Review: Hot in Cleveland 1×1

Because all women of a certain age want is to be treated like a lady

Hot in Cleveland

In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm/9c, TV Land

The creators of Hot In Cleveland probably had a few alternative titles in mind for the show before they came up the current title:

  1. Women of a Certain Age – too close to TNT’s Men of a Certain Age?

  2. Cougar Town – oops, already done that.

  3. LA Sucks – might lose a few viewers with that one.
  4. We Wish They All Could Be Cleveland Men – Well, men weren’t going to watch anyway, were they?
  5. Go On, Women, Watch It, Just Watch It – There Are So Few Shows With Female Leads In It That You’ll Watch Nearly Anything, Won’t You? – That would be the network’s attitude at least.

But essentially, the cryptically-titled Hot In Cleveland refers not to the temperature there, but to the fact that a group of rich women of a certain age (Jane Leeves from Frasier, Wendie Malick from Just Shoot Me and Valerie Bertinelli of One Day at a Time/the Jenny Craig weight loss scheme) accidentally wind up in Cleveland. Used to being overlooked by men their own age in LA in favour of younger women, they’re surprised to find the men of Cleveland find them – a washed up actress, a book author and celebrity stylist – attractive.

Shock, and indeed, horror.

So desperate to be wanted and desired after their businesses collapse, husbands leave them, etc, they decide to move to Cleveland, where they end up watched over by their property’s caretaker, ex-Golden Girl Betty White (she’s so hot right now), while trying to find Mr Right/Old School.

Cue much hilarity.

Hot in Cleveland
revolves around three fabulous L.A. women of a certain age who are best friends (Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick). Their lives are changed forever when their plane — headed to Paris for a girls-only celebration — unexpectedly lands in Cleveland and they soon rediscover themselves in a new ‘promised land’. Loving their new home, the women find themselves living under one roof and battling the sassy caretaker (Betty White) of the property they have rented.

Is it any good?
This isn’t going to go down in anyone’s books as the finest sitcom ever made. Despite its all-female cast, its gender politics are a little suspect. Its plethora of one-liners puts you in mind of every second-rate sitcom that thought good lines were better than good characters and good characterisation. It’s multi-camera studio feel is very old school – presumably deliberately, given the network and target audience.

But you know what? I want to like it and, actually, I did laugh a bit. The cast are all experienced pros and deserve to have their own show. They can actually deliver lines well enough to get laughs when there shouldn’t be any: Betty White’s dialogue is awful, but she still manages to make it funny. The lines about life in LA do sound like the voice of authorial experience, rather than simply a plot device to get them all to Cleveland. It deserves to be liked.

It’s just a shame that the story seems to be aimed purely around women wanting to be attractive to men. Still, what with Leeves’s character actually having a business n’all, maybe she’ll prove there’s more to life for older women than men, even in TV land. I’ll get back to you with episode three.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts