Saturday’s Child: Raising Arizona, Hope, and Me

First of all, let me tell you that my love of Raising Hope has only a very little to do with the fact that it stars the not-whiny gal from The Goonies all grown up.

When I was a kid my parents loved Raising Arizona, and I remember just finding it awkward and embarrassing in its near depiction of my own awkward, embarrassing family. Which isn’t to say my mom and dad wanted for kids enough to go around thieving them, but still. These folks were poor and inarticulate and taken advantage of. They weren’t so much real people as caricatures, and when paired with their socioeconomic equals on Married With Children, I was made more than a little bit uncomfortable.

Hope’s family is poor and rowdy and none too bright but they love the shit out of each other, and for me that is the strongest narrative thread in the series. My love of queering the traditional family delights, too, in the role reversal of Jimmy’s parents. His father is the one who needs to be hugged, who cries, who shelters him, and his mother plays at sympathies she sometimes simply doesn’t have. For all of the outlandishness somehow tidily resolved by the end of an episode, these crazy folks are real and I love them.

Just like my folks are real and crazy and I love them.

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