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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Raising Hope: “Killer Hope”

Illustration for article titled Raising Hope: “Killer Hope”
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Tonight’s special bonus episode brings back Amy Sedaris, boiling over with malicious glee, as Virginia’s self-made bitch of a cousin, Delilah. She makes her first appearance in a DVD transmission announcing that she’s getting married to her military-stud beau in Vegas; the video includes animated Disney-style birds flying out from under her skirt and a QVC-style showcasing of the scary-looking rock on her finger, which her future hubby personally liberated from Saddam Hussein’s stash of crown jewels. (“Don’t tell me that war was a mistake!”) It’s always great when Sedaris is in the house, not least because it gives Martha Plimpton the incentive to find new and thrilling ways to arrange her facial features in ways that indicate that she is, as William Sanderson once put it on an old episode of Newhart, mad enough to stomp bunnies. Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt make a great team because they’re able to abuse and annoy the hell out of each other while always making it seem believable that they really do love and are devoted to each other. Plimpton and Sedaris are… well, they’re that other kind of great team.

Delilah’s mission in life has always been to make her cousin feel like a loser, but this fairy-tale Vegas wedding crap really hits Virginia where it hurts. Years ago, in the mist-shrouded past, Virginia managed to snag Burt, the one time she was able to beat Delilah out for something she’d wanted. That led to the two of them tying the knot at the county courthouse, with a bun in Virginia’s oven and a hairy guy standing behind them, wanting to know if he was in line for the needle exchange program. Sure, the time spent together since then has been pure bliss, but when Virginia hears Delilah bragging about her wild-oats youth and guesstimates the cost of her dream wedding in her head, she can’t help but look at Burt and wonder if maybe, somehow, she broke him. She can’t even take Burt to Vegas for the wedding, she explains to Sabrina, on account of his addiction to gambling. “Apparently,” sniffs Burt, deeply stung, “Virginia is addicted to making me look bad in front of company.” It’s a funny line, and it also serves the added purpose of confirming that Sabrina is still company in the Chance household and we didn’t all miss an episode where she officially moved in. Maybe the grocery-store set burned down.


Luckily, Virginia decides to go to the wedding, with Burt and Jimmy (and also Sabrina) in tow, after being visited in her dreams by “naked Obama” and the donkey from the Shrek movies. (She also consults a Magic 8-Ball, but it “says ‘Ask me later’, and I don’t have time for that.”) Preparing to hold her own in the company of Delilah and her rich shrew friends, she also applies a spray-on tan that really brings out her latent resemblance to an Oompa-Loompa, but for better or worse, it washes off in the hotel shower before Delilah has the chance to comment on it. Sabrina, resplendent in a shimmery dress and fake Russian-bride accent, has invited herself along because her boyfriend Wyatt once visited Vegas and, taking an advertising slogan to heart, has always refused to divulge what he got up to while he was there. Now, she’d like to have something to keep to herself, creating a situation perfectly calibrated to give Jimmy yet another golden opportunity that he will prove to be too much of a gentleman to act on.

I have, at best, mixed feelings about this. I actually used to have a soft spot for Wyatt. I figured that if a rich college boy from the right side of the tracks was trying to maintain his relationship with a small-town checkout girl, he must have hidden depths. Now that it’s been revealed that Sabrina, too, comes from money, and that they must have originally gotten together because they already ran in the same party circle, my feeling is, “Screw the prep boy, and godspeed, young Jimmy.” It may be a moot point, given that it’s starting to look as if Wyatt’s face, like Sabrina’s Supercuts hair and Maw-Maw’s chronic dementia, may be one of those things we’re not going to be seeing on Raising Hope again. I hope he wasn’t passed out inside the grocery store when it burned down.

Both Virginia and Sabrina figure in my favorite scene, in an episode that has a few candidates for that title. They and the other women are gathered in Delilah’s hotel room for their wedding-eve hen party. Everybody is taking turns playing some variant of “Truth Or Dare” where people claim not to have performed some shameful or embarrassing act. Smirking directly at Virginia, Delilah purrs, “I never got knocked up in high school.” “Fine,” says Virginia. “I never stole Delilah’s teenage crush and rocked his world in the wade pool until he forgot she even existed.” There is no need to alert the ladies who haven’t met Burt to the fact that it is not the greatest trick in the world for him to forget that someone or something exists. Meanwhile, Burt and Jimmy are downstairs in the casino, performing small favors for strangers in the hopes of collecting enough small change that Burt can offer to remarry Virginia beneath the romantic Nevada stars. In the sweet finale, Jimmy reflects that “Dad wasn’t able to buy Mom the wedding she never had, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t steal it for her.” Then he adds, “Turns out you don’t have to spend money to give someone the day they’ve always dreamed of,” which is basically the exact same message, just reworded into something better approximating Cosby-speak. When you live the way these characters do, you learn that it never hurts to cover all your bases.

Stray observations:

  • “Damn. Chickens with DVDs inside ’em. Technology’s movin’ too fast for me.”
  • “We are sparing no expense, since my Air Force officer just got a big, fat bonus for… well, I can’t tell you why, but let’s just say the Israelis are gonna get blamed for it.”
  • “I used to be a wild man, before this little ball and chain came along and threw a blanket on my party fire.”
  • “Whatever lie you want to go with is fine by me, I’m just glad you’re here.”
  • “Gosh, Virginia, you look so shocked. Oh, I understand. You’ve never seen a husband paying a check before.”

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