Cougar Town has always hovered around the titles of “underappreciated” and “luckiest” shows on TV. The cul-de-sac crew never stood a chance with a title that horrid and an original plotline that seemed offensive and unlikeable at first, and yet five years later, Courteney Cox and her new “friends” are still on the air delivering constant laughs and emotions in a show that has easily become my favorite new comedy.
This is undeniably the show’s weakest season. Audiences hated the title Cougar Town without even bothering to give it a chance, and those who did were treated to a story of a 40 year-old divorced mother hooking up with strange guys every other night, and that’s a bit too much for network television. People who didn’t decide to stick with the show for another season can’t be blamed because it took the gang about 10 episodes to really start shaping up. While the cul-de-sac crew was still very new, I think that a big part of what made season one suck was the fact that Grayson’s role was limited and most of the times forced. Things began to improve when the show started balancing the comedy with the emotional aspects, especially when it seemed like Jules and Grayson were going to get together.
The show drastically changed in its second season. Jules and Grayson getting together improved the dynamic of the group and ultimately got us addicted to these insane alcoholics. There are so many things about season two that made the show unique and fresh—such as Jules’ famous wine glass Big Joe (followed by its funeral), Barb’s dirty stories, Penny Can’s invasion of the world, and a potential Laurie/Travis relationship (we’ll get to that). Ellie became more than just Jules’ best friend—she became one of the show’s funniest yet cold-hearted characters, and is still up till now my favorite Cougar Town asset. Her snarky remarks to her husband, her eye-rolling whenever Laurie is telling one of her “foster-home” stories, and mean nicknames to Bobby, Grayson and Travis are what make her a distinctive and powerful character. Perhaps what also made the show better is how self-aware the writers became of it and of the title: those sarcastic opening title cards are still something I look forward for in every new episode.
Favorite Opening Title Cards:
-“100% Cougar Free Cougar Town”
-“All I want for Christmas is a new title”
-“We Pretend Cougar Town is called Wine Time”
Season three is the show’s strongest season yet; well, at least for me. It starts off with a powerful engagement in the premiere and ends with one of the best scenes in the show’s history: a wedding that is emotional, fast-paced and incredibly innovative. Also, a hilarious Scrubs reunion made this season all the more special and amazing in the episode A One Story Town. This is also where the Laurie/Travis love potential became a bit more plausible—and what made this relationship worth rooting for was that they were never meant to be the Ross and Rachel of this show. This is just something that seems like it’s been growing since season one and unlike Ezria in Pretty Little Liars, the age-difference somehow didn’t seem too creepy (it helped that they were aware of the age-difference). Ellie started owning “Sure-sure” and “Change approved!”, Travis introduced us to the Green Screen, and Bobby started having more serious storylines in this short season which was also when ABC decided to cancel the show before TBS made its smartest decision yet.
Favorite Opening Title Cards:
-“Yeah it’s still called Cougar Town, we’re not happy about it either”
-“Welcome to Cougar Town; no it’s not just Scrubs in Florida with a lot of wine”
-“She’s marrying a man her own age, so why is it called Cougar Town”
-“Welcome to Cougar Town; are we still on TV?”
Cougar Town moved to TBS in season four (because God listens to our prayers) and while there was the dread that it might not remain the same dysfunctional show we fell in love with, nothing really changed for us viewers. The cul-de-sac crew was still as hilarious and amazing as ever. There was no long-term storyline (such as the wedding in season three and Jules’ and Grayson’s new relationship in season two), but the writers took advantage of this glorious revival and gave fans exactly what they wanted: more fun, more wine, more Bobby/Andy man-love and eventually the highly-anticipated Laurie/Travis kiss. More risks were taken with the flashback episode (Flirting With Time) which was insightful and luckily so much better than most flashback episodes on TV. The show’s strongest element isn’t just the comedy though; it’s how it blends its funny moments with some real, emotional drama—and season four delivered on that note with a storyline that I never would’ve seen coming: Jules’ dad getting Alzheimer’s. It’s a poignant and powerful scene (Don’t Fade On Me) where we (you know, Jules and us) discover that her dad is sick and she can’t keep saving everyone anymore (except for the show; that thing gets saved all the time).
Favorite Opening Title Cards:
-“Welcome BACK to Cougar Town; thanks, TBS. Can we curse on TV now?”
-“I got hired on Cougar Town and they only let me write these. My name’s Donny. Hi, mom.”
-“Donny made the title cards about him, so he’s gone now.”
-“Call your mom, tell her you love her. We’re trying to do something positive with these.”
The gang has rarely had an off-night with consistently hilarious episodes and touchy moments that have helped the show stand out from other sitcoms, and season five was no different. Laurie and Travis’ relationship proved to be not that big of a deal because the writers rarely focused on them as a couple, and kept the dynamic within the group as a whole (which is probably a good thing). Anytime the show became too silly or too exaggerated in season five was okay, simply because the cast is marvelous and can make anything seem funny. Cox, Hopkins, Philips and Miller alone have incredible chemistry together, and their performances are beyond remarkable. I wasn’t too fond of the Mathew Perry/Courteney Cox reunion episode (but then again, it was way better than Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow’s episodes). I’ll give you this—the show is always ready to surprise us and take risks. We’ve been lucky to share five seasons with them so far, and I for one can’t wait for the final chapter.
Favorite Opening Title Credits:
-“Season Five? Didn’t see that coming.”
-“Welcome to Cougar Town, now with more Friends.”
-“Wine Spectator gave this episode 96 points.”