Hot in Cleveland: In Which I Plug Amazon Prime and Mention a Whole Bunch of Other TV Shows

8:09 AM

I recently signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime because hey, it's my last few weeks here! The service gives you free 2-day shipping on most items and unlimited streaming with Prime Instant Video. I am loving both features. If I lived in the US subscribing to it would be a no-brainer.

Anyway I was looking for a brainless comedy for background noise when I saw Betty White on the logo of Hot in Cleveland. And who can resist that silver-haired grandma? Read on for mild fangirling and more information on the series.

The series centers on three "past-their-prime" entertainment industry veterans from LA: Valerie Bertinelli (Jenny Craig weight loss program spokesperson) as a writer, Jane Leeves (Frasier's Daphne Moon) as a beauty and makeup expert, and Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me!'s Nina Van Horn) as a soap opera actress. On the way to Paris, they make an emergency landing in Cleveland, Ohio. Finding a more welcoming and less shallow and youth-obsessed community, they lease a home with a sassy caretaker (Betty White!).

I was expecting a boring brainless sitcom in the vein of Everybody Loves Raymond but I was wrong! I would describe it as a comedic Sex & the City for (ridiculously skinny) forty-something women. The characters start off as caricatures but evolve into complex, intelligent women. Maybe it's the presence of Jane Leeves but the show reminds me of the subtly intellectual humor Frasier (not surprising given that they were created by the same person) mixed with the irreverence and absurdity of shows like Seinfeld and Will & Grace. And like those, Hot in Cleveland is shot in front of a live studio audience -- not common for sitcoms these days.

It's interesting that even with jokes that are predictable the delivery is so impeccable -- like their characters, these women are veterans in their industry -- that it's still funny. It doesn't hurt that Daphne Moon and Nina Van Horn were my favorite characters in their respective shows. I initially thought that Betty White would be the one to carry the show, but all the leads are equally adept in their roles, and their chemistry is terrific. The Golden Girl's presence also pulls circumstances from her day, so that the humor crosses over generations. Much like their guest stars, from John Mahoney (Frasier's Martin Crane), to John Schneider (Smallville's Jonathan Kent), to Mark Indelicato (Ugly Betty's young Justin Suarez) and even Joe Jonas.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing out loud as the seasons go on. Yay Amazon Prime!

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