When Raising Hope premiered in 2010, it was a refreshingly warped take on the classic dysfunctional TV family, boasting the best combination of heart and humor anywhere on the dial. Four years later, Raising Hope continues to be the most underrated comedy on television and I can't quite put my finger on why The Chance Family hasn't become America's modern family of choice.
That said, flying under-the-radar has afforded the actors and writers a unique opportunity to bring their very specific vision to life, according to star Lucas Neff, who chatted with ETonline about the fourth season, putting Jimmy's relationship with Sabrina to bed and testicle jokes.
ETonline: What excites you about season four?
Lucas Neff: A lot of things. A lot of it is related to what continues to excite me about being an actor and there are some things that are particular to Raising Hope that are kind of awesome. Like, other actors don't get to do what we do; we're like a live-action cartoon in many ways so we get to do these big, physical comedy bits. Real screwball stuff. I was watching Buster Keaton recently and it reminds me of those classic silent comedies, but we have a real undercurrent of heart. I like being on a show that's sweet and sincere but also, at the same time, totally effing insane!
ETonline: There's this impression that Fox is kind of hands-off when it comes to Raising Hope. Is that accurate?
Neff: A lot of it has to do with the fact we shoot very, very far from Fox's offices. They just don't want to drive. LA is a sh*tty town for driving and we've placed ourselves far away, so as long as we deliver the episodes on time, they let us do whatever we want [laughs]. I'm pretty confident they shot Breaking Bad on the moon for the same reason.
ETonline: A lot of the first three seasons were dedicated to the "Will They or Won't They?" of Jimmy and Sabrina. Now that they're married are you glad to leave that behind?
Neff: Yeah. I think it's incredibly freeing. We get to focus on having crazy adventures together and don't have to feel obligated to pay lip service to any particular storyline. We don't have to have that moment at the end of every episode where the audience wonders if they're about to kiss this week [laughs]. In some ways it feels like we have more faith in our audience that we don't have to string them along week-to-week. There's no carrot on a stick. We've given them the carrot and are saying, "F*ck the carrot, we've got pizza!" This year I think we offer unbridled, free fun.
ETonline: But then the premiere opens up with a sequence that plays like a refresher course on the show for new viewers.
Neff: I've got a conspiracy theory. I've heard they've been playing our premiere on planes, back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Someone told me she saw the premiere 10 times in a row on a plane, which might not get us new viewers as much as it will drive people to murder me on the street, but I feel like since we're moving to a new night, I'm wondering if that's them giving new people a chance to get caught up on what happened and see if they want to join us.
ETonline: I still feel like Raising Hope is an undiscovered gem.
Neff: A lot of that is because there's a lot of TV out there and unless you're a buzzy show, it can be tough. I feel there are some shows -- like The Walking Dead or Modern Family -- that people can talk about without ever having seen an episode. We're the kind of show where everybody who has seen us seems to love us, which is fine with me. I'm OK with being non-controversial. But it would be nice to get that post-Super Bowl slot [laughs]. I'm OK with that! At the end of the day, all that stuff is out of our hands. We're still on the air, which is the best thing a network can do for you.
ETonline: What are you excited for fans to see this season?
Neff: The premiere is a really fun one, having Jeffrey Tambor on is pretty cool. We just read an episode where Martha [Plimpton]'s dad, Keith Carradine, plays this cowboy so the whole episode takes place at a dude ranch and there's so many testicle jokes. So many testicle jokes. I'm stoked to bring our balls and Keith Carradine to America. It's a good start to season four!
Raising Hope premieres Friday at 9 p.m. on Fox.