Cougar Town: The Complete First Season Review
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When former Friends star Courteney Cox first premiered her new series, Cougar Town, I decided to take a pass. The title, after all, seemed to suggest a show about a bunch of aging women (most likely dressed in some kind of animal print) throwing themselves at younger men. To me, that’s more tragedy than comedy. Still, the more I heard about the show, the more I wanted to give it a chance—and, once I did, I learned that you can’t judge a TV show by its title.

Cox stars as Jules Cobb, a recently divorced real estate agent who, at 40, is trying to adjust to being single again. The first few episodes do focus on her attempts to recapture her 20s and her experiences with younger men—as she tries to show up her neighbor, Grayson (Josh Hopkins), who brings home a new college girl every night. But the series soon shifts its focus. As the season progresses, the show is less about being a “cougar” and more about being friends.

  
 
In fact, the more you watch, the more you’ll realize that Cougar Town is like Friends at 40. Instead of 20- and 30-somethings gathering at their hip New York City coffee house to discuss careers and dating, the characters are 40-something Floridians—most of whom live on the same suburban cul-de-sac. With coffee cups or wine glasses in hand, they gather around the island in Jules’s kitchen—or in Grayson’s pub—to talk about marriage, kids, dating, and American Idol.

Fortunately, there’s only one real “cougar” on Cougar Town—and she’s a minor character. Though creepy, cartoonish Barb (Carolyn Hennesy) pops up for the occasional awkward moment, the rest of the characters are real—or at least close to real. Jules is like a grown-up Monica Geller—smart and hard-working and competitive but just a little bit crazy. She lives with her wry and witty teenage son, Travis (Dan Byrd), who’s far more mature than her ex-husband, Bobby (Brian Van Holt), an easy-going golf pro who drives a golf cart and lives on a boat that’s parked in a parking lot. Next door is Jules’s best friend, Ellie (Christa Miller), the sharp-tongued wife of hen-pecked Andy (Ian Gomez) and mother of baby Stan. And they’re often joined in the kitchen by Jules’s young assistant, Laurie (Busy Philipps), a ditzy blonde party animal, whom Jules sees as a “slightly younger sister.”

The characters aren’t always entirely lovable. Ellie is abrasive to the extreme, and Bobby’s middle-aged surfer dude act will sometimes grate on your nerves. But that’s the way friends are: they have their flaws, but you love them anyway. And you’ll quickly fall in love Cougar Town’s Cul-de-sac Crew, too. They’re loyal and supportive, and they’re quirky in the best of ways. Before long, you’ll find yourself caught up on their stories, wishing that you, too, could have wine with Jules and the girls and play Penny Can with Bobby and the boys.

Really, it’s amazing how much Cougar Town manages to cram into each half-hour episode. Each one has a little bit of guy time, a little bit of girl time, a touch of drama, plenty of laugh-out-loud comedy, and gallons upon gallons of red wine. It’s honest and observant and wickedly entertaining—and, with each new episode, you’ll love the characters more and more. So if you still miss the weekly camaraderie of Friends, you won’t want to miss Cougar Town. Be sure to pick up a copy of the first season on DVD now—so you’ll be caught up in time for the second season’s premiere.


DVD Review:
The three-disc DVD release of the first season of Cougar Town comes with some of the standard extras: a kind of making-of feature, a bunch of deleted scenes (including a scene from the pilot, with Grayson as a shrink instead of a pub owner), and a blooper reel.

The special features menu also includes a short music video for Grayson’s ridiculously catchy song, “My Sexualitay,” a hilarious extra from Jimmy Kimmel Live, and a couple of short series from the show’s web site. Fans of Carolyn Hennesy’s Barb will want to check out the nine-part series, Ask Barb, in which the show’s one and only cougar answers fans’ questions (in the creepiest, most disturbing way possible). And, in the four-part Stroking It, golf pro Bobby offers tips on everything from golf course trash talk to the celebration dance.

Though Barb’s video blog makes my skin crawl just a little bit, the rest of the features are worth a look. So if you’ve been missing your favorite Floridians this summer, the extras will help to tide you over until the beginning of the next season.

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