Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cougar Town, "Here Comes My Girl": Popping your balloon

Quick spoilers for tonight's "Cougar Town" coming up just as soon as I get the rolling pin...

It's not at the level "Modern Family" is maintaining right now, but "Cougar Town" has found itself a nice little groove, and the show feels particularly strong in episodes like this one that just throw all the characters together into a situation to see how they bounce off of each other.

In particular, this episode was the biggest, and strongest, focus so far on Jules and Travis's usually awkward, occasionally sweet mother/son relationship, and I thought it did a nice job of illustrating how tricky (if not outright stupid) it is to try to be The Cool Mom to a teenage son.

In and around some of the pathos of that, there was some inspired silliness, like Andy's panic at having to keep a secret from his wife, or the guys getting all pumped to beat three neighborhood kids at basketball. (Note that the girl is on crutches the second time we see her.) The show has also become very good at using music (beyond Grayson's guitar songs), from the hilarious use of Kenny Loggins' "Playing With the Boys" (from this infamous "Top Gun" scene) during the basketball sequence, to the more poignant use of Noah and the Whale's "Give a Little Love" to accompany Travis and Jules silently getting dinner ready (and showing the bond they share, even through all the angst).

There's a warmth to the show now that I'm not sure I would have expected from that pilot. Simply put, I like these people - in part because they make me laugh, but in part just because I like them. Not every TV show has to work that way, but it's how "Cougar Town" is working.

What did everybody else think?


Elizabeth said...

I enjoy Cougar Town much more than I thought I would. (The name just sounded gross and blah to me.) Travis wins me over a little more every week, so I enjoyed this focus on the Jules and Travis relationship.

Andrew Gordon said...

I have to agree that spending time with these characters is enjoyable in a way that simply isn't there for other sitcoms. I couldn't get through more than the first few episodes of Modern Family partially for this reason - the "cool dad" character simply irritated me every time he came on screen, whereas Jules can actually be endearing as well as ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I like it more and more every week. Back in the pilot, I didn't think I'd care for Bobby at all and I thought Grayson, while funny, would be grating. I never thought that just a couple of months later I would actually feel bad for them as they realized that each of them have feelings for Jules. It was nice and a little sad. Bobby's got more heart (and is more self aware than he lets on) and Grayson's breaking out of his misanthropic shell.

I enjoyed Ellie's glee at winding everyone up to see what happened and even though the scenes with Jules and the girlfriend were painful, there was decent enough payoff. I like that Jules buries Travis's presents in the yard.

And who can resist a nod to the best homoerotic volleyball game in cinematic history?

srpad said...

I am digging this show more and more each week but was disappointed by the very cliched introduction of a love triangle. I hope both guys keep their promise to put it under wraps.

Also I was expecting the scene at dinner at the end to build up to a joke. In hindsight, that it didn't was not so bad.

LA said...

Good fun. I think BL got the msg and toned CC down. Bravo, sir. I tip my hat! (In my head, he's reading this.)

Rinaldo said...

I liked it too, and for much the same reasons Alan said. (I also like it for a shallow reason: all the men actually dress as if they live in Florida.)

Building up a community of characters who will come alive and simply be funny (and likable) when they interact in any combination is the goal of a lot of sitcoms, but few achieve it. Remarkably, this fall we have 3 that are doing it well: this one, Community, and Modern Family. (Andrew Gordon, you might want to take a look at the two most recent episodes: they rounded out Phil, the cool-dad character, amazingly astutely. Maybe you still won't like it, but I do think they addressed that problem in a way that shows they know what they're doing.)

Emily N. said...

I agree about enjoying spending time with these characters. I thought this episode was really good. I even saved it on my DVR to watch again.

Unknown said...

I also agree about enjoying spending time with these characters. Since I very rarely laugh at comedies, I mainly judge them by that criteria.

I've found that Parks & Recreation and Cougar Town are my two favorites right now for that reason. Even though intellectually I feel like I should prefer Modern Family, The Office, and 30 Rock.

Oaktown Girl said...

I hate the show title*, but I do rather like the show. It got a chance from me because it follows Modern Family.

Funny thing about this episode: last week's episode kind of ruined for me what was supposed to be a sincere moment between Travis and his mom. When Travis was telling his mom about when he and his girlfriend were considering "going all the way" as it were, I spent the whole time wondering if he was just messing with her head, like the way he hosed Grayson with his "coming out" gay act.

*"Courgar" is not a term of empowerment for women, it's straight-up sexist. It says that women who like younger men are predators. Men who like younger women? Well hell, that's normal.

Anonymous said...

They've pointed out the double standard on the show multiple times. It seems to me that they know both the literal and subtextual meaning of "cougar". The show title also has a literal meaning (though they've ignored it since episode one) and is a cutesly double entendre. I'm assuming that, especially with the revelation that Grayson and Bobby both have feelings for her, that the initial premise will fade away as the characters become more real.

Sister T said...

At the start of the episode, watching Courtney Cox plan and prepare Thanksgiving dinner, I wondered "How am I not going to compare everything she does to Monica and a Thanksgiving episode of Friends?" Then, by the end, I had completely forgotten about Friends.

It was nice to watch this new group of friends gather together.

My favorite bit was Lori making the buzzer sound when Jules spoke without her filter.