Cast: Courtney Cox, Christa Miller, Busy Phillips, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt
Last season impressed me. Cougar Town shook off its tough premise and found something heart-warming and welcoming, a winning sitcom. It only goes up from that first season. Ending on a high gear, this season keeps on accelerating, finding the key aspects that make the season so good and continuing with them. Cougar Town feels much more comfortable this time around and it makes this season much easier to get into.
The plot continues where the last one left off. Jules and Grayson are now a couple and Travis is heading off to college. The season adapts around these two plot points, never letting those overlapping stories get in the way of the simpler jokes. I am glad that Jules and Grayson seem like a steady thing, not going for the typical sitcom route of ‘on and off relationship’ that we have seen with Ted and Robin, Ross and Rachael, Leonard and Penny… I was worried that that would be the deal-breaker for Cougar Town, but the writers don’t take the obvious route.
I also enjoy how Cougar Town references itself as a text in subtle ways. Knowing that its title is pretty much null-void, now that Jules is dating someone her age, the title screen now references itself, with a little in-joke. Alongside this, the show highlights how many Scrubs actors have just come off that show and onto this one. This references get less subtle, until the final two-parter episode, when the writers hit you with the punch-line and you will laughing till your sides spilt. I enjoy this self-aware nature of the show and it makes it a nice, refreshing comedy.
The actors perform as admirably as always, making it hard to comment on them. One kind of new feature is the character of Tom, who is now a regular part of the show, always popping up and trying to become part of the group. One of the downsides to the first season, that I picked up on, was that it was trying to take the wild nature of Scrubs, but with fewer characters, which felt a little hollow. Well, now we have several guest-stars that can be called on for the jokes. We aren’t quite at the same level, where these jokes are always available, but it is a step towards the right direction, which I am hoping will be added to in future seasons.
A new feature is also the two-part finale. This is a nice way to ramp up the drama for a closing note. It does sadly fall back on the storyline of Jules being insecure, which is becoming the staple plot for almost every episode, but a change in scenery adds a fresh feel to the jokes. The emotional side comes in, but never lets the jokes get shoe-horned to the side. It is a great ending to a series that should be on everyone’s watch-list.
Final verdict: A definite improvement. This show has found its strong points and uses them to win a laugh every episode.