B+

Raising Hope: "Baby Fat"

B+

Raising Hope

"Baby Phat"

Season 4, Episode 17
B+

Raising Hope

"Baby Phat"

Season 4, Episode 17

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“Seeing what a good father you are is what made me fall in love with you,” Sabrina tells Jimmy toward the end of “Baby Phat.” Anyone who’s been hoping for some clarity on this very point for the last two years will take this nugget of information and be grateful for it. It’s a nice thing nowadays whenever Raising Hope remembers that it has more than one married couple in it, let alone when it tries to shed some light on what they mean to each other. As a bonus, tonight’s episode even follows them into the bedroom. They don’t get very far, but it’s good to know that they’d like to. Burt and Virginia shouldn’t have to be the only married couple who are still way the hell into each other, either on their own show or the entire Fox network.

Those concerned with the decline of traditional morality in America will be relieved to know that Jimmy and Sabrina aren’t just trying to squeeze in some sexy time together for its own sake, though I’m not sure why such people would be either watching the show or reading this site. They’ve decided they’d like to have a baby. Shannon Woodward, in particular, is to be applauded for convincingly making this seem like one sexy proposition. She looks and acts really avid to get down and get pregnant, but then, her decision to go for it happens to arrive just as the clock is ticking down on the annual 72-hour window when she’s at her peak of fertility. She flashes her best misty-eyed grin and stretches out across the bed, and the spell isn’t broken even when she says thinks like, “My lady eggs are all dressed up and ready to go the ball.” For his part, Jimmy can just barely spare enough blood for his brain to contribute the thought, “One reason I support your theory is that it means we can have sex right now.”

Well, not right now, as it turns out: Burt and Virginia have accompanied Barney to a weekend retreat, leaving Jimmy and Sabrina to watch the house and tend to Maw Maw and Frank, both world-class spell breakers. It’s not much of a surprise that Maw Maw is apparently blessed, and cursed, with the ability to teleport herself into any room where two people are attempting to have sex, but the major revelation of the night is that Frank routinely pops into the Chance residence whenever he’s frightened. Standing in for Burt, Jimmy sits on the couch with Frank, who’s in his jammies, and slowly rocks him to sleep, then has to gingerly slip his finger out of Frank’s tongue without waking him up—a top contender for TV Image Of The Week, and one that True Detective and Hannibal would both kill for. It also makes you think that “what a good father” may actually be underselling it a bit.

While all this heartwarming mishegas is going on, Burt and Virginia are discovering that Barney’s “retreat” is actually a fat camp, and that he’s Photoshopped pictures of them looking morbidly obese and brought them along so that he can take credit for their weight loss. This plotline ends in tears when the Chances, frustrated by the healthy food on tap at the camp, go through junk food withdrawal, but before it gets there, there’s a touching moment when Burt persuades Virginia to go along, because he can see how their example gives the campers hope. “We could be figures of false inspiration to people,” he says. “Like Lance Armstrong!”

Stray observations:

  • Did I mention that Jimmy and Sabrina get to talking about having a kid after he’s wandered into the living room holding her ovulation kit, saying “I don’t know what game this is, but it kind of smells like pee.” She explains that she used to use it to make extra sure she didn’t get pregnant by her loser ex-boyfriend Wyatt. Jimmy asks why she still has it. “Because,” she says, “the pharmacy has a very firm ‘once peed on, no returns’ policy.”
  • Lots of good ideas for homemade beverages in this episode. In order to stay full of pep during the challenging planting season—when Burt has more lawn jobs than usual, and Virginia has to pull double shifts to pick up the slack from all her colleagues who’ve temporarily abandoned the cleaning company in favor of lucrative farmhand jobs—the two of them load their shopping cart with candy and junk food and make their own energy drinks. Sabrina, for her part, prepares a concoction called “conceivabili-tea,” which is “supposed to activate all our fertility channels.” If the recipes aren’t available on the Fox website, then the network just deserves to go under.
  • The perfect Cloris Leachman line, pretty much: “A magician never reveals her tricks. Also, I have no idea how I got here.”

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