Feb 14, 2012

Cougar Town is Back!

(Clockwise from top) Grayson, Jules, Laurie, Ellie, Bobby, and Andy (Travis not Pictured) 
It's that time of year again. Time to celebrate love and togetherness with the people you care about. Of course, I mean the Cul-de-sac Crew of Cougar Town, which returns for a third
season tonight at 8:30 on ABC. We here at Tableau Your Mind have been anxiously anticipating the return of our favorite Floridians, and, if you aren't already, it's definitely time for you to tune in as well.

Of course, it can be difficult to get people to watch Cougar Town. The hokey, one-note name definitely turns people away, and that's a real shame. Also, the jokes don't always land if you don't understand the characters - it takes a couple of episodes to really let the show sink in. But once you do, you are delighted by a group of people shooting the breeze, having fun, and being hilarious. One thing that creator and showrunner Bill Lawrence's previous shows Sin City and Scrubs tried to create was a sense of community and friendship between characters. Friends as a type of second family has certainly been a recurring theme. The only problem was that those shows were workplace sitcoms, so eventually some of the characters had to split apart and go home. With Cougar Town, Lawrence has taken his understanding of character dynamics and made the characters' homes the setting, pretty much getting rid of jobs altogether. Of course, Courteney Cox's Jules is still technically a real estate agent (as is Busy Philipps' Laurie) and Bobby is a golf something-or-other, but for the most part their jobs are immaterial.

What's important are the friendships and evolving relationships between the characters. Characters are allowed to blossom and co-mingle, creating hilarious and often poignant pairings. The cracker-jack writing and excellent cast (Christa Miller, Dan Byrd, Brian Van Holt, Ian Gomez, and Josh Hopkins all star as well) have grown the show from a groan-inducing premise to a delightful mix of ensemble comedy and pathos.

The show is no longer about a newly divorced woman seeking young action (even though cougar-in-residence Barb is still around). It's about relationships, romantic or otherwise. It's about the characters growing and trying out new things, knowing that they have a support system should they fail. There's Jules, hapless and fun, and her boyfriend Grayson (Hopkins). There's tough exterior Ellie (Miller) and her adorkable husband Andy (Gomez). You have Jules ex-husband and resident delightful-idiot Bobby Cobb (Van Holt) and her son Travis (Byrd). And you have Laurie (Phillips) - white trash genius. Put them all together and it's a grand old time.

Of course, there are also jokes. Whether it's quick one-liners or impressively serialized running jokes (The Larmy, Penny Can, truth guns, giant vases filled with red wine, etc.), there is always something to laugh at. So, on this February 14th, wrap yourself in a blanket, pour yourself a bottle of wine, and enjoy a half-hour with one of the best comedies on television.

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