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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Raising Hope: "Bro-Gurt"

Greg Garcia, creator of both Raising Hope and the departed My Name is Earl, is a master practitioner of the high art of low humor. It would be very easy for a non-viewer to dismiss Raising Hope as a show about stupid people, but while that may be true, the writers are smart enough to use their characters’ stupidity in clever and original ways.

Tonight’s episode showcases this split between smart and stupid in grand form. The Chance family and the whole community are drawn to an invention fair promising to find the next billion-dollar idea. The audience is let in on the fact that the fair is just a scam run by guest star Patton Oswalt, but we get to watch each Chance family member as they come up with their submissions. The intelligence of the writing staff really shines in these conceptions. They are perfectly attuned to the characters and their personalities. They’re hilariously implausible, but yet believable coming from Burt, Virginia, and Jimmy.

The most inspired is Burt’s collaboration with his friend and neighbor Andrew (Ethan Suplee), which lends its name to the episode’s title. Complaining that yogurt today only comes in womanly flavors like blueberry, Burt envisions yogurt flavored like pork chops or cheeseburgers (but not turkey burgers, too girly.) When Andrew comes up with the name, the group thinks they got the competition in the bag.

“Bro-Gurt” also managed to get a funny performance out of guest star Andrew Dice Clay, playing a Simon Cowell-like judge at the invention fair, appearing via satellite. You can see the affinity, as Dice may be the most successful “low-brow” comedian of all-time. (Whether or not you find him funny, and I don’t, the man did sell out arenas.)

In addition to the normal passel of excellent one-liners and Virginia malaprops (tonight’s: “he’s going to be an albacore around our neck.”) the episode also managed to work in a major plot point in the continuing Jimmy and Sabrina non-relationship relationship, as the two got into a fight which revealed something about each of them to the other.

Oh, and did I mention that the episode subtly set up a Wizard of Oz parody that only came to hilarious fruition in the last two minutes? Now that’s good writing.

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