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Cougar Town: I Won't Back Down

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 15th 2009 10:29AM
Cougar Town: I Won't Back Down(S01E04) First, let's get a mystery out of the way: the Tom Petty centric titles. I shot off a note to Bill Lawrence asking about it, and he Blackberried back to me that it's because a) Tom Petty is from rural Florida and b) he's Bill's favorite singer. So there you have it.

Now, on to this episode. We've all seen Courteney Cox play neurotic; she played neurotic for ten seasons on Friends. But we've also seen her play tough, confident and warm, whether it was on Friends or any of her other roles. Right now, either via the writing or the way she interprets the role, she's playing Jules Cobb as a purely neurotic mess, and a loud one at that. It's not endearing, it doesn't help me connect with Jules' plight, and, most importantly, it's not funny.

Tonight's episode was Jules at her most neurotic, and it made for the least funny episode of the first four. It's a bad trend that's starting to make me worry about the overall health of the show.

I think we know why Jules keeps wanting to get Grayson's goat at all times: she likes him. But there was no reason given for that attraction, even from the pilot. Was Jules jealous that Grayson gets to bed any young tail that he wants but she's criticized for doing the same? Was she just in lust with him and didn't know any other way to act it out than to be a pain in his keister? It all seemed very middle school and not the way a gorgeous 40-year-old should act.

And how 'bout Grayson? I never believed him for one second when he said that he wasn't attracted to Jules. Come on! For all of Jules' crazy, anyone can see that she's pretty hot, 40 or no 40. So he's just messing with her. At least now we know that he's got some emotional wounds under that smirky exterior: his wife left him because he wanted a family and she didn't, and now she's engaged and pregnant. So, Jules' efforts to get back at his snarkiness actually bonded the two of them a bit.

But I still don't buy the chemistry between the two of them. You know that they're going to hook up at some point, but it still feels like they're artificially being thrown together. Maybe more bonding in later episodes will make things more organic. Not sure.

What's interesting is that the rest of the cast -- except for Busy Philipps' Laurie, who still seems to be a caricature of a vapid twenty-something -- is starting to get some depth. I liked the fact that Ellie is willing to take backhanded compliments from Laurie in order to reaffirm to herself that she's still hot (and the sex cards she gives Andy were funny... mainly because it's probably painfully true for most married couples). Bobbyt is still a dolt, but at least he a) truly wants to bond with Travis, and b) still watches the sex tape he made with Jules when they were young because he's nostalgic for those days, not for the sex.

But the show is going to succeed or fail on Courteney Cox's shoulders. And right now, she's not making me care enough about Jules to prompt me into being interested in what comes next for her. And that's death for any sitcom.

In that note about Tom Petty, Lawrence told me that the show is getting better. Given the fact that he's not a big BSer in that regard, I tend to believe him, so I'll keep watching. But, right now, the show is having problems finding its footing, and it's tough to watch (not as tough as Hank, but then again, what is?).

[Watch clips and free episodes of Cougar Town at SlashControl.]

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Mike Poole

Petty was born in 1950. Gainesville of the 50s and 60s had a population under 30,000. It was a small town with a seriously rural surrounding area. Florida today ain't the Florida of 50 years ago, you young whippersnappers.

And you all "suuuuuuucks". This show is great. *shakes his cane at you*

October 15 2009 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hotdogjack

to say that this one is the worst yet is really saying something. this show suuuuuuucks.

October 15 2009 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bill

I don't agree at all with the critics of this show. I think it's the best new show to come along in ages. Courteney Cox puts her heart and soul into the part, and to say it is'nt funny, is absurd beyond belief. It's early day's yet, but I think this is the show that leads the way. Well done to Courteney and Bill Lawrence.

October 15 2009 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex K.

This is a terrible, terrible show. I tried my best to watch it because Scrubs was great (for a while). However this show doesn't seem to be Bill's idea but his wife's.

October 15 2009 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

It's a one-trick pony and the old horse is headed for the glue factory. She dislikes/likes the guy across the street because he's a mirror image. Both chase younger sex partners. Both are in good shape for their ages. Neither sees it in the other.

October 15 2009 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ColinInLA

Ensemble? Maybe. Mayyybe. Not the star of her own show. Casting's the problem.

October 15 2009 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beth

I like this show. I think it may be geared a bit more to females explaing why some of you guys don't like it. I like how absurd it is, reminds me of Scrubs.

October 15 2009 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GerryofNorVA

I want to like this show, it's a guilty pleasure, but I'm tiring of the 40-going-on-16 immaturity of it all. The female characters don't act anywhere near their age, and the male characters are stereotyped caricatures. I want to watch to like, but I think it's turning into watching to criticize, which will soon turn into not watching anymore. But the lead-in show "Modern Family" is thankfully more watchable.

October 15 2009 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allen Mendelsohn

Tom Petty is from Gainesville, a city of about a quarter million people and home of the University of Florida. Not quite "rural."

I agree, Courtney Cox' character is growing tiresome. Way too neurotic, which she didn't seem so much in the premiere. It's starting to turn me off what I thought was a good show.

Best part of last night's ep which you didn't mention was Travis getting his dad do do stupid stuff as "their thing."

October 15 2009 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Allen Mendelsohn's comment
Joel Keller

Allen, I was paraphrasing Bill when I said "rural Florida." He actually said "Rural Florida roots and my favorite singer." Maybe he was referring to his own roots... I knew Petty was from Gainesville, which definitely isn't rural, but I figured he had roots elsewhere in the state, too.

I did like the father-son bonding part of the episode. I especially liked when Andy wanted to join in on the hose-drinking, but Travis and Bobby tell him that it's a "father-son thing."

October 15 2009 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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