RAISING HOPE “Don’t Vote for this Episode” (Season Finale) Review

RAISING HOPE (FOX) Don't Vote for this Episode

RAISING HOPE “Don’t Vote for this Episode” Season 1 Episode 22 (Season Finale) – We jump in the way back machine for a hilarious and poignant origin story in the pitch-perfect first season finale of RAISING HOPE. It may be cleverly named “Don’t Vote for this Episode,” but I’m guessing Emmy voters will do the opposite.

When there’s a duct-taped adult diaper on TV’s most adorable baby and Burt wearing a shirt proclaiming, “I’d rather be in Virginia” in the first two minutes, you know it’s going to be a hilarious episode. What you can’t know yet is that it’s going to be an intricately plotted and exquisitely detailed examination of how Burt, Virginia, and Jimmy (I’m sorry-Drakkar Noir, AKA Black Dragonship) learned to grow up just enough to become the sweetly more or less functional family we know and love.

“Sayonara, suckers!” Lucid Maw Maw’s birthday present is a doozy and it sets up a beautiful family journey where Burt, Virginia, and Jimmy all learn not only what’s really important, but also what’s really inside them. The funny moments truly don’t stop (Burt and Virginia’s leapfrogging, Mike’s impressive porn return, Jimmy’s head weighing), but the bittersweet moments destroy me. Maw Maw’s slide into Alzheimer’s is deftly handled and Burt and Virginia’s humble, loving return complete with fake birthday money is truly moving. The Chances find strength and growth in facing and accepting their insecurities and then they find their way back to each other. Then the final push to adulthood comes out of love for Maw Maw. It’s touching but never mawkish.

All the continuity, returning characters, and callbacks to prior episodes make me squeal with glee and laugh until my sides hurt (unlike tonight’s Glee, which made me sob, damn it). Jogging Dan (love his sprawling tumble as he learns to skate); serial killer Lucy’s first murder (Hi, Danny Masterson!) at Shelley’s unwitting urging and her obsession with the name Princess Beyonce; overweight Barney hitting rock bottom chasing “gypsy” Jimmy; Sabrina’s attraction to douchey guys (“Take me away, Dark Prince.”); and Frank and Shelley kicking shelf stocking butt-at least until Frank kills Shelley’s tooth. So much backstory seamlessly and hilariously woven in is a beautiful thing.

Also fun: for the second night in a row, a FOX show makes me look away. Sure, the alpaca spitting doesn’t have quite the gory and agonizing intensity of last night’s House, but it’s still pretty darn nasty. Love that Burt spits back. There’s a fun My Name Is Earl reference with Chubby’s Burgers. The music is amazing: from “Battle without Honor or Humanity” as the Chances go out for lunch at the market (I could not stop giggling at Drakkar Noir eating the potato salad-that makeup and Lucas Neff’s deadpan expressions crack me up) and “Devil’s Haircut” as Jimmy makes himself at home to the unexpected and perfect use of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home.” This episode was obviously crafted with love.

Favorite lines:

“New York Times crossword, you are my bitch.”

“Your makeup looks nice today.”

“Can I sample some of that American cheese? I’ve always been curious.”

“I kinda doubt the devil would still be a virgin at eighteen.”

“You’re one wet washcloth from a roof over a floor over your head.”

“Gypsy! We’ve got a gypsy!”

When I first read the description of Raising Hope‘s pilot many moons ago, I had no idea that a show about a young single father raising the child he had with an executed serial killer with the help of his parents would be such a hilarious, joyous, and downright sweet ode to both family and the working class. I tuned in for Martha Plimpton, but now I love the entire crazy bunch and it’s no accident that out of all the extraordinary moments in this finale, my favorites are the simplest: when the entire extended family is celebrating Maw Maw and Jimmy’s birthday. The joyous fun is palpable and I hope it continues for many seasons.

So, would you vote for this episode? Which of your favorite moments did I miss? How did you like Raising Hope‘s first season? Let me know in the comments.