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TV Series Review

ABC has revived its Friday night TGIF lineup by sandwiching two new sitcoms (Married to the Kellys, Hope & Faith) between returning favorites George Lopez and Life With Bonnie. For years, ABC has billed TGIF as a time when the whole family can watch together. With that in mind, Plugged In turns its attention to what is now the lineup’s most popular series, Hope & Faith.

Part of the reason Hope & Faith became an instant hit this fall is the name recognition of its co-stars. Kelly Ripa (Live! With Regis and Kelly, All My Children) plays to type as Faith, a former daytime soap star who’s out of work but never out of style. Faith Ford (Murphy Brown) is Hope, her more settled, married-with-kids sister. Because Faith squandered her soap money, she moves in with Hope, Charley and their three children. Paralleling the brothers of Two and Half Men in many respects, the sparring sisters scream, claw and spray one another with condiments.

Fortunately, not all interactions require stain remover. Charley wins “dad of the year” for a scene in which he makes sure his middle child doesn’t feel left out and insignificant. Meanwhile, his wife struggles to counteract Faith’s negative influence on their teenage daughter (Faith encourages her niece to skip school, and even sets up a make-out session for the girl and her boyfriend).

Sweetness, however, prevails only about 20 percent of the time. Sexual joking and morgue humor rule. Faith pushes up her breasts and chortles, “I got a pair of get-out-of-jail-free cards” after stealing a ring off the finger of a dead woman. She goes on to describe having licked the woman’s finger so that she could slide off the jewelry. Before the somber occasion concludes, Faith and Hope publicly accuse the deceased of having an affair with Frank Sinatra, and break into a rousing chorus of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. Faith gushes, “I never knew funerals could be so much fun!”

Flippancy toward God (frequent exclamations of “omigod”) and disrespect for parents also play supporting roles. One daughter calls her mom a prude and tells her parents to “get lost” in public. If those attitudes don’t make families wary of putting faith in Hope & Faith, ribald zingers about transgender soap stars, lingerie with “holes” and breast augmentation should.

Episodes Reviewed: Sept. 26, Oct. 3, 10, 2003

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Steven Isaac

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