Second Chances

Submitted into Contest #54 in response to: Write a story about a TV show called "Second Chances."... view prompt

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Writing prompt #54

Write a story about a TV show called "Second Chances."


“Second Chances”     by clcronan 2020


High marks from the critics that previewed a new comedy series to be released on Netflix this fall. “Second Chances” is a reboot of “Raising Hope” and sees Trace Garcia, son of the creator of the original series, (and also the actor who portrayed Young Jimmy,) returning to his roots by producing this reboot. He does so with the blessings of his dad, Gregory Thomas Garcia who produced the original show for four seasons from 2010 - 2014. Lucas Neff returns in the role of father to Hope, with Shannon Woodward returning as mother. Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt have signed on for recurring roles, as Hope’s grandparents, Virginia and Burt.


The spin-off picks up the story of the Chance family 30 years after we last saw them in Natesville. Hope, now 34 years old, was doomed since conception to repeat the sins of the generations that preceded her. Except she managed to finish high school and two years of community college before giving birth at 19 to her daughter Faith, (age 15, played by Kristina Pimenova.) Hope is prone to icy stares and monosyllabic responses. To which people react by doing what they think she wants.


Hope (played by Anna Kendrick) has a young brother, Jimmy (aka JJ,) ten years her junior, who is deathly afraid of her, (played by Michael Cera.) Hope and Faith are staying with Virginia and Burt in Jimmy’s old room and Maw-Maw’s old room, “just until things settle down.” JJ lives at home with his folks while working as a landscaper by day and attending community college at night, studying art and theatre.


The icing on this cake, as with it’s predecessor, is Cloris Leachman, now 94, reprising her role as Maw-Maw. She signed on to do 6 guest appearances as “lucid Maw-Maw from beyond the grave,” to provide sage advice to Virginia who feels unprepared to be the matriarch of this family.





scene: Day. Chance living room.

Virginia, now 73, Burt now 75, sit on a broken down coach watching tv turned up very loud.

Faith, 15, bursts in, slams her backpack on the floor, screams and storms off to the back yard.

Hope, 34, saunters in behind her, crosses her arms and stares at Virginia.

Burt silences the tv.


Virginia: (reacting to Hopes glare,) I got this.

(Burt helps her stand by pushing up her behind. He then gestures for Hope to sit with him.)

Without acknowledging him, Hope kicks Faiths bag out of the way and tosses her handbag on top of it. She goes to the frig, gets two beers and returns to the couch. She plops down heavily, hands Burt a beer, reaches for the remote and puts the volume up again.


Cut to theme song and intro sequence:


Failed family photos since Jimmy was first born until Faiths 15th birthday

     Here we go, oh, oh, oh - oh, oh, oh

     Gettin old, ow, ow, ow - ow, ow, ow

     Life goes on, on, on, on, - on, on, on



scene: Day. Sabrina’s house. 

Jimmy, now 61, and Sabrina, now 63, peeking under drop cloths over canvases on multiple easels set up in the old dining room, now JJ’s studio. The key sounds in the front door and they fumble to act normal, failing miserably. They end up striking awkward poses by the fireplace. JJ enters.

JJ : “Please tell me you didn’t look! You promised you wouldn’t look! I can’t work like this! I need privacy! You are ruining it! You know you are ruining it, and yet you keep ruining it! Why!? Why!? Why!?”

Sabrina hands an andiron to Jimmy as if he were going to need it.

Sabrina: “Oh, good, you’re home! We were just, well, . . .” She gestures toward Jimmy indicating he should finish explaining. “I hear the timer on the oven - dinner needs tending - should be ready in about an hour.” She smiles, kisses JJ on the cheek, on her way to escape to the kitchen.

Sabrina: “Don’t forget, tonight is Grandpa birthday dinner.”

Jimmy: “Right. Right. Good timing. Maybe you could help me get the raccoon out of the chimney. Your mother was going to help, but then she had to go make dinner, and plus I don’t really think this thing is enough of a weapon. hee ha ha.” Jimmy places the andiron back in the holder and laughs again.

JJ: “Why must you and Mother always treat me like bulkhead! Do you really think I am a domicile! I know you were looking at my paintings. After I begged you not to.”

Jimmy: “Now, son, you know the suspense is killing us. You haven’t shared any of your work with us in so long. We feel left out. Isn’t Clara with you today?”

JJ: jaw agape, “Clara! You made me forget Clara!”

JJ swings the front door open and runs out to help Clara who is trying to carry too much toward the door. JJ is effusively apologizing.

Clara: “Oh, hey, Mr. C., JJ and I are going to like rehearse here again tonight if that’s ok. He said you and Mrs. C. don’t mind, because like you support his career, but you know, at my place, like, well, you know, it’s small, really small, not like your place Mr. C., and since you don’t mind, well we would be like crazy to go to my place, because, well, we can’t make noise there and the props would never fit so, like this works out great for everyone, right?

She talks right over Jimmy’s hello and keeps talking as the three of them lug all the props into the old dining room. She is still talking when Sabrina enters.

Clara: “Oh, hey, Mrs. C., You look nice, and something smells real good. Are you making dinner? I know, like a bad penny, I keep turning up at dinner time, but honestly, I could go back and eat like at the cafeteria, then come back to rehearse - oh, you don’t mind do you? JJ and I are like rehearsing again. We just want everything to be perfect for next week. Next Week, wow, oh my god, wow, it’s really . . . , 

Sabrina gestures to Jimmy and makes a few noises about needing him to help in the kitchen. As they walk away Clara turns her attention to JJ and keeps talking.

In the kitchen:

Sabrina: “Why, Jimmy, why does our sweet, quiet little JJ feel the need to spend every waking moment with that Chatty Cathy doll? She has no OFF switch! We don’t get to talk to him anymore because she answers for him! I hate that! Don’t you hate that? Of course you do. Oh - your parents and Hope and Faith are suppose to be here by 6, and not one of them will be surprised to see Clara here. Your mother handles Clara better than we do anyway. 

Jimmy: “What time is everyone else coming? Aren’t you afraid they will show up too late for the surprise?”

Sabrina: “That’s why we need a plan.”

Jimmy: Jimmy plucks at his eyebrow, and sheepishly says “A plan?”


Scene: The backyard at Virginia’s

Virginia: “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan. Your grandparents invited us all over to their house for a fancy cook-out surprise party. So let’s just leave now, saying you need some school supplies, and tell your mother and Grandpa to meet us there. We’ll go by Howdy’s and fill a bag with anything the Grandpa loves and you’ll be all set. You know, it’s really beyond my apprehension why you and your mother have to make each other crazy. Let’s go.”


Scene: very late afternoon

Howdy’s Grocery Store


Frank and Shelly are picking up their daughter Mimi to head over to the birthday surprise party. Mimi is holding balloons. 


Virginia: (honking and waving) “Hey! Look what the cat let out! Where are you all headed?

Frank: “Nowhere. Nope. Not us. We have no where to go. Not tonight before 5:30pm.”

Shelly: “Hi, Virginia, Hi, Faith. We just came to get Mimi. She worked all day.”

Virginia: “So then what are the balloons for?”

Mimi: “Well, I, we, I mean, . . . Dad and I are practicing our helium song tonight.”

Frank: “Yes. Yes. Yes, helium song.”

Virginia: “Helium song for what?”

Faith: Who had caught on as soon as Frank stuttered, “Grandma, can we hurry? I want to get to G’Ma and G’Pa’s earlier than Mom and Grandpa do. Nice to see you guys. Good luck with your helium song.” And she pulls Virginia toward the store.


Mimi: “Let’s get out of here. Uncle Barney is probably already worried even though we’ll be early picking him up. Did you clear out the trunk to make room for the food?”

Shelly: “Yes. The balloons will have to ride in here with us.”

They are still wrestling with the balloons when Virginia and Faith come back out.


Virginia: “Are you going to be alright with those? You look like you’re losing on a game show!”

Faith: “OK, well, see you guys around!”


Scene: Dusk. Sabrina’s house.

Clara is still talking in the studio.

A hubbub of greetings as Virginia and Faith enter,

Jimmy and Sabrina are freaked out that they are so early.


Virginia: “Sabriner, Jimmy, what are you two so upset for? We just wanted to arrive before Burt and Hope. What’s the big deal?”

Sabrina: “Ohhh! They aren’t with you! Ohhhhh! OK then.”

Jimmy: “We were worried you might have ruined the surprise.”

Virginia: “What do you think I am, unresponsible?”

Faith: “So, I hear Clara is here again. (She rolls her eyes.) G’Ma, can you hook me up with a basket or a gift bag or any way to fancy-up this lame gift I got for Grandpa.”

The door bell rings.

Jimmy: Hey, Shelly, Hey Mimi, thanks for bringing the balloons - would you bring them out back, and I’ll go help Barney, and open the garage for Frank.

Shelly and Mimi stare at Virginia. Virginia smirks at them.

Virginia: “So how was helium song rehearsal?”

Shelly: “So you knew this whole time? You watched us at Howdy’s trying to wrangle these things into the car, and knew the helium song was made up and you never said a word?”

Mimi: “I hope you were this good at hiding it from Burt, too!”

Virginia: ”Hey, we gotta set up a betting pool ‘cuz Clara is here again. What should we go with tonight? Number of “likes”? Number of times she touches JJ’s arm? Number of dessert plates she fills?”

Mimi: “My favorite is, ‘Number of times she throws her head back to laugh.”

Shelly: “With bonus points for every time she falls off her seat from laughing too hard.’”


JJ: “Hi.”

Clara: “Oh My God! Were you guys just saying you know someone who laughs so hard they fall off their chair! That is so funny! Because that happens to me too!” Clara reaches over to touch JJ’s arm, “Don’t you think that’s hilarious, it’s like totally unbelievable!”

Barney, Frank and Jimmy come in the front door.

Clara: “Ooooh! Barney! Food trays! Let me help you. Is one of these desserts? What’s the occasion? Oh, Hi, Frank! Gee, everybody’s here. Is it my birthday? JK!”

While Clara laughs at her own joke, 

JJ: “My grandfather’s birthday. Hi, Gram.”

Virginia: “Don’t be stingy with the sugar, love bug, when it comes to grandson-love I can never get enough, I am greedy as a pig.”


The group starts to move all the food out to the backyard when the doorbell rings. Stuck in place, feeling like it must be Burt, they stare at each other. Sabrina silently shoos them all out the back door and yells,

Sabrina: “Hang on one sec!


It’s only Dancing Dan. 

Sabrina: “Hey, Dancing Dan, Burt should be here any minute, everybody is out back.”

She almost has the door closed when she hears,

Burt: “Hold the door Sabrina! We’re here!”

At the door,

Burt: “Did we just see Dancing Dan come in? What’s he doing here? Don’t even tell me JJ and that girl have roped him into a performance!? Ha ha! I’d pay to see that!”

Hope: with a nod, “Mom.” 

Sabrina: yelling, “Jimmy! Your dad’s,” she turns and crashes into Jimmy, “here.”

Jimmy is acting nervous and awkward. He kisses Hope. Too loudly he says, “So glad you could come to dinner. Dad. We thought we would eat out back tonight. Won’t you come this way.

Burt: “Jimmy, what’s the matter with you? I don’t think we should eat outside, the clouds look anonymous. Where’s your mother she should be here by now.”

Jimmy: “Yes, she should, and she IS! Won’t you follow me to the backyard where she is. She is in the back yard.”

Sabrina gives him a hidden slap to try to snap him out of it.

Hope sighs,: “Oh, my god, you guys are killing me. Come on, let’s eat.” She pulls Burt toward the sliding glass door. She artfully pulls back the curtain and opens the door in one easy motion.



Cue music.

Camera spans the crowd, focusing in turns on small groups.

Jimmy as voice over narrator: “Natesville seems to change and to stay the same all at once. My life growing up here, then raising my kids here, and now watching my granddaughter grow up here - I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world. 


Cut to Faith, standing and raising her glass: “Well, I’m pregnant.”


Cut to black.


August 13, 2020 00:18

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1 comment

Deborah Angevin
11:00 Aug 14, 2020

I loved the structure of this; just like a TV script! Well-written one, Cynthia! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D


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