February 15, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem


WHERE WE WERE: On a cul de sac in Florida, where for a brief period of time, divorcee Jules (Courtney Cox) pursued younger men–unfortunately, just long enough for this series to be pitched to ABC and launched with a title that, since midway in its first season, has had nothing to do with the show. Instead, the series has morphed into a show about (mostly) middle-aged wine-drinking buddies: control-freak Jules, her easygoing beau Grayson (Josh Hopkins), her bitchy-with-a-heart-of-gold pal Ellie (Christa Miller) and Ellie’s cowed but loving husband Andy (Ian Gomez), Jules’ blissfully common-as-dirt junior at her real estate agency, Laurie (Busy Phillips), Jules’ ex-husband Bobby (Brian Van Holt), who lives on a boat in a parking lot (it’s a long story), and her college student son Travis (Dan Byrd).

WHERE WE ARE: Pretty much where we left them, lo these many months ago when ABC last permitted COUGAR TOWN on its air. We find Jules concerned that when Grayson says she’s “predictable,” that must mean she’s boring; Ellie and Andy fearing that their toddler may be a “devil baby” (and maybe even worse, that he may start acting like Laurie, happily sporting her police-mandated ankle bracelet); and Travis having moved into a 2-bedroom house with 9 roommates that features a green screen that’s soon the obsession of the whole gang.
Cougar Town doesn’t have much use for plot, although it turns out this season premiere does lead to a big reveal: Grayson’s marriage proposal, which presumably means a season full of Jules driving everyone insane as she plans her own re-wedding. Mostly, though, like show creators Bill Lawrence’s and Kevin Biegel’s Scrubs, it specializes in switching between moments that are somewhat surreal and characters who are surprisingly sentimental.
The show is reliably smart, funny and more often moving than you’d expect–the cast, with one of those alchemic pieces of luck that doesn’t come along as often as networks would like, fits together perfectly, convincing us that they’re genuinely fond of one another. That Cougar Townhasn’t caught on is probably a combination of its very bad and misleading start (the title itself has become a running gag, referenced in the opening credits each week) and its refusal to be pinned down as either a fantasy or a realistic dramedy. (Scrubs had the same problem, and was usually on the bubble when it was time to decide network renewals.)
ABC hasn’t given the show much cause for optimism by pushing the season start to late midseason, cutting the year’s order and coupling it with the almost ludicrously incompatible Last Man Standing. And of course ABC is the one network that can afford to be picky with its comedy orders, boasting a lineup of hits, and with the very promising Apartment 23 in its wings. It would be nice to think, though, that they’ll continue to find a place for a series as likable, warm and amiably crazy as Cougar Town has turned out to be.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."