»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«


Cougar Town: The Complete First Season
August 19, 2010

The first season of Cougar Town is now available on DVD, and I’m glad, because it provides a great reason to reconsider the show.

The original concept, Courteney Cox as a divorced woman dating younger men in Florida, has been thankfully left behind, along with the use of the vaguely sexist “cougar” to describe the type. (Ostensibly, the name comes from the high school team, the Cougars, but as one of the creators of the show says in the featurette, “No one’s ever said the word ‘cougar’ on Cougar Town.”) Instead, the show has developed into a funny ensemble piece, exploring how adults interact in middle age.

Cougar Town cover
Cougar Town
Buy this DVD

Christa Miller (Scrubs) is the longtime best friend and next-door neighbor, married to Ian Gomez (The Drew Carey Show, Felicity) with a new baby (which thankfully isn’t seen much, keeping attention on the adults). Busy Philipps (Freaks and Geeks, Love Inc.) is Cox’s co-worker at her real estate firm, representing the younger perspective and providing someone for Miller to fight with. The standouts for me, though, are neighbor Josh Hopkins (Swingtown) and son Dan Byrd (Aliens in America). Hopkins’ character started as a living example of gender hypocrisy (when he gets divorced, no one thinks twice about him sleeping with girls half his age) but has since become friend and love interest, a much stronger role.

My quibbles are those typical of Hollywood. For example, I wish Miller hadn’t frozen her face in order to appear younger. It’s a bit creepy at times. And there’s an early emphasis on proving Cox is still hot (= thin) by showing her in lingerie, at the same time we’re asked to pity her for being alone (= divorced mother). The Barb character, a ridiculous caricature who got all the “horny older woman” jokes once the focus started changing, thankfully has mostly disappeared from the show. (No reflection on the actress, Carolyn Hennesy, who does a good job with what she was given.)

The characters are a bit sex-crazed, but that’s balanced by the underlying air of deep friendship. The early episodes were all about sex and body image (sometimes to the point of Too Much Information), but as time went on, the show developed into something less crude and funnier. I know Modern Family is the hot domestic sitcom, but I enjoy this one more, because the people are goofy enough to be funny to watch but also seem like people I could know and like hanging out with. (Even if they’re all borderline alcoholic.)

This three-disc set contains all 24 first-season episodes (fun fact: all the show titles are Tom Petty songs), plus these bonuses.

  • The five-minute “Taming Cougar Town”. It’s described as “Discover how Cougar Town has evolved from its initial comedy pilot into today’s more subtly sexy ABC hit,” with several participants talking about “celebrating women in their 40s”. It compares what the show was originally intended to be — focusing on a single woman over 40 interested in dating younger men — to how it became a more general sitcom about “family made up of friends” as the season went on.
  • 15 deleted scenes, running about 10 minutes
  • Two minutes of bloopers, more of a gag reel
  • The “Saber-Tooth Tiger Town” parody from Jimmy Kimmel Live with Cloris Leachman and a foul-mouthed Shirley Jones
  • Josh singing “My Sexuality”, as a music video recut to scenes from the show
  • Ask Barb, nine website “video blog” clips making sex jokes
  • the similar “Stroking It With Bobby Cobb”, four clips making fun of the dumb golf pro

That’s not many extras, which is a shame — I would have enjoyed a couple of commentaries. Seeing the creators talk on the short featurette made me want to hear more about their perspective and how they’ve adjusted the show over the season. They were apparently considering renaming the show, given how increasingly irrelevant the title had become, although they decided not to. I wish they would; I nominate “Friends With Benefits”. (The studio provided a review copy.)

17 Responses  
Argo Plummer writes:  

Wow Johanna! Something we can agree upon! Will wonders never cease?

(Actually, we seem to have similar taste in much of our TV viewing–I too love Leverage and if I remember correctly we both enjoyed Reaper, anyway…)

I hung with Cougar Town all season for two main reasons: 1) I have an affinity for Bill Lawrence and his shows–I love Spin City (the Michael J Fox years) and Scrubs is one of my all time favorite shows; and 2) as you aptly pointed out, the ensemble cast is so strong. I too was thrilled to see the show change it’s focus and become a much stronger show as the season went on. I know Modern Family gets a lot of love and the Middle has the always brilliant Neil Flynn, but Cougar Town was the only one that I had to watch each week by the seasons end.

Yes, the title has always been terrible and no longer is appropriate it, but I think that it would hurt the show to change it now. Of course, the show bled viewers as the season went on, so maybe a rebranding wouldn’t hurt, but as you said, the point is moot.

I too love Josh Hopkins’ Grayson (my youngest son’s name coincidentally–he’s almost two so we weren’t influenced by this Grayson) and his songs crack me up–I love “sex with your ex” and “confident in my sexuality”–I quote Jules when I say that might be my new favorite song. Dan Byrd is great too, but I think my favorite is Ian Gomez–I love his Andy as I see so much of myself in him, but he’s a whole lot funnier.

Courteney Cox is not as strong a lead as Michael J Fox or Zach Braff, but Bill Lawrence has a knack for assembling great ensemble casts and this one is very strong. I also love how he brings actors from each of his previous projects along–Scott Foley, Alan Ruck, and the creepy neighbor guy stalking Jules who was a creepy, sexually deviant doctor in Scrubs have all shown up this season alone. Even the actor whom I consider the weak link–Brian Van Holt as Jules’ ex Bobby–has contributed some stellar moments. I was watching the episode last night where he steals animals from the petting zoo and cooks them–his comment–“It’s like the soaps at a hotel, they expect you to take them.”–classic!

Great job highlighting this show that may be lost in the shuffle but deserves a wider audience!!!

 
Johanna writes:  

Thanks for putting in Bill Lawrence’s name — I should have included that — and pointing out some more strong points. I did like Scott Foley’s arc as a potential boyfriend that doesn’t quite work out. (And yes, I miss Reaper, too, although I’m enjoying the girl demon who’s now a DA on The Good Guys.)

 
spuffyduds writes:  

This was not remotely on my List of Shows to Bother Checking Out, and now it is! Thank you!

 
Argo Plummer writes:  

How is the Good Guys? The promos didn’t catch my interest, but when I learned it starred Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford and was set in my home town of Dallas, my interest was peaked. I haven’t caught up with it yet, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And Scott Foley is on my list of “man crushes” (along with Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris, and Payton Manning) and I believe he makes anything he is in better. I am sad things didn’t work out between he and Jennifer Garner, but then those two together would be just too much raw awsomeness for any of us to handle…

 
Johanna writes:  

I really enjoy The Good Guys. It’s got a neat sense of humor, wonderful acting, and plenty of excitement. I’m planning to talk about it when it returns in September, since Fox has seen fit to bury it on Fridays.

Spuffyduds, I hope you enjoy it! Glad I could help.

 
El Santo writes:  

“Friends With Benefits” might be a little to close to “Friends,” which can get confusing when Courtney Cox being the star is factored in. I read on the AV Club that another proposed name was “Jules Neighborhooding,” which … which is baffling, to say the least.

But anything’s better than “Cougar Town.” Literally ANYTHING.

 
Johanna writes:  

ES, that was the point. :) Cougar Town has become a later-generation Friends, and I think that association is obvious to many. One of the official renaming suggestions, if I recall correctly, was “Friends and Neighbors”.

 
James Schee writes:  

Interesting, I caught one of the early eps of this(had a crush on Cox since she was on Family Ties) and just found it excruciatingly bad. Maybe I’ll give it another look next time I sign up for Netflix.

 
Johanna writes:  

Try past episode six or so to see how the show was changing. You still may not like it, but the later installments are different from the early ones.

 
Argo Plummer writes:  

Johanna–I also forgot the wonderful Barry Bostwick who plays Busy Phillips’ characters’ boyfriend, Smith’s father (have fun conjugating that sentence, especially since I know my punctuation is way off). He was of course the mayor on Spin City and made a brilliant appearance in an episode of Scrubs (“My Dirty Secret” for anyone who cares).

James, I think you will find the second half of the season far superior to the first. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

 
Vievarama writes:  

Did anybody else notice that the last two episodes are out of order on the DVD? “Finding Out” was the finale but it plays before “Breakdown”, even though they are listed correctly inside the case. I watched this show so much on my DVR waiting for it to come out on DVD…love it!

 
Johanna writes:  

I didn’t notice that! (I haven’t had the chance to rewatch all the episodes yet.) Interesting. I’ll have to check that out.

 
Jeff writes:  

Mine DVDs have the last two episodes out of order,too! I found this site in my search to find someone else with this problem? Are they reprinting them? Are you taking it back?

 
Easy A » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[...] surprising depth in the short time he’s given as the gay friend. (Byrd is also the son on Cougar Town.) Michalka, now starring in the surprisingly good cheerleader show Hellcats, is another odd role, [...]

 
Argo Plummer writes:  

Johanna,

Have you been watching season two thus far? I think the ensemble has continued to gel and the humor is getting better after a misstep with the season premiere–I thought the Jennifer Aniston stunt casting was not very good, but then again, I can’t stand Jennifer Aniston, so it wasn’t a big draw for me. I am loving the way they are handling Travis’ transition to college and it give Dan Byrd some fun stuff to do.

While I wish Andy got some more screen time, I am still really enjoying the show and happy to see the numbers grow just a bit as the season has progressed, though some media outlets are attributing that to the Cox / Arquette break-up and subsequent Cox/ Hopkins hookup rumors, which whether they are true or not, and not to make light of a separation, especially with a child involved, but simply from an aesthetic standpoint, can you blame her trading David Arquette in for Josh Hopkins?

Anyway, I was mostly writing to see what you think of the opening title scene this year. If you haven’t been watching, each week they have replaced the “Welcome to” just above “Cougar Town” with a self deprecating reference to how terrible the title is. The first week it said “Still Cougar Town” followed each subsequent week with a new and funnier take, such as “No Cougar Cougar Town” or “Badly titled Cougar Town”. My favorite thus far was last weeks (I think) in which abouve “Cougar Town” is simply said “Titles are hard”. I love the fact that they not only stood by the title but also are able to acknowledge how inaccurate it is and that is wasn’t a good choice in the first place.

Still think it’s the best show ABC has on Wednesday nights!

 
Johanna writes:  

I am loving that they are poking fun at the title! I also really enjoyed this week’s Halloween episode, from the costumes (especially Greyson’s “Prince”) to the emotional underpinnings. We usually get laughs from watching it, which is all I can ask from a sitcom.

 
Argo Plummer writes:  

I loved this weeks episode too–the costumes were great, though I must admit I saw the “Prince” twist coming, it was still fun to see him dressed as Prince. I loved Ellie as Laurie and vica versa. Travis was a great “Andy” and the best line might have been in reference to Andy’s costume–“You’re Dom Deluise dressed as Burt Reynolds–genius!” It also was nice to have the emotional underpinnings–a Bill Lawrence special, plus the great Ken Jenkins as Jules’ Dad was wonderful–while not the best song on the series, I did enjoy his duet with Grayson on “Family Jules”.

 
Leave a Comment


»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa
Copyright 2009-2014 Johanna Draper Carlson