Entertainment Television

Review: 'Cougar Town' still silly, sweet in all the right ways

It's appropriate that "Cougar Town" finally begins its third season on Valentine's Day, because the charming and wonderfully funny sitcom always has had love in its heart.

Not just romantic love—although there is plenty of that in the season premiere (7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, ABC; 3.5 stars)—but also the love between family members and between friends.

In Tuesday's premiere, Jules (Courteney Cox) feels the gang is mocking her for being too predictable—they are—while Grayson (Josh Hopkins) gets serious about his feelings toward her. Bobby (Brian Van Holt) keeps finding excuses to visit son Travis (Dan Byrd) at the house he’s moved into with seven other college kids and a homemade "green screen." Ellie (Christa Miller) and Andy (Ian Gomez) are so disturbed by their "devil baby" that Ellie asks Laurie (Busy Philipps) for advice.

And yes, the entire "cul-de-sac crew" still drinks copious amounts of wine together. (When Jules asks, "Are we only drinking on the weekends now?" that gang shouts defiantly, "No!")

They still annoy each other, too, but remain solid friends anyway—which is the brightly written and never overly sentimental premise of the series that started out with a decidedly different approach. "Cougar Town" debuted to mixed reviews in 2009 as a comedy about 40-something Jules dating 20-something guys. But that initial concept was thankfully dumped before the end of the first season in favor of a story about Jules’ group of friends who hang out and consume large amounts of wine.

Large numbers of viewers didn’t stick with the show long enough to see how creator Bill Lawrence and his writers transformed it into a smart comedy worthy of its former spot on Wednesday’s schedule with “Modern Family,” and now it is in danger of being canceled. (So tune in!)

Part of the reason “Cougar Town” wasn’t able to sustain ratings is that it remains stuck with the misleading title, which Lawrence thought about changing but ABC balked. So now the writers simply make fun of it. The show’s title card Tuesday reads: “Yes, it’s still called ‘Cougar Town.’ We’re not happy about it either.”

Viewers can be happy the show is back and replacing the awful “Work It,” even if only for a truncated 15-episode season. “Cougar Town” returns with its wit, silliness and good-heartedness fully intact. It’s amazing how many jokes and goofy moments the writers can fit into each scene—expertly played by the fine cast—but keep the characters grounded in the show’s decidedly absurd reality.

When Lawrence asked Twitter followers for possible new show titles last fall, I suggested “Family Jules” not only for the childish double entendre (hey, I’m immature, what can I say?), but because the series always has struck me as a loving tribute to the families we create out of friends.

No matter what happens between members of the cul-de-sac crew, they still love each other. And I can drink to that.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in Lake Michigan

    'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in Lake Michigan

    During an early morning jog along Lake Michigan with his wife and children Tuesday, John Corba spotted a man struggling in the water nearly 30 yards from the shore.

  • Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann watched the world change from behind his drum kit, shoveling coal in the wildly tribal rhythm section as the Dead went from San Francisco underground curio to ground-breaking indie outfit, then progenitor of the improvisation-based rock...

  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The cliché that colors every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to restaurant shift supervisors.

  • Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Unlike previous summers, UniStaff is experiencing a spike in job applicants at its Little Village location, a trend the branch manager says is tied to the city's minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Wednesday.

Comments
Loading