Image Credit: Randy Tepper/FoxFox’s Raising Hope has already been called the season’s best new network sitcom. After one viewing, I’m prepared to dub Martha Plimpton my favorite actress on a freshman comedy. The show, from My Name is Earl‘s Greg Garcia, has a great cast — from Lucas Neff, who plays Jimmy, the 23-year-old slacker who genuinely believes that raising the daughter he fathered with a one-night stand who ended up being arrested for murder and electrocuted will give him purpose, to Cloris Leachman, who spent most of last night’s premiere in her bra as Jimmy’s dementia-stricken great-grandmother Maw Maw.
But for me, it’s Plimpton, as Jimmy’s mother Virginia, who perfectly embodies the over-the-top insanity and heart this show is capable of. She had some choice line deliveries in the premiere (“I bet you don’t even know where to go to get reasonably priced portraits,” she told Jimmy, trying to get him to drop off the child, christened Princess Beyoncé by her late mother, at the fire station), but none more impressive than when we found out that Maw Maw didn’t like that her granddaughter’s family was living with her in her home for free — when she was aware of it, that is. “She’s lucid,” Virginia told her husband Burt (Garret Dillahunt). “It’s been almost five minutes.” But as loud as you laughed at that — and the way Virginia turned a corner and sent Princess Beyoncé flying across the backseat of the car to show Jimmy why one needs to strap down a car seat — that’s how loudly you had to “Aw” when Virginia and Burt finally gave in and helped Jimmy get her to sleep by singing her the same song they played for him when he was a bay (and they were 15). There’s something oddly comforting about three people who admit their overall goal is the one all new parents start with: Let’s keep this baby alive.
Will you keep watching Raising Hope? Is Plimpton, who’s as ballsy here as she was guesting as a lawyer last season on CBS’ The Good Wife, the reason why?