Hot In Cleveland – It’s Not That Complicated (S01E07) – Episode review

As I did with The Gates the other day, I’ve been having a marathon catch-up session with Hot In Cleveland, the hot new sitcom on the block.

There’s no shortage of comedy one-liners – some of which I’ve captured in my quotes section below – but it’s bizarrely like watching a sitcom from the 90’s. Not too far off, either considering Betty White’s pedigree with the Golden Girls and Jane Leeves’ decade-long stint in Frazier. And hell, we’ve been watching Wendie Malick in various incarnations since Dream On (I used to love that show!)

Valerie Bertinelli is the only member of the cast I haven’t seen on TV before. Shockingly, it turns out she’s the ex-wife of Eddie Van Halen (gasp!) and she’s 50 years old. I swear I would have placed her in her thirties! Wow!

To begin with, yes I think the show feels a little bit dated. I mean, it’s not as modern and surreal as [[Cougar Town (TV Series)|Cougar Town]], for instance. It may share certain themes with Cougar Town – such as exploring what life’s like for women over a certain age. Though the ladies of Hot In Cleveland are perhaps a tad more desperate for male attention than Courtney Cox’s character Jules was.

However, the premise of the show – a bunch of vapid LA showbiz types end up in a backwater and find it to be refreshingly relaxed about their age – is actually fertile ground for some gentle culture-clash comedy. And the inclusion of Betty White as Elka (surely the oldest cougar ever?) is a masterstroke for the series.

In It’s Not That Complicated, Elka begins stringing two men along and Melanie briefly rekindles her relationship with her ex-husband to the horror of Joy and Victoria. The situation with Melanie is perhaps the sharper of the two storylines – it plays deliciously with the notion that life is not like romantic movies as Melanie kids herself into believing that she can have her husband back. And of course, her best friends are torn between telling her what they really think and remaining neutral for fear of offending her.

It leads to a cleverly scripted showdown at the airport with Melanie sweet talking a security guard (who’s clearly seen the romcom airport scenes before). But of course, Melanie is there to roast Anders and she lets rip with a foul-mouthed tirade that’s hilariously drowned out by the noises of the metal detector nearby!

The two men, one woman story with Elka hasn’t got that much substance to it, but it’ll always be funny to watch two pensioners squaring up to each other for fisticuffs! And guest stars Tim Conway and Carl Reiner play those scenes to perfection.

I’m still finding the comedy a tad pedestrian at the moment. I do prefer edgier material than what essentially feels like an updating of Golden Girls. They even recycled an old joke Blanche once told about droopy boobs an episode or two ago. Oh, and I really need to know how these girls are making money now that they’re living in Cleveland – and wasn’t it Melanie who wanted to move there, and now we find out she’s got a daughter? Wasn’t her child even a factor in relocating on a whim?

I know, I know. It’s a comedy…

Quotes from It’s Not That Complicated

  1. Joy: “That’s a lot of boobage for your daughters’ play.” Elka: “Nice girls keep their cookies in a jar.”
  2. Old guy: “Last night when we were dancing, you can’t deny, you felt a spark.” Elka: “Well, othopedic shoes on soft carpet…”
  3. Old guy: “Faint heart never won fair maiden. Oh dear, there’s my pacemaker…”
  4. Joy: “Who are they for?” Victoria: “There’s no name. Probably from my stalker.” Joy: “I see he got your change of address card.”
  5. Elka: “I’ve never been in a triangle before. You girls are slutty, what would you do?”
  6. Joy: “Melanie, what have I told you about romantic movies?” Melanie: “That they’re never as good as their trailers.” Joy: “Yes, and they have nothing to do with real life.”
  7. Victoria: “We’re in girlfriend purgatory. If we tell her to dump him and they end up getting remarried, we’re screwed, but if we don’t say anything and he ends up breaking her heart again, we’re screwed.”
  8. Joy: “You know, I didn’t think you’d be able to make this about yourself. I underestimated you.”
  9. Victoria: “Why is everyone asking us for romantic advice?” Joy: “Yeah, since when did we become the gay best friend?”
  10. Joy: “I’ve come up with a plan, but I’m gonna need your help.” Victoria: “I’ve told you before, I’m far too recognisable to help you hide a dead body.”
  11. Old guy: “When I get through with you, you’re gonna be eating your bran muffin through a straw.”

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