy funny. As long as the writing’s there, and as long as some things are universally recognizable in what’s happening, I think people can tune in and enjoy it.”

Greg agreed with Lucas, saying, “What’s going to keep you going from week to week and get people to keep watching this show is that this is a world that you want visit once a week. You want to see these people. So far, I think the combination of humor and heart has people watching.”

On the basic message of Raising Hope

While we often focus on the outrageous humor in Raising Hope, it’s also a show with a lot of heart, something Lucas appreciates. “I think that’s ultimately the motivation of a lot of this show is love. It expresses itself in a lot of weird, unique ways in this family, but at the end of the day, the reason Jimmy gets a job and wants to get all these nice things for Hope, and he fixes up the house, and he tries to get his parents to change their behavior is because he loves his daughter so much. He wants the best for her.”

On drawing moments from real life

Greg tries to bring a little bit of Raising Hope home with him to get new ideas. “That house that they live in, I love it. I love being down in that set. If you ever came to my office, you’d see that my office looks very similar to that set. I actually have a room in my house that we did for the kids for a playroom for them that looks very much like that set. On the wall is an orange rotary phone in their playroom. I have been on that phone and needed to press a button and not been able to do so. So, yes, I like to surround myself with the stuff that is in the show. You never know where inspiration will strike.”

The writers also take inspiration from the actors’ personalities. Lucas explained, “There’s a symbiotic thing that happens on good TV shows with great writers: they start to embrace who the actors are and make the roles more specific to what they bring. There’s some goofy skills that Jimmy has only because I do.”

Greg jumped in to ask, “Do you do animal calls, by the way, because I just noticed that in the script?” When Lucas said he had in fact mentioned doing them, Greg laughed. “Well they’re in there, buddy.”

On the inspiration for executing Hope’s mom

The premise for Raising Hope–a young dad raising his daughter after her serial killer mom is executed–is a bit darker than most network comedies would go, but when asked where the idea came from, Greg simply sighed and said, “Who knows? I just wanted to do a domestic comedy. I kind of knew the premise I wanted was this family trying to raise this baby on their own and not really knowing what they’re doing. I didn’t want the mom to be around because my fear is that I would write the mom to be perhaps a little more knowledgeable with babies and I really wanted Jimmy to have as little help as possible. To get around that, I thought about ways to not have the mom around and this is what I came up with.”

On expanding the Chances’ world

Even though the show is named Raising Hope, it’s about much more than just Jimmy taking care of his daughter and Greg said he wants to keep expanding the show. “It’s been fun to actually go down different avenues because we’re not necessarily just going to always do a story about raising a baby. They have their own struggles. They have a lot of different dynamics. So, you need to look outside of just the baby. Obviously, we’re always going to do a lot of baby stories, too, but look outside of the baby and say, ‘Well, what other stories could we tell about this family?’ So far, there’s been a lot of good stuff we’ve found.”

When asked what was coming up for Jimmy and Sabrina, Greg joked, “I don’t like to think that far ahead. I like to be surprised with the rest of you guys.” He later said, “Even though [Jimmy] has this crush on Sabrina, it looks like it’s a little bit of a going to be a long haul for him. So, we actually are not going to just have him sitting around. We’re going to have him dip his toe into the dating world a little bit and see what we get out of that.”

New episodes of Raising Hope return to FOX Tuesday, February 8 at 9pm eastern/8pm central.

You can read all our Raising Hope coverage here.

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