The Caps, Greg Garcia and Raising Hope
Why does a lead character on the Fox sitcom Raising Hope keep wearing Washington Capitals t-shirts?
Well, the show was created by Greg Garcia. Garcia -- a long-ago staffer on WTEM's Tony Kornheiser Show -- was raised in Arlington. And Garcia's middle son -- 10-year old Nathan -- is a Caps nut, whose real-life bedroom is covered with Alex Ovechkin paraphernalia, including an Ovechkin Fathead. That's why.
"We like hockey and we're Caps fans," Garcia told me on Thursday. "That's the benefit of having a TV show: you get to dress people in the uniforms you like."
Indeed, Garcia has a history of such nods to D.C.'s sports teams. When he was doing "Yes, Dear," he regularly dressed one of the leads, New England Patriots fan Mike O'Malley, in Redskins gear. When he was doing "My Name Is Earl," the Yorktown grad put in a bit in which a funeral director (played by John Waters) constructed scenes of how the dead wanted to be remembered. One corpse was memorialized in a La-Z-Boy, surrounded by his Skins effects.
And so even though "Raising Hope" -- for which Garcia is also the executive producer -- is set in a nameless city featuring palm trees and blue skies, the character played by Garret Dillahunt keeps Rocking the Red.
"He was probably a big Al Iafrate fan - met him in a bar once and became a lifelong Caps fan," Garcia explained, and then paused. "I just made that up, but that's the history."
In truth, the show initially had some roadblocks in getting clearance from the NHL to use the Caps logo. Garcia eventually got in touch with Ted Leonsis, who removed those roadblocks, landing the shirt in the pilot.
"Then I noticed wardrobe's putting him in the shirt all the time, which is fine with me," Garcia said. "My characters don't have more than about four shirts anyway in their closet. If you see one, you're gonna see it a bunch of times."
And not just one, either. Wardrobe has a bunch of different Caps shirts, and Garcia was just recently picking out Skins clothes for future episodes. And Garcia -- an Orioles fan who named his oldest son Camden -- still has designs on an even bigger public embrace of D.C. sports.
"The ultimate goal is to get Ovechkin to come play the wacky Russian neighbor for an episode, so my son can meet him," he told me. "It's all about getting stuff for my son. That's really what it's all about....He could be the worst actor in the world. It's more important that my son could meet his hero."
See, this is why the Caps' renaissance is more than just the bandwagon everyone jokes about. Garcia grew up a mild Caps fans, like many 30-somethings from this area, but his son is legitimately crazy about the Caps. The kid plays hockey Saturday and Sunday mornings in Southern California and rummages through his dad's work bags for extra Caps t-shirts, and father and son are going to see the Lightning game when they come back to this area for Thanksgiving.
Of course, they're also going to the owner's box when the Redskins host the Vikings, since Garcia has gotten to know Daniel Snyder through his frequent on-air nods to the Skins. Again, this is the benefit of having your own TV show. So no, those Caps and Redskins shirts aren't going anywhere.
"It's hometown pride," Garcia told me. "Everybody around here knows those are my teams."
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