Photo Credit: ABC
The problem with naming your show after a trendy term? Trends die out. When the hip factor fades, your title quickly begins sounding lame -- you might as well call your sitcom So Five Minutes Ago.
Is it possible the very word "cougar" is an albatross around Cougar Town's neck? (True, the term "cougar" was always lame, but it sounds even more laughable now that the only people using it are those who've heard about it on Oprah.) That would be unfortunate, because series title aside, ABC's Cougar Town is a witty, well-written show.
Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox) is a 40-something, still-hot divorcée with a quirky, perky personality. She's like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in The New Adventures of Old Christine, but living on a cozier cul-de-sac and working for a Florida real estate firm. Jules' world includes her wry teen son Travis (Dan Byrd), her handsome divorced neighbor Grayson (Josh Hopkins), her young and horny assistant Laurie (Busy Phillipps), her dippy ex-husband Bobby (Brian Van Holt) and the jaded married couple (Christa Miller and Ian Gomez) next door.
Jules dates men of all ages. There are younger guys, sure, but also older ones -- like a wrinkled, gray-haired mortgage broker she says she went out with because "I'm a history buff…. And I haven't been in a car with only a lap belt in a long time." Dating younger men certainly doesn't define her character. Meanwhile, the term "cougar" certainly tries to define the show.
Of course, Jules grapples with many of the issues that so-called cougars do. "Do you think every single person is here for Botox?" she asks Ellie in tonight's episode, in the waiting room of a miracle-working (though extremely nasty) dermatologist, played by Lisa Kudrow. Seeing these two actresses together naturally reminds us of their days together on Friends -- and frankly, in many ways, Jules isn't all that different from Monica, Cox's funny, earnest, always-striving-for-better character on Friends. She's older now, but do we have to dwell on that? Must the network anchor a whole series around the lead character's age?
Truth be told, this funny show doesn't need the cougar gimmick. Jules' half-baked ex Bobby lives on a boat in a parking lot, and he tosses around daffy acronyms like "GAC" (guilty as charged), even when they don't fit the conversation. Jules' sidekick at work, Laurie, is a party girl who tells it like it is—to hilarious effect: On the phone, she politely asks Jules to hold on—then screams like a banshee at the irritating apartment dwellers bickering next door. "Just give him his Creed albums back, you bitch! He doesn't love you!" She's funny -- and not a cougar.
Can a series change its name midstream? Networks have done it. Court TV became truTV. Sci-Fi Channel became Syfy. And so have some shows—like NCIS, which was called Navy NCIS in its debut season. If only this show's first word was as easy to drop.
Can you think of a better name for Cougar Town? Chime in below!