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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cougar Town roars to life


    ABC's Cougar Town was (rightly) ridiculed when it first premiered.  It had a mediocre pilot, and a weird premise.  Yet, shortly after the first episode, it dropped the whole garbage about older women dating younger men, other than a token Cougar character, Barb (Carolyn Hennesy), who is funny, but not even a main character.  Instead, it became about a group of older, but far from old, friends that get together, drink, and have fun with each other.  It's a more relaxed version of Friends, and it's become one of the best comedies on television.

     At the center of the series is Jules (Courteney Cox), and everyone else seems to kind of orbit around her.  Her son, Travis (Dan Byrd), is staying close by for college.  Her ex-husband, Bobby (Brian Van Holt) is one of her closest companions, which seems to have become a staple of television.  What happened to bitter exes who never speak again?  Except that Bobby is such an essential, lovable character, that despite his immaturity, you sometimes wonder why Jules ever dumped him.  She has now moved on to Grayson (Josh Hopkins), who she began dating after less than a season of will they / won't they tension, certainly a fresh approach.

     Also in the cast are Jule's long-time best friend, Ellie (Christa Miller), and her new best friend and employee, Laurie (Busy Philips).  Although they initially clashed over Jules's affection, they are already reaching an understanding with each other.  Clearly, Ellie has had practice with divided loyalties, because her own husband, Andy (Ian Gomez), sometimes seems to favor Bobby over her.

     The thing about the show is, despite the already drastically reduced tension in the group, they all just seem to enjoy each other so much, that it makes you feel good to watch it.  For instance, in the season finale, "Finding Out", everyone is now in a relationship except for Bobby.  So they all go out of their way to throw him a party on the beach and make him feel better.

     The whole concept wouldn't work without the hilarious, spot-on writing by series creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) and the staff.  The sitcom is already rivaling the best days of his last project.  I honestly just have no complaints, except, of course, the title.  There are already online suggestions of other possible titles, as well as plenty of rumor that the network in considering renaming.  My favorite is The Family Jules.  Haha, get it?  But, whatever the title, Cougar Town is a true jewel.

     The second season of Cougar Town will air next fall on ABC.

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