The Death of 'Raising Hope' Means the Decline of TV's Working Class
Today, Fox announced that they would not be renewing sitcom Raising Hope for another season, and the April 4 finale to the currently-running season four would serve as the show's final episode. It's not much of a surprise — creator Greg Garcia left after season three and the show was subsequently moved to Fridays, typically a death sentence for any show. And with huge hits like Glee, New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox didn't feel a need to keep the show around. Current showrunner Mike Mariano said they even planned the season four finale with this possibility in mind.
But as Boyz II Men say, it's so hard to say goodbye. Raising Hope might have had a small audience compared to other Fox shows, but it had a weird sense of humor and lovingly crafted characters. Sure, it may have slid into becoming sort of one-note in the past season (and relying a little too heavily on Burt and Virginia), but it's come a long way from its premise of a show about a boy who gets a serial killer pregnant and has to raise his new daughter to a show about a the kooky people with a heart of gold who live in the small town of Natesville.
More importantly, it was one of the few shows left that portrayed a working-class family. The Chance family doesn't work as architects or magazine columnists: they're maids, landscapers, and grocery baggers. They worry about money and they have to take care of an elderly family member. This show had a kind of realism that few shows today have, especially in an economy where the reality for many people looks a lot like the the Chance's. Right now, the only other shows with working-class families are The Middle and Bob's Burgers... and the fact that one of these shows is a cartoon does not bode well for economic realism on television.
Because frankly, television really needs that kind of realism right now. America's vast wage gap is never more obvious than when a show tries to talk about money problems. The supposedly "broke" girls on 2 Broke Girls have an apartment that came straight out of the pages of an Anthropologie catalog. And while Lena Dunham's privileged upbringing has nothing to do with the quality of GIRLS, it does show when she apparently believes that broke 20-something Hannah can afford to pay rent on a spare bedroom in New York.
So farewell, Raising Hope. We'll miss Virginia's mispronunciations, Jimmy's goth days, and the pantyhose that Sabrina puts on her head so spiders won't crawl in her ears. But most of all, we'll miss the portrayal of a highly dysfunctional family that was one of the realest things on television.