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With Dream Hoarders, Rasing Hope Begins to Grow On Me

By Edited Jun 9, 2016 0 0

When I watched the pilot episode of Raising Hope, I declared it one of the dumbest shows I've ever seen, and yet I keep finding myself drawn to it, like a moth to the flame. I can't seem to help watching this goofy little show about a dopey, well-meaning guy raising his infant daughter with his clueless parents and senile great-grandmother. In Dream Hoarders, the third episode, no new characters are introduced, and dim-witted cousin Mike is still out of the picture for the moment. Jimmy is trying his best to be responsible, and that involves baby-proofing the house. He is especially concerned about the pool chemicals lying around the living room, not to mention the jumble of electrical cords in the corner. His realization that this is a problem speaks well of his burgeoning common sense.

Dream Hoarders focuses on an unfolding crisis that serves as a metaphor for an issue that Jimmy believes is plaguing the family. The Chances are aptly named, since they are people who believe in taking a chance, as evidenced by their willingness to take in Hope. Yes, it took some convincing, but ultimately, this is a group of plucky optimists. Life may never get much better for them, but they're going to make do with what they have. And they're going to keep dreaming.

For Burt, that means playing the lottery. He buys a ticket every day and watches those numbers roll out on television every night, and he fills his mind with thoughts of what he might name his boat or what sorts of amenities he might put in his future mansion. Virginia, too, daydreams about a new house, and she stuffs a greenhouse with items for this future home. She works as a house cleaner, and it's not uncommon for the owners of the homes she cleans to leave perfectly good things out on the curb. I can imagine that many people would want to take advantage of that opportunity to snag some free goodies, but she does take her scavenging a bit too far. She is a hoarder, and this becomes a major problem after Jimmy teaches Hope to crawl and she wanders away under Burt's watch, winding up trapped in the back of the greenhouse with heavy objects all around her.

This is an absurd situation, yet it also feels reasonably realistic. I know that there are people who stuff storage spaces full of random objects that might just come in handy later, and the idea that a baby could get into such a place seems plausible, especially with such a distracted family. The strategies that they brainstorm for getting her out safely are amusing, and it's also funny to hear Burt talk about the explosion of words in his head as his wife encourages him to think. It reminds me of those times on The Simpsons when we see Homer's thought bubbles, and they usually are pretty nonsensical.

While Burt and Virginia conspire to get Hope out of the greenhouse without Jimmy ever having to know that she was inside in the first place, Jimmy makes frequent trips to the grocery store to visit the sardonic Sabrina. She has a very cynical sort of wit about her, but it's clear that she finds Jimmy endearing, and even though she has a boyfriend, one can't help but wonder whether the aspiring writer and the artistic guy with an array of quirky t-shirts could have a shot.

They're not exactly compatible; she's a world-weary intellectual, he's an empty-headed optimist. Their conversation this week reminded me of Tim Taylor's discussions with his neighbor Wilson on Home Improvement. Jimmy has a pathetic vocabulary, while she is a bookworm who dreams of being published herself. But in each episode, Jimmy becomes more accomplished, and in Dream Hoarders, he discovers a thesaurus and decides to make use of it as a way of impressing Sabrina. He's willing to put forth some effort, and that ought to be worth something. Additionally, this episode reminded viewers that Jimmy does have some skill as an artist. So far, the grocery store is the show's only major secondary location, and I wonder if an opportunity will soon present itself for Jimmy to do some storefront artwork or perhaps draw up some posters. I have a hunch that his frequent trips to the grocery store could turn into a chance to showcase his talent.

Cloris Leachman continues to look absolutely batty as Jimmy's great-grandma Maw Maw, though in this episode she manages to make a valuable contribution connected to her strange ability to play a perfect game of Jenga whenever They Might Be Giants' Instanbul (Not Constantinople) is blasting from the stereo. She still spends most of the episode without a shirt on; we also see her eating spaghetti and meatballs in the bathtub. In Dream Hoarders, she doesn't have much of anything to say; the majority of her actions are silent. Still, she is a very visible character.

Raising Hope has added an opening sequence that is a spoof of the Dick and Jane series, and I have to admit that it's a cute opening. The illustrations of the characters are very much in the style of those classic early readers and are accompanied by short sentences like "See Grandma clean" and "See Sabrina read." Meanwhile, having Jimmy narrate the episode by relating its events to Hope seems like a good device that allows for more introspection. This experience is changing Jimmy profoundly, and it's nice for him to have an opportunity to reflect on that. It also demonstrates that he's not quite as dim a bulb as he at first appears. At the same time, his parents are changing too, and it will be interesting to see how far they manage to come by the end of the season, if it lasts that long. I'm starting to think that it might. I hate to admit it, but Raising Hope is growing on me.



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