Cougar Town: Season 1 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DESPITE A hit-and-miss first few episodes during which it seemed to struggle to find a firm identity, new Courtney Cox comedy Cougar Town emerged as one of the funniest new American shows of 2010 on UK TV (in this case, Living).
A sort of midlife mash-up between Friends and Scrubs, the early episodes of Bill Lawrence’s show seemed content to play on the past glories of its stars.
Cox’s Jules seemed like an older, even more neurotic of her Monica persona from Friends, while her best friend and neighbour Ellie provided Christa Miller with an even more sarcastic and acerbic version of her Jordan Sullivan character from Scrubs.
Ironically, in a show about women struggling with midlife problems, it was often left to the men to provide the biggest laughs, while the decision to split the opposing sexes into two groups of three (Cox, Miller and Busy Phillipps and Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez and Brian Van Holt) seemed like a deliberate ploy to recreate the magic of the guys versus girls scenarios from Friends.
Not that this was necessarily a bad thing, of course, given the success rate of both past shows – it just felt lazy and not nearly as funny.
Fortunately, however, Cougar Town found some real momentum in its second half, as characters came into their own, and the cast began to operate like a proper group unit. The mix of laugh out loud comedy and drama was also more astute, proving that in spite of their early flaws (or similarities), the cast had done enough to make you care about them.
Of the cast, Cox overcame some of her more shriek-heavy, control-freak tendencies to emerge as an appealing lead (complete with believable insecurities), while Phillipps and Miller were good value as Cox’s best friends who found a perverse delight in bickering with, or just plain hating, each other.
The men, meanwhile, continued to steal the best moments, with Josh Hopkins’ bartender and potential love interest Grayson displaying near-perfect comic timing and genuine charisma (to match his good looks), and Gomez’s Andy (Ellie’s husband) a great slapstick partner-in-crime.
Dan Byrd, as Jules’ son Travis, was also a hit creation, displaying just the right amount of charm, outrage and affection as the coming-of-age teen, while Van Holt, as Travis’ childish dad, managed to overcome some of the sillier aspects of his character, Bobby, to find some nuance and layering.
The mix of drama and comedy, meanwhile, was never more realised than during the final episode, Finding Out, in which Jules and Grayson conspire to tell Bobby they are seeing each other, culminating in a fun but touching final few scenes between them.
The first season of Cougar Town also managed to throw in some decent guest appearances, including one from former Friends co-star Lisa Kudrow and a multi-episode appearance from Sheryl Crowe.
But it never overdid these, preferring to hang out with the show’s central group as much as possible, so viewers can truly get to know them.
Hence, by the time it had reached the end of its 24th episode, the prospect of a second season seemed effortlessly appealing. Stick with it, therefore, and Cougar Town is a highly entertaining romp that should consistently keep you smiling.
Episodes/No of discs: 24/3
UK DVD Release: August 16, 2010