At first I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to this one…from the previews and the hype, it looked just a little too canned and predictable, sort of like The Facts of Life was back in the 80’s. And really, with Betty White’s recent career comeback, we all knew Hollywood would have to find a place to plug that live wire back in! I’ll file this one in the annals of don’t judge a book by its cover, because Hot is way less Facts of Life, and far more Golden Girls, which I’m sure is no coincidence. Like Golden Girls, there are more than a few overly predictable gags, and spots where star of the show Valerie Bertinelli overplays the cute factor. But, there is a lot of really great television that shines though too. And Valerie, like co-star Betty White, really deserved a new venue after her own recent career resurgence, fueled by her astounding weight loss and resultant rockin’ bikini bod, and bestselling heartfelt memoirs detailing her life, her mistakes, and most importantly of all, how she found her way to reinvention and a happy life.
And this little gem of a sitcom is, at core, all about reinvention. The pilot episode begins with main character Melanie Moretti, played by Bertinelli, treating her two best girlfriends, eyebrow artist Joy Scroggs and soap actress Victoria Chase, played by Frasier’s Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick, to a girls’ vacation to Paris to celebrate the success of her new book, a self help advice volume for women. These three are jaded refugees from the land of L.A., where they live as best they can among the dismissive and vapid, and have become more or less invisible and irrelevant in their hometown, all because of what they’re not–18-25, and/or male. Fate does them a favor, when their plane from L.A. crash lands in Cleveland. The “girls” are not happy at first to be stuck in “Cleeee-veland” of all places. That is, until they visit a local bar for a bite, only to find that Cleveland does indeed rock after all. Why? Because in Cleveland, they’re hot! Men not only notice them, but find them beautiful and fascinating again. And, in the back of their minds, they realize that, being honest with themselves, their lives in L.A. are not so hot anymore, and they’ve been given a rare opportunity to start over. Melanie decides to stay, rents a house, which comes with Betty White, aka Elka, the wise cracking, feisty octogenarian who serves as a golden fourth for this trio of friends.
This show is truly delightful! Light entertainment at its best, especially when the world we live in becomes overly burdensome, depressing, and just, well…too much. We all need escape and entertainment, and I certainly did last night after the rough couple of days I’d been treated to courtesy of a fellow blogger, and my own big mouth and stubborn nature. And I love the idea of reinvention…actually I loved the word and the process way before Madonna tried her best to ruin it for everyone. True reinvention, not the phony attention seeking Madonna kind, involves taking chances and being open to change. And it’s about making our lives what we want them to be as well as what they were meant to be, not desperately trying to fit ourselves into a persona and/or a world where we really don’t belong. I think we’ve probably all been down that dead end, square peg/round hole road a time or two.
So, like the ladies of Hot In Cleveland, find the place where you’re hot and live there–literally or just figuratively as a state of mind. And laugh along the way and have some fun….Life really is way too short to live any other way!
Hot In Cleveland can be seen on TV Land…for a schedule and full episodes online, visit the show’s official site here: http://www.tvland.com/shows/hot-in-cleveland/
The full first season is also available on Netflix streaming video here: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Hot_in_Cleveland/70172451?trkid=2361637