'Hot in Cleveland' season finale: 5 reasons this show rules

hot-in-clevelandImage Credit: Craig T. MathewTV Land’s Hot in Cleveland—a scripted bright spot in an otherwise reality-infused summer—signs off its first season tonight. I’m beyond sad to see it go! But that’s reason enough to revisit the show here for a quick moment. I previewed most of tonight’s tornado-infused episode (yes, they’re pulling a Desperate Housewives-style stunt!), and it’s full of the heart, laughs, and all the Betty White-in-a-sweat suit that you have come to love and expect so far. The episode is actually kind of a retrospective, with lots of time spent on all the men that have blown through these four ladies’ lives in the first nine episodes. Here at the end of a rather surprising and spectacular first season, I thought a toast to the show was due. So, here are my 5 Reasons Hot in Cleveland Rules. Here goes:

1. DUH: BETTY WHITE! I’ve already referenced the genius of the sweat suits she wears (and bedazzles!), which is reason enough to love Betty’s inclusion in this show. But, honestly, just the sheer fact that this 88-year-old is funnier than almost anyone around continues to amaze me. The season finale finds her character Elka revealing a bit more about her past and what she’s really hiding down in that funky-smelling cellar. I don’t want to spoil it, but: Brilliant.

2. THE YOUTHFUL POP-CULTURE INFUSION Just because a show stars ladies that range in age from 49 (Jane Leeves) to 88 (Betty White) doesn’t mean it has to be frumpy and dumpy. Beyond the old-school vibe, though, I’m always amused by the amount of pop culture savvy that churns in Cleveland. For instance, the season finale references Antiques Road Show (all right, maybe that is a bit older-skewing), The Price is Right (okay, that, too), LeBron James (ding ding, young!), and the combination of Susan Lucci and the Daytime Emmys (fine, yet again, old). Whatever. It feels like someone in-the-know wrote the series.

3. WENDIE MALICK I’ve loved her since her Just Shoot Me! days, but she’s only endeared herself more to me during her run on Cleveland. In the season finale, she kills with her over-the-top, diva-licious, totally irrelevant, self-obsessed soap star Victoria Chase, who can’t make it to the Daytime Emmy Awards because of the tornado. “I cannot believe that I’m trapped down here,” she says, to launch a ridiculously entertaining monologue. “When a beloved artist inhabits an unforgettable role like Honor St. Raven for the past 27 years and cannot get to the Daytime Emmy Awards to receive her public lauding from her peers, after being overlooked for such a long time, well, then the terrorists have won.” Also, Malick is 60 (correction, almost 60: she’s 59 until December), and looks like she’s 40. I die for her. (And just since we haven’t referenced her age yet, note that Valerie Bertinelli is 50.)

4. THE GIRL TALK Not since Sex and the City went off the air, and before that Golden Girls, have there been a show that so featured great, gabby, gossipy, guilty girl talk. Loves! On Cleveland, the ladies are almost always playfully jabbing each other—or maybe it’s just Betty White’s character Elka jabbing the other ladies—but it’s welcome and refreshing. The season finale is almost exclusively the four ladies sitting around gabbing—a result of them hiding out in Elka’s cellar, waiting out the storm. Bring on the cheesecake and brunch!

5. THE CLIFFHANGER I don’t even know what it is yet—obviously something caused by the tornado, as the lights were cut at the end—but I’m intrigued that the publicity folks at TV Land felt it necessary to lop off the last scene or two of Cleveland when they sent me the preview disc today. “We couldn’t reveal the cliffhanger!” the show’s publicist told me. What could be happening that would warrant that? Especially on this sitcom? We shall see. But count me interested.

What do you love about Hot in Cleveland? What makes it rule in your mind? Hit the comments below!

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

‘Hot in Cleveland': How Betty White Made it Hot
‘Hot in Cleveland’ exec producer discusses the show’s old-school vibe
‘Hot in Cleveland': Hot Summer TV
Betty White: White heat

Comments (81 total) Add your comment
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  • Dominic

    I really like how it has that older sitcom feel! As does the new show melissa and Joey on abc family!! The cast of hot in Cleveland is amazing!!! It’s whitty, clever, and pure funny!

    • elr

      Yes, I like that about it too. I feel the same way about Melissa and Joey too. Both shows try to be nothing but what they are, half-huor sitcoms. whatever happened to this genre of tv, and why isn’t there more of it?

      • Kylie

        I completely agree. I feel like I’m watching a sitcom from the 90s.

      • Dominic

        Agreed, it feels classic but fresh. Gotta give thanks to the talent in front of and behind the camera for reaffirming my faith in the traditional sitcom – this show proves it still has lots of life in it.

        Not the same Dominic as the original comment btw…this one can spell witty…

  • hannah

    Wendie Malick is 60??? That’s insane.

    • solarjetpro

      …and shocking! She’s also my favorite part of the show. She just makes it work.

    • Keisa

      I was shocked to read that too. I pray that I look even half as good as she does at 60!!

    • jason

      my mouth dropped as well. she is frakkin gorgeous. no mention of whether or not she’s had work done. i think ALL four are beautiful and i LOVE this sitcom. i don’t have to guess whether or not it will be released on DVD, that’s a no-brainer, just do it soon.

    • Julie

      I agree with the author that Wendie Malick is a treasure, literally. She is OTT without being cheesy; she’s just got this intangible quality about her that can’t be matched by anyone else! A true master of sarcastic and lampoon yourself wit without even trying!!!

    • deeidub

      Count me in as one of the jaw-hanging readers at the mention of this amazing woman’s age. I’ve been a fan of hers since I first saw her on an HBO series called Dream On, for which she won multiple Cable ACE awards. Not only has she done a commercial for the Humane Society, she and her husband also volunteer time and funding for the homeless. Quite a lady, and it seems fitting that she’s now costarring with Betty, well known for her advocacy for the humane treatment of animals. I’m in awe of them both.

      • WastClayMom

        Dream On was a fabulous show. didn’t realize that was Wendie Malick. HIC is hilarious.

    • Ryan

      Yes, can you believe Wendie Malick is 60??? Heck, all the woman look amazing. You actually watching thinking they are all 35- 45 and don’t realize.

  • elr

    All the items that you mention, but especially the rapport between all 4 of the ladies. I could sit and watch them talking together for hours on end.


    Love this show. Wendie is one of the funniest women, EVER, on tv. Speaking of Emmys with her character, she herself deserves an emmy nomination!!

  • JN

    Great stuff. Betty’ll add an Emmy to her mantle this year for SNL & next year for Cleveland.

  • GorgeousGeorges

    I feel old for saying this, but I remember Wendie Malick from that old HBO show “Dream On.” She was brilliant then.

    • kim in kentucky

      oh me too — that hair flip !!

    • MurMaz

      I remember Ms. Malick from Kate & Allie. She played Allie’s ex-husband’s new wife.

  • sam

    I love this show and it goes beyond Betty White (who is as always funny). If you saw Wendie do the “symptoms” as they were named on the last show, you saw classic comedy at its best. I know that it might have been in a bit of bad taste, but it was laugh out loud funny. All of the ladies are great.

    • Marc

      Yes, her “symptoms” from last week! As I was watching, I kept thinking: Classic physical comedy, a la Lucille Ball. Wendie was HILARIOUS with those tics, twitches and slurring.

    • susie

      That was HILARIOUS when she did those symptoms. I wasn’t laughing then suddenly I burst OUT laughing and waws crying I was laughing so hard. Wendie Malick is a GEM!

    • rboyer

      Wendie is hilarious! All four have a great chemistry. The “symptoms” episode had me crying from laughing so hard.

  • Jackal

    Season finale? How many episodes did they air? Ridiculous what constitutes a season nowadays.

    • Mac

      It’s Summer TV – a season is roughly half that of Fall premiered series (Fall + Winter). Duh.

    • Cody

      It’s also cable. Cable series generally have lower budgets and shorter seasons as a result. Most cable series have a season run of 9-13 episodes.

  • Scott

    I love this show..and last week’s episode was stellar..made me finally like Wendy Malick. She stole the show.

  • Yolanda

    Wendie is 60, Jane is 49 and Val is 50. They all look wonderful for their ages! I have watched every ep of this show and so glad it did well so TV Land had no choice but to renew it. Can’t wait for tonite’s finale :)

    • Wifey

      I would KILL for Jane’s legs.

      • OliviaBolivia


  • SirLizard

    “Not since Sex and the City went off the air… have there been a show that…”

    That should be “HAS there been a show”, not “HAVE there been a show”.

  • Lark3

    I really like this show. It is cute and funny and all the ladies rock. Nice to know that little shows like this can make it in a world of Jersey Shores…

  • Mary2

    I watched the first episode and didn’t enjoy it at all. Given all this love, I think I better give it another chance.

    • Chaz

      I like the premise and the “old school” style, the ladies are fantastic, but man the writing leaves a lot to be desired! Here’s hoping S2 is better.

    • Royal

      Yes, I guess I need to give it another shot. The jokes are rather predictible. I wish they would ‘flesh out’ the characters more. It seems that each character is assigned a personality and they don’t add any surprises. Ladies that age are multi-faceted people. Show it.

      • WTF?

        Eh, it’s the first season. How much fleshig can be done in 9 episodes? That’s what the next couple of seasons are for. Most sitcoms (that are successful) really hit their peak in season 3 or 4 anyway. Hopefully this one will last that long, because I thoroughly enjoy it.

      • WTF?


  • DiDi

    Wendy is a riot and I love the writing. We found this by accident one night and fell in love with it

  • Mary

    I love the show, refreshing and fun. All the ladies are great.

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