As Its First Season Ends, It's Still 'Hot in Cleveland'

On Aug. 18 at 10 p.m. ET, Hot in Cleveland ends its 10-episode first season with a finale called "Tornado." That title, however, could also describe the storm with which its star, Betty White, has taken all of us -- ever since her now-famous SNL appearance last May.

Hot in Cleveland -- which is, let's be honest, a sitcom full of TV has-beens -- could have died a slow death on its improbable network home, TV Land. (Do you even know what your local TV Land channel number is? I certainly don't.) Instead, thanks to White's breathtakingly huge resurgence on the pop culture scene, Hot in Cleveland drew an average of four million viewers this summer, according to The New York Times. "It helped to raise the channel’s total audience by 64 percent this summer versus last."

That's not to discount the comedy chops of her experienced costars, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick and Jane Leeves. All of these women could probably deliver their snappy sitcom lines in their sleep. And let's not forget that Sean Hayes, who played one of the best sitcom characters ever (Jack on Will & Grace), is one of the show's producers. But it's also hard to imagine that the show would have received the buzz it has without White's recent notoriety. Or reeled in the slew of guest stars it's managed in just one season.

From Joe Jonas to Carl Reiner, and Huey Lewis to Tim Conway, producers have finagled a broad range of guests looking to mix it up with White. Tonight, Susan Lucci steps in, playing herself in a plotline that involves the daytime Emmy Awards (of course). But the main focus of the finale, of course, revolves around White.

"The last episode ends with a cliffhanger," Suzanne Martin, the show's creator and executive producer, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We find out what the whole thing is with Betty's character and why she smells like pot. And it ends on a cliffhanger that will be resolved next year."

"You better be cool," White's character, Elka, scolds the women in this scene from the finale. Anything you say, Betty. You're still golden.

Were you surprised by Hot in Cleveland's success this summer? Chime in below!

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