Is Raising Hope going through its Glee phase? The smartly stupid comedy has taken the opportunity two episodes in a row now to address social injustice. For Halloween, Hope showed that being ignorant about homosexuality doesn’t have to mean being intolerant, as Jimmy and Burt frequented a gay bar to ask frank and honest questions about the gay lifestyle. Jimmy and Burt weren’t morbidly curious or looking to expose anything wrong about gay life; they just genuinely wanted to learn. It was a refreshing take on the topic. This week’s teaching moment was less both more and less direct. This week, Hope seemed to be examining nurture vs. nature until it veered off for a last-minute lesson about racism and acceptance.

Ostensibly, the episode is about lazy parenting and breaking generational habits. It’s something the series touches on most weeks. Jimmy reflects on how Burt and Virginia raised him and vows to do things differently with Hope, only to learn in the end that there was some wisdom in Burt and Virginia’s method after all. This week’s push and pull revolves around Burt and Virginia’s method of creating easier alternatives to basic child activities. Instead of taking Hope to the park, they set up a tire swing in the house and rock her while they all watch cartoons. Instead of going to a water park, they let her play in the sprinkler down the street. Instead of an aquarium, they take her to look at the lobster tank at the local Chinese restaurant. You get the idea.

Jimmy is distracted from his vendetta against the lazy parenting, however, when a stunt with the tire swing breaks one of his baby photos and he realizes it was folded to hide two parents and another little boy. Jimmy was adopted.

But in typical Raising Hope fashion, the cliched sitcom twist is turned on its head almost immediately, bringing us back to square one. Virginia and Burt are biological (or, as Virginia mistakenly calls them, his “biodegradable”) parents. The other family in the photo adopted Jimmy briefly before B&V reestablished their parental rights. Jimmy, who has apparently always wanted a brother, is thrilled and has Sabrina help him find the “Almost Brother” online. It turns out he grew up to be a gimmicky real estate agent and, naturally, Jimmy pretends to sell Sabrina’s grandmother’s house as an excuse to meet with him.

Eventually their encounter leads to Jimmy at the local country club, meeting his Almost Parents, and Burt and Virginia tagging along to see if they really hurt Jimmy by taking him back. It seems, for a moment, like they did. Jimmy’s Almost Brother might be a little smarmy and corny, but he’s successful and appears to have been raised in a loving, supportive environment to grow up and make something of himself. Jimmy’s nervous tick (established early in the series and reference brilliantly throughout) of eating his own eyebrows when under stress gives him away and the Almost Mother instantly recognizes him with a flashback to baby Jimmy looking up at her with only 1 1/4 eyebrow left. At first she dotes on him. They’ve missed him dearly, but are so happy to see that he grew up to be as successful as their son. They were worried, they admit, that his teenage parents would ruin him.

When Jimmy points out that they did (he’s a single father, working at a grocery store and his baby’s mother is a serial killer), all of the love goes away as the Almost Family reveals themselves as the elitists they really are. They out Burt and Virginia as imposters and tell the whole Chance family that they are just as bad as the Mexicans.

The Chances are outraged and offended. They don’t mind being compared to Mexicans, but they take offense at the negative connotation. Virgina, who works as a maid, points out that a lot of her friends and coworkers are Mexican. A Mexican waiter stands awkwardly in the background, shrugging at the country club members’ ignorance. When the next attack comes in the form a comment that Virginia’s grammar proves she must also have black friends, everyone at the table is up in arms. The Almost Family can’t believe that such “trash” is in their club, and the Chances can’t believe the Almost Family would be so racist.

The Karmic award goes to the Chances immediately when Burt almost tries the Almost Father’s alfredo pasta, but is stopped by the waiter, who insists that he can’t let Burt eat the man’s special alfredo sauce because (insert sly smile) he is Alfredo. The moral is clear and the lesson is one of Hope‘s most direct. Is this PSA twist a direction Hope plans to continue in? With Christmas right around the corner, things could get interesting.

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