Follow TV Tropes


Series / Hot in Cleveland

Go To

Hot in Cleveland is an American sitcom on TV Land starring Valerie Bertinelli (Melanie Moretti), Jane Leeves (Rejoyla "Joy" Scroggs), and Wendie Malick (Victoria Chase) as three past-their-prime entertainment industry veterans from Los Angeles. One day, their lives are changed when their Paris-bound plane makes an emergency landing in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, the group finds a welcoming community that is less shallow, youth-obsessed and weight-conscious than LA. Melanie falls in love with the place and leases a home with sassy caretaker Elka Ostrovsky, played by Betty White. It's essentially The Golden Girls with a slightly younger cast. The series, which is TV Land's first original scripted series, premiered on June 16, 2010, and was the channel's highest-rated telecast in the cable network's fourteen-year history.

The show is written by Suzanne Martin (Frasier, Ellen) and is executive produced by Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) and Todd Milliner for Hazy Mills Productions. The series is taped in front of a live studio audience at CBS' Studio City in Los Angeles using a multi-camera format.

Was cancelled in 2015 after six seasons, though given enough run time to have a proper ending. The show debuted on June 16, 2010 and ran for six seasons until concluding on June 3, 2015.

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aesop: In-Universe. When Victoria does an undercover news story to show that people are disgusted by and judgmental of fat people, she realizes she was the one who felt that way and other people were actually nice to her. If she tried doing the story somewhere else like LA rather than in Cleveland, the result would probably have been different.
  • Accidental Marriage: In the season two finale, Joy and Victoria wake up to discover that they got married the other night. It isn't until the end that they discover they married each other.
  • Adam Westing: Susan Lucci seems to get a big kick out of playing an exaggerated version of herself as a mean, vindictive, spiteful rival and frenemy to Victoria.
  • The Alcoholic: Joy seems quite fond of the drink, although the other girls aren't exactly light drinkers either.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: A Running Gag is that Joy always ends up being attracted to and dating guys who are jerks.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Played straight with the main cast, even with Elka.
  • Alliterative Name: Melanie Moretti and Colin Cooper, Victoria's fellow news reporter. Joy was also almost this when she married Kyle Jones.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Bob.
    Joy: New plan: We drive a wedge between Chester and Lily and get one of them on our side.
    Bob: I hear you. You want me to use my devastating charm to seduce Lily.
    Melanie: Eh, Chester's the one with the wandering eye. Someone has to flirt with Chester.
    Bob: Alright, I'll need a pair of short shorts and a couple shots of rum.
  • Ascended Extra: Elka was only supposed to appear in the pilot, but was so well-received by early viewers, she was made into a core cast member.
  • Author Appeal: Betty White's decades-long support of animal rights has crept into Elka more and more. She gets a speech about why she loves animals.
  • Background Halo: During a blind date, a man who looks like Jesus has a lighted beer advertisement behind his head that looks like a halo.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Whenever Victoria's agent calls.
  • Bottle Episode: "Everything Goes Better With Vampires". The houseguests who were supposed to be kicked out were unable to leave, since the police were looking for a suspect in the area.
  • Bound and Gagged: Joy in "One Wedding And One Funeral".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Joy's mum describes her as this.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Victoria's character in Edge of Tomorrow, where Honor St. Raven shoots, has sex with, and abandons her brother to die in an abandoned diamond mine.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the second season premiere.
    Elka: So, what are you in for?
    Cellmate: Drunk and disorderly. Or as I call it... Tuesday.
  • Brick Joke: That Mommy Dearest-like tell-all Victoria mentions one of her children as having threatened to write about her? Gets turned into a movie two seasons later starring Susan Lucci. The movie also references the "wire hangers" line from the Mommy Dearest.
  • Bridezilla: Elka in the appropriately named "Bridezelka".
  • But We Used a Condom!: Joy claims that she became pregnant even when using a condom.
    • Her baby daddy later states that the condom broke.
  • Butt-Monkey: Joy to Elka. Victoria is often this in regards to her rivalry with Susan Lucci.
  • Camp Straight: Victoria's son Tony. She assumed he was gay because he was into fashion.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Cheers and Frasier are both mentioned in the show. Jane Leeves, who played Daphne Moon in the latter show, stars as Joy in this series. Peri Gilpin who played Roz in Frasier and Rhea Perlman who played Carla in Cheers also did guest appearances.
  • Celebrity Star: Susan Lucci, Melanie Griffith, Jimmy Kimmel, Rick Springfield (who turned out to be a guy who impersonated Rick Springfield to sleep with women).
  • Cleveland: It's where the show takes place in.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: But with beauty treatments and plastic surgery instead of candy.
  • The Ditz:
    • Mamy Sue. She's even called this by her former bowling teammates.
    • Victoria to an extent, who once claimed to Elka "You know I don't know stuff!"
  • Didn't Think This Through: In "Dog Tricks, Sex Flicks & Joy's Fix", Joy meets a guy named Gordon who is seeing the same therapist as her and they hit it off. As she is about to be deported, she steals his psychiatry file to see if they're compatible. When he finds out about this, he breaks up with and files a restraining order against her and her therapist stops seeing her.
  • Drop-In Character: Rick was like this, and Artie seems to becoming one, too.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: In "Beards", Melanie pretends to be a lesbian to join a cruise and gets hit on by her sister's girlfriend.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A lot of Victoria's Lifetime movies were titled like this.
    Victoria: I once played a lady storm chaser in the Lifetime Original Movie Lady Storm Chaser.
    • Not to forget season 5's "The Animated Episode"...
  • Expy: Elka is very similar to Sophia from The Golden Girls.
    • In a very odd coincidence that can be considered creepy. Elka and Sophia followed very similar paths. Elka was originally a much smaller part, but Betty White's Popularity Power convinced the producers to expand her character. Interestingly, Elka's Golden Girls Expy Sophia follows a similar path. Originally conceived as a Drop-In Character, Sophia responded so well with fans, the writers wrote out their original fourth character (Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy's gay cook, Coco) and wrote Sophia in.
    • Let's keep this going. Victoria could be the show's Blanche, rather self-centered and vain. Joy is the second-in-command Deadpan Snarker, similar to Dorothy. Melanie is the hardest to compare, although she does tend to be a rather sweet and naive Rose-type at times. At one point, Jane Leeves actually said the show could be called The Silver Girls.
    • One reviewer called Victoria the new Dorothy and Joy the new Blanche, but both women share qualities of each of those Golden Girls. Victoria has Blanche's vanity and self-centered nature while Joy has Blanche's sex life, and both women display ample amounts of Dorothy's snark. Elka tends to pick on Joy the most, rather like Sophia singled out Dorothy more often than not (though Blanche was not immune either). Either comparison works.
  • Fallback Marriage Pact: A flashback episode that showed how Victoria, Melanie, and Joy had Victoria say that any man would be stupid to leave Joy at the altar and, jokingly, that if Joy was still single 20 years later, she would marry Joy herself. Became Hilarious in Hindsight, as they actually did get married shortly before the flashback episode aired.
  • Fashion Hurts: Especially Victoria's shoes.
  • Faux Yay:
    • After she accidentally got married to Joy in Canada, Victoria plays it off by pretending to be a lesbian to further her career. They begin acting like a real couple at home with their constant bickering Like an Old Married Couple and act affectionate whenever they aren't arguing.
    • "Beards" has all four women pretending to be gay to go on a cruise ship exclusively for lesbians.
    • "Straight Outta Cleveland" has Victoria's Camp Straight son Tony. She always assumed he was gay because of his love of fashion and he went along with it because he didn't have the heart to tell her he wasn't gay. When he visits her, pretends that he and his business partner are lovers.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Elka is choleric, Victoria is sanguine, Joy is melancholic, and Melanie is phlegmatic.
  • Freudian Excuse: Victoria says that she can't marry a man who doesn't make a lot of money since her parents argued a lot about money, and she never wanted that to be a problem.
    • Her Vanity comes from the fact that she used to be fat as a kid, and got bullied by her schoolmates.
  • Garnishing the Story: In "Everything's Better With Vampires", Elka gets the idea to add vampires and werewolves to a Radio Drama version of Gone with the Wind.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Preston Vanderbauche IV in "Rubber Ball".
  • Global Ignorance: Victoria. She seems to think that there's two Ohios and once even thought that Newark wasn't located in the United States.
  • Going Commando: Melanie in "Duct Soup". It's implied that she's naked underneath a trash bag she wears as a substitute dress, though she slightly and inadvertently exposes herself to the others for a moment when she cheers "yay!" at Joy's daughter having a wedding soon, and raises her arms, causing her to hike up her trash bag-dress. She says it again less enthusiastically when she realizes she's revealing too much in her oops moment and tugs it back down quickly.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Melanie does this a lot, but she is able to curse out her ex-husband. Mamy Sue also curses like this.
  • Grammar Nazi: Melanie once dated a college professor who corrected every grammatical error she ever made.
  • Hair Flip: Victoria attempted to do one while on All My Children, but due to Susan Lucci's interference, was unable to complete it.
  • Hollywood Beauty Standards: The entire premise of the show. The main women are seen this way in Los Angeles, but are pretty in Cleveland.
  • Homage: The episode "Indecent Proposals" is basically one to Sex and the City.
  • Honey Trap:
    • Joy plays this role in the detective agency she works at by using her looks to get unfaithful husbands caught in the act.
    • Melanie tries and fails to be this in "Straight Outta Cleveland". She is hired by Joy and Mitch to catch a cheating husband in the act but all she does is make him feel more and more devoted to his family.
  • I Have My Ways: Joy invokes this (right before admitting that her "way" of tracking people down is to follow them).
  • I Want Grandkids: Joy's mother reminds her about never having children every time they speak. Turns into Be Careful What You Wish For when Owen shows up... and then shows up later with a son. Joy's mum is less than pleased initially about the situation since both were born out of wedlock and she was also never told of them until the very last moment.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Elka.
  • Improvised Clothes: Melanie in "Duct Soup". Early in the episode, she's wearing a pale turquoise trash bag for a dress, due to not wearing anything when she went out the get the paper while staying at her boyfriend's place and the door closed and locked on her, as she explained to the others.
  • Incoming Ham:
    Victoria: I have a major announcement to make!
  • Japandering: Victoria dreamed of the day that she built enough success, respect, and credibility as an actor to piss it all away for a boatload of cash. She didn't, however, expect it to be for "Lady Pants."
  • Informed Flaw: In "God and Football", Joy is told by her daughter to give up smoking and junk food, two things we have never seen her consume before, during or after this episode.
  • Jerkass: Colin, Victoria's co-anchor who plays pranks on and makes jokes about her on-air.
  • Large Ham: White-Dwarf Starlet Victoria likes to pretend that she's still on a soap opera set.
  • Looks Like Jesus: In one episode when the girls set dates for each other, Melanie gets this type of guy. Faux Symbolism tropes are played with throughout (i.e. a brief shot of Background Halo).
  • May–December Romance: Victoria and her Sugar Daddy, as well as Joy and Lou. Joy dated Mark, a blind twenty-two-year-old, while pretending to be 26 years old. When he had surgery to restore his eyesight, she had Victoria's daughter Emmy pretend to be her. Melanie pretended that Elka was her girlfriend while on a gay cruise so she would have someone to introduce to her sister.
  • Mr. Exposition: Parodied with Hugh, one of Victoria's cast mates from Edge of Tomorrow whose character on that show also served as this trope.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Victoria, after she tries to retrieve an earring she dropped in between a woman's breasts.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: In "Bad George Clooney", Victoria goes to the park to meet a normal guy. She meets one and asks him how much money he makes and if he is interested in sex. He reveals himself to be an undercover cop and arrests her for suspected prostitution.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Joy's first plan whenever her friends are hurt is to kill the person.
    Joy: I say we kill him.
    Melanie: That's your solution for everything.
    Joy: Well can't we try it just once?
  • Parents as People: Even though their children are grown and college-aged, this is prominent with Victoria's character in her children's childhoods. She has even forgotten how many kids she has on multiple occasions.
    Victoria: - It was like that for both of my pregnancies.
    Melanie: Victoria, you have 3 kids...
    Victoria: [surprised look on her face]
    • Granted, she could've had a multiple birth but it's always stated in a way that points to this not being the case.
    • Victoria's father is annoyingly self-centered and always flirting with women, while Melanie's mother is very overprotective. When they are called out for it, they try to be better parents.
    • When Melanie's son and Victoria's daughter announce their engagement, they both know it's a bad idea, but decide not to get involved in their children's relationship anymore.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In "People Feeding People", Melanie goes on a date with a guy who had to eat people in order to survive after his plane crashed.
  • Out with a Bang: The mayor dies while having sex with Elka. Elka tries to keep it a secret because she fears the true details of his passing will ruin his reputation.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: In season 4, Melanie gets a job at a PR firm and falls for a guy named Alec who works there. Unfortunately, Alec's ex-wife Chloe is Melanie's boss who is under the delusion they will get back together and even goes as far as threatening to maim Melanie if she dates Alec.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Elka develops a penchant for doing this in "Bridezelka" because she thinks "All. Brides. Do it.".
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Victoria entered and LOST a look-a-like contest, as herself. She was supposed to be a drag queen look-a-like, but she still lost (to a Susan Lucci look-a-like.)
  • Rich Bitch: Victoria can be considered an example, except her finances, or lack thereof are a recurring problem for her.
  • Runaway Bride: Joy's fiancee left her at the altar, which was something that took her years to get over. Elka left Fred at the altar when Max and Bobby interrupted the wedding, and she had to choose between the three of them.
  • Running Gag: Something that the show seems to thrive on.
    • Victoria's limited knowledge of world geography.
    • Usually once a season, Victoria would have to promote something from a Japanese company called Mrs. Ladypants. These products were generally variations on the "adult diaper" theme - ranging from plastic pants with a diaper in them, a full-body diaper and an "absorbent gown, now with crystal litterbox technology".
    • Joy sniping at Elka because of her age and Elka sniping at Joy due to her alleged loose morals.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Esther-Jean Johnson, the aunt of Councilman Powell.
    Esther-Jean: You know what the problem is with young people? It's they don't understand hard work! They ask, "how much do I get to mow the lawn?" And then I ask, "Well what do I get for not whoopin' you?"
  • Serious Business: Sports such as basketball for people in Cleveland.
  • Sexiness Score: In "Murder House", Melanie's Childhood Friend Rachel invokes this trope while giving a Shout-Out to 10 (1979), when she reminisces about the time she and Melanie both got Bo Derek cornrows hairdo but the boys said that even together they still didn't amount to a "10".
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Joy's little sister Jill. When she first shows up, she has a unibrow and wears dull, frumpy clothing. After a makeover, she looks even more gorgeous than her older sister.
  • Shirtless Scene: Dan Cortese gets this while playing Jimmy Armstrong in "God and Football".
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Edge of Tomorrow, a recently cancelled daytime drama where Victoria played the role of Honor St. Raven. A glimpse of the show (its last episode, actually) is seen in season 3, revealing that it ended on a cliffhanger.
    • Victoria's news segment, Oh, hi! Ohio also counts as this.
  • Sibling Triangle: Melanie's sister's girlfriend starting hitting on her almost immediately.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Jack and Melanie, who make all kinds of corny jokes and are openly affectionate to an annoying degree. Victoria describes them as "sugar dating syrup".
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Susan Lucci is Victoria's archnemesis.
    • It's going to be interesting to see what happens next season, since Victoria has actively been trying to sabotage Susan Lucci and now All My Children is canceled.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Airport buzzers and metal detectors censor out swear words in "It's Not That Complicated".
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Golden Girls. See Expy above.
  • Squick: An In-Universe - example Victoria fills in for Juliet in the High School play and has to kiss a high school boy. The audience cringes. Lampshaded by Elka:
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: At Elka's bachelorette party.
  • Subculture of the Week: An episode in the 4th Season gives a nod to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and its adult fandom.
  • Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Victoria dated a janitor and broke up with him because he didn't have a lot of money. The next day, it was revealed on her show that he won the lottery.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Joy‘s grandson Wilbur is a newborn in Season 4, goes to Preschool in Season 5 and is in the third grade in Season 6.
  • Take That!: To Justin Bieber of all people. When it's discovered that Elka has him on her iPod:
    I love her! They keep saying she's a boy, but I'm not buying it.
    [Joy and Victoria are spying on Melanie and her ex-husband]
    Joy: What's going on?
    Victoria: She's making a heartfelt speech while he's stares at her like an idiot. It's like those warm moments on Glee!
    • Joy's admirer Rick mentions that in the Battle of the Bands, a group of hot youngsters will perform and blames it on Glee.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Joy was revealed to have given a child up for adoption in episode 2.
  • Theme Naming: Meet Victoria's children: Emmy, Oscar, and Tony (She doesn't like Tony that much.)
    • She really stuck to the theme considering Oscar is a girl.
  • Title Drop: Joy says "Welcome to Bridezelka" in the episode "Bridezelka".
  • Twofer Token Minority: In "Undercover Lovers", Victoria advocates to keep city dog parks open and assumes she will win easy sympathy points because the councilman campaigning to close them down is white. When she meets the councilman in person, she is surprised to discover that is a wheelchair-bound African-American. It's even implied that he has run unopposed for years because no one wants to come across as racist and/or disablist by challenging him.
  • The Unfavorite: Victoria's third child, Tony. She frequently forgets she actually has 3 kids, not 2.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Detective Bob/Joy/"Canadian" Joy.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Elka has this kind of relationship with Marnie and Joy.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Averted with Emmy, who's just like her mother. Played straight with Victoria's other two kids; Oscar is a journalist for NPR, and Tony is a civil engineer.
    • Played straight with Joy's son, who was so shocked by Joy's crazy life that he initially thought meeting her was a mistake and wanted to just go home and continue to not have any contact with her.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode "Scandalous", which revolves around covering up Elka's connection to Mayor Deacon's death, is a reference to Scandal.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Elka and Max, Joy and Colin, Victoria and Johnny Revere.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: "Elka's Big Day", the night of her bachelor party, in which Victoria, Melanie, and Joy get drunk and accidentally take the dog's medication, which turns out to cause memory loss and hallucinations in humans.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Elka's Big Day" for ''The Hangover".
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When Joy and Victoria accidentally get married, they are excited about it and try to figure out who their husbands are. They don't realize until later that they flew to Canada and married each other.