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TV Series Review

The women of Hot in Cleveland don't think much of Los Angeles. They couldn't care less about Hollywood Boulevard or Rodeo Drive. And don't get them started on New York or Las Vegas, either. They've been there, done that and thrown away the T-shirt.

That said, I should note that these cultural metropoles have actually treated them well. Melanie, a recently divorced mother of two, found some success in L.A. as a writer. Joy was a beautician known as "the eyebrow queen of Beverly Hills." And Victoria—well, as the Emmy-winning lead in a long-running (but recently cancelled) soap opera, Victoria needs no introduction. She needs trumpets to blare and rose petals to be scattered at her feet, but no introduction.

Still, when their plane to Paris makes an emergency landing in Cleveland, the three decide (more or less) that a cold, Midwestern city with a perennially bad football team is what they've been looking for all along. So the triumvirate moves in with colorfully cranky Elka Ostrovsky, who fires off one-liners almost as if they were crafted by a team of writers especially for her.

Hot in Cleveland feels like nearly every sitcom you've ever seen in the last 30 years. Think of it as a younger version of The Golden Girls, where Betty White plays the Estelle Getty character. Or Frasier, only with Frasier and Miles moving in with Dad, not the other way 'round. Or Two and a Half Men, if that show had any sort of redeeming value at all.

TV Land, home of television's recycled classics, is actually a great home for Hot in Cleveland—not because the show's a classic, but because it feels so recycled.

It's not without laughs … but they're familiar laughs, following the traditional Honeymooners-style setup/punch line trope. It's not without value, either. It's nice that the characters—Melanie, in particular—decide to shuck materialism in favor of something a little more real, a little more lasting. By Season 2, Melanie's searching for new meaning in her life after a hard divorce. Joy wants to reconnect with the son she gave up for adoption so many years ago. Victoria—well, we don't know what the materialistic, oft-divorced actress wants. But then, neither does she.

Sadly, the sitcom succumbs to the same problematic pitfalls so many have fallen into before. What that means is this: The series too often trades sass for crass. The women constantly discuss their sex lives (and no one should be particularly surprised to learn that Elka has the most active sex life of them all). They drink, swear and sometimes lie. Elka makes references to drug use and, in Season 2, is in legal peril because of her relationship to the mafia.

It's great, on some level, that the women of Hot in Cleveland are trying to make new lives for themselves. But perhaps we should let them sort a few more things out before we, too, make a detour and drop by for a visit. After all, we've already been there, done that.

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HotinCleveland: 222011



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Valerie Bertinelli as Melanie Moretti; Jane Leeves as Joy Scroggs; Wendie Malick as Victoria Chase; Betty White as Elka Ostrovsky




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Paul Asay

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