Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cougar Town, "Don't Come Around Here No More": Who's the wild man now?

Quick thoughts on last night's "Cougar Town" coming up just as soon as I blow up a pumpkin...

Look, I'm easy to please sometimes. You give me an episode of a sitcom that features dudes crying as they watch "Rudy," and then has one of them acting out Andy Dufresne's escape from Shawshank, I'm going to be more or less in the tank for it.

But I think that while "Cougar Town" hasn't been nearly as good or as polished as "Modern Family" to date, an episode like this illustrates the same point I made in the previous post about last night's "MF." Sometimes, it's less about being wildly funny than it is about liking the characters on the show and being amused to spend some time with them. And I found, as Jules' secret barbecue grew and grew, that I actually quite like most of the people here - including crazy Jules herself(*).

(*) Courteney Cox is always going to play things big, I guess, so sometimes it's a matter of what you give her to play - or, in some cases, of giving her no one to play with. Seeing her freak out in the previous two episodes about her boy toy got grating in a hurry; seeing her struggle to entertain herself alone in the house all day was pretty funny. Maybe she just works better as a solo artist sometimes.

It's still a bit weird that the male characters are funnier and more well-rounded than the women(**), given the show's subject matter, but after being disinterested for the last few weeks, I found last night's episode to represent a show I would enjoy watching regularly.

(**) Or is this a gender identification thing? Ladies in the audience, what say you?

What did everybody else think?

27 comments:

Alan Sepinwall said...

Semi-related: Busy Phillips apparently stole the show at a "Dawson's Creek" reunion last night at the Paley Center.

Myles said...

I've never seen Shawshank or most of Rudy and still liked the episode, so that says something (about both the show and the fact that I don't watch enough movies).

I think it's no coincidence that the week after the boytoy leaves the picture things become that much more normal: perhaps Cox's overacting is simply easier to get in certain contexts? The ends mollify the means, perhaps?

keyser soze said...

I enjoyed this episode better than most because I saw the characters actually developing -- they weren't stuck to their niche from beginning to end. For instance, Jules's neighbor throws her husband a bone at the end of the episode, and her ex-husband told her he didn't play a hand in that.

My only real problem with the show is that it seems aimless. What is the overall objective of the series, and specifically, what goal are watching Jules try to obtain? Happiness with her age? That seems... reductive.

And as a female, I agree that the males are funnier -- but I think it's because all of the women are painted as high-maintenance, high-strung, and over the top. (Give me a break.) The men are much more laid back, and by contrast, you're simply going to like those characters more. I think the female characters need to be dialed down a notch, and I think we need to see more over-the-top antics from the males.

Marc said...

I think this was thr best ep to date and Alan I know many Women over 40 who think this is a very realistic depiction.

I actually thought there were a lot of laughs this week.

I respect your opionion but I am baffled how you were way more behind HUNG than this. This is funnier and frankly more believable

LA said...

OMG, my 40-yo macho brother is an bumbling IDIOT over Rudy! What is it about that movie? As soon as I heard Grayson say Rudy was on, I knew Jules was doomed. The "Shawshank Experience" was, indeed, her only shot (and hilarious).

It's not a bias because you're male, the men are better. (I've never cared about Josh Hopkins one way or the other before, but I LOVE him here. Especially as the wandering minstrel.)

This episode was not only entertaining, but it really redeemed the show for me. My interest had been fading. The scene with Ellie and Bobby was pivotal, I'm now hooked in to find out the backstory on the demise of Jules' and Bobby's marriage.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I respect your opionion but I am baffled how you were way more behind HUNG than this. This is funnier and frankly more believable

I love how whenever someone feels I'm being even slightly negative about a show - and I really did enjoy this episode - they have to invoke the fact that I said some kind things about "Hung" (a show where I also often pointed out problems, and really complained about the ending). It's like any praise for "Hung" automatically invalidates anything negative I might ever say about another show. It's a blot on my permanent record.

belinda said...

Heh. Thanks for the Busy Phillips link. Hehehe.

As for the show, I agree with keyser soze. For a show with such an obvious premise, it still feels pretty aimless. I like it when I watch it, there are some funny bits here and there, but I wouldn't care if I missed some episodes either.

Hatfield said...

See, Alan, I can forgive you Hung (because I enjoyed it too), while I'm much more likely to hold your Yankee fandom against you (congrats, by the way). Oh, and Myles, you haven't seen Shawshank??? Rudy is a good movie to see once, but The Shawshank Redemption is more or less necessary repeat viewing!

It's probably Cox, but I just can't get into this show. It's just too winky and obvious for me. I guess Modern Family is too, but those actors make me care in a way these don't.

amysa said...

I don't think it's a male/female thing, really. I'm also not really sure *what* it is, since I like all three of the actresses. There's just something a little more relatable where the men are involved, maybe because even though they're slapsticky and goofy at times, they're a little more subtle about it. I like most everything Busy Phillips has ever done and I probably like her a lot more than I like Josh Hopkins, but I prefer Grayson to Laurie. Something just hasn't quite clicked with the women, but I think it will. Last night's episode was my favorite so far and I enjoyed both the silly and the sweet. And dammit...that song *is* catchy.

The thing I've really come to realize with this show is that it seems to be written a lot like "Scrubs", but with the JD fantasy sequences removed. Last night that really jumped out at me when Jules was talking to Grayson about her neighbor's dislike of her. If she'd cocked her head to the side and we'd gotten a visual of her yardsale showdown, I really wouldn't have been surprised.

I'm loving the recaps of the DC event. I saw Busy at the Apatow panel at Paley a couple of years ago and she was really hard on the show and her experience on the show. She said that when she had to return there after guest starring on "Undeclared" she spent a great deal of time crying because she was so miserable. Good to know she had the drinking to distract her from how horrible it was. {g}

Marc said...

Alan Sepinwall said...
I respect your opionion but I am baffled how you were way more behind HUNG than this. This is funnier and frankly more believable

I love how whenever someone feels I'm being even slightly negative about a show - and I really did enjoy this episode - they have to invoke the fact that I said some kind things about "Hung" (a show where I also often pointed out problems, and really complained about the ending). It's like any praise for "Hung" automatically invalidates anything negative I might ever say about another show. It's a blot on my permanent record.


Sorry if I touched a nerve Alan. Fist of all I didn't know anyone else brouhgt up HUNG with you.

Second. I do respect your opinion and you are entitled to your thoughts regardless, especially since this is your blog.
However I read your recaps every week regarding HUNG and outside of the last episode I guess i felt there was a general approval of it. I felt if that show wasn't on HBO most critcs that praised it, wouldn't have. I found it frankly so unbelievable, unfunny, and above all else I didn't like any of the characters. There are some critics that will praise just about anything on HBO. I know you don't fall into that category (TRUE BLOOD as an example) and you are honest. I guess I just got a general sense of like about that show and this show the last few weeks, it seemed like you were ready to bail and so I guess in my head I didn't get what you liked so much about that show and don't about this. I get taht you liked this week's.

Again, you can like HUNG and dislike COUGAR - I guess reading you and appreciating your opinions in general, I was just surprised. Sorry if I offended you and certainly so if what i wrote came out snotty. You do a great job.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the meaning of the G.A.C. catchphrase that Bobby kept saying? I assume it's dirty slang...

LA said...

G.A.C. = guilty as charged

dez said...

I agree that the men are more well-rounded, but I also found that I liked Jules more because it seemed to me that Cox dialed down her manic energy (except in the sequence when she's trying on clothes and such and less than a half hour had passed, hee hee). If they can keep it like last night, I might stick around for the entire season.

Jeff said...

I was absolutely convinced the neighbor was dead and no one knew because he lived alone (with his barking dog). It would've worked too perfectly and I'm very surprised they didn't go that way (maybe because it was too dark for this very sunny sitcom). I like being wrong about the direction of the show, and so far CougarTown has been mostly well written.

So Cal said...

Best episode in awhile.

I am a USC graduate and i hate Notre Dame, but everytime Rudy is on I will watch it, no matter where in the movie they are. All my friends are the same way.

The "Full Shawshank" was pretty awesome too. Grayson's songs were funny. Good ep all around, hope they keep it up

Jon Delfin said...

Boo-boo in the end credits -- no listing for the "Hey, it's that guy" who played the mortgage broker/date. Can anyone identify him? Thanks.

Mark said...

Not sure the best place to ask this question, Alan, but I'm curious if you've kept an eye on The Middle at all?

I've found it to be, much like Cougar Town, a fun half hour spent with amusing characters, even if it's not wildly funny.

Your original comments implied you saw some promise but I didn't know what you'd thought of the subsequent episodes.

I require your opinion on all TV I enjoy, to validate me!! Heh.

bsangs said...

I loved Jules' line about wanting to drive in a car with only a lap belt (or something like that) as a reason for her "date" with Father Time. Lot of good one-liners in this episode. Enjoyed it very much.

GK said...

I believe that if the show had a better name it would be received much better. You have get past the title rather than the title drawing you in.

For my money, the past three weeks of Cougartown have been funnier than Modern Family. Cougartown, Always Sunny, Community, and Parks and Rec are vying for funniest show on TV right now IMHO.

George said...

"Full Shawshank?...", find me one man who was not enraptured with Andy Torres crawling through a few feet of yellow tubing and...well...I don't know how to end it, but who doesn't love Shawshank.

Considering how ubiquitous that film is, I'm surprised it hasn't been referenced a lot more in TV comedies, Marshall/Ted talked about it once...that can't be it, surely.

Owen said...

I LOVED the Shawshank Experience. That's the funniest thing I'll see all week.

How much do I love Ian Gomez? A whole, whole lot. Ever since Felicity and The Drew Carey Show. Hey, I'm just now realizing that it's a reunion of sorts with Christa Miller. I must be the last one to be figuring that out.

As for the characterization of the women on the show, I think that the reason I forgive it is because the show is from Bill Lawrence. On Scrubs, the goofy, shallow airheads were the guys -- J.D. and Turk especially. So where on another show I'd think of it as sexism, on this show I think "this is tame compared to the stuff J.D. did".

Karen said...

Yet another woman here to say, yes, the men are MUCH funnier than the women. Although I am delighted by all the scenes between Laurie and Travis. That kid is comedy gold.

schmoker said...

I feel like I have known people (men and women) like Jules all my life, so Cox's portrayal rings true for me. A lot of people are like her, always needing validation, and always being on and upbeat and loud. It also provides a great counterpoint to all of the rest of the characters. I really think if she toned it down, then the show wouldn't work a lot of the time.

Anonymous said...

Awful sums up the show...

Zachary said...

Did I miss an explanation at some point for the tom petty episode titles?

Anonymous said...

This show is SOOOO beyond awful. Painful to watch.

Anonymous said...

I think Courtney is so funny on this show. I do believe she is better than the other two ladies. I believe Courtney and the boys make the show. That Busy girl is so annoying, she drives me crazy!!!