In the US: Wednesdays, 9.30/8.30c, ABC
I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to this. How can I put it? There was something about the title - Cougar Town - that didn't seem very subtle or clever. Some might even suggest it sounded crass.
Equally importantly, it also stars Courtney Cox, never my favourite Friend and whose Dirt was a steaming lump of rubbish.
But I have a duty to y'all to watch all the new shows out there (and I'm trying to get through Brothers right now), just in case an unexpected classic pops up that everyone should know about.
This ain't one of those. But it is a lot better than I was expecting.
Cox plays a recently divorced 40-something who finds all the men her age who aren't gay or broken is some way are dating younger women. So what choice does she have but to join all the other older single women in town and date young men as well?
Okay, Cox is still irritating and the show borrows shamelessly from Sleepless in Seattle, The Sweetest Thing and Sex in the City. But the script's reasonably good, and it has Christa Miller playing more or less the same part she played in Scrubs. Which has to be a good thing, right?
Can a woman of a certain age be a mom, a successful career woman and still be on the prowl? Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox) is about to give it a try.
In a small Florida town, the center of high society is the Cougars high school football team... which is wildly appropriate since this town is the natural habitat for over-tanned, under-dressed divorcées prowling for younger men. Jules desperately doesn't want to be one of them, but with an ugly divorce behind her and 40 staring right back at her, she's longing for a little more action in her life. The available men her own age, like her silver fox of a neighbor, Grayson Ellis, only seem interested in dating barely legal hotties -- which is awkward considering he's also her teenage son Tad's therapist. Egged on by her very married and very irreverent best friend Elle and her determined assistant Laurie, Jules reluctantly dips her toe back into the dating pool. To her surprise, she hits it off with a nice young guy named Bobby -- emphasis on the young -- and discovers this gal still has the goods.
Co-executive produced by Courteney Cox and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs), Cougar Town is the single-camera comedy that dares to tell the truth about dating after divorce. Juggling a teenage son with her thriving career and budding love life isn't easy, but before you know it, Jules will have you cheering, "Go Cougars!"
The series is from ABC Studios. Bill Lawrence is executive producer/writer/director, Kevin Biegel is writer/co-executive producer, and Courteney Cox and David Arquette are executive producers.
Cast and credits
Courteney Cox as Jules
Christa Miller as Elle
Busy Philipps as Laurie
Dan Byrd as Travis
Brian Van Holt as Bobby
Josh Hopkins as Grayson
Ian Gomez as Andy
Executive Producers: Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel, Courtney Cox, David Arquette
Is it any good?
I'm not going to say it's absolutely brilliant, but it did have a few moments of laugh out loud funny. A few of these involve Cox, many of them involve Miller and most involve Dan Byrd (Heroes, Aliens in America), who plays Cox's teenage son - who has to endure severe amounts of mockery at school thanks to her and his loser father.
Like Scrubs, Cougar Town tries to be funny and honest at the same time, dealing with issues of loneliness, the chances of finding a new partner once you're over 40, the aging process itself, reaching near middle age without having really ever lived and the double standards of a society that looks down on women who date younger men. It's a bit daffy, with big chunks of the pilot dedicated to a quest to hunt down the kid that's been stealing Cox's provocative-looking real estate billboards, but far less than Scrubs ever was.
The cast is all good, albeit a little unsubtle in most cases. Cox is in full Monica screech here, while her ex-husband is dopey but entertaining, Miller is pleasantly caustic and Byrd far less nerdy than normal. There's a hint that Cox may eventually give up her Cougar ways in favour of neighbour Grayson, but I imagine that's going to be further down the line.
It'll probably take a while to find its stride, and I doubt it'll ever soar to any great heights, but it's diverting enough and amusing enough, and sure beats Brothers.