Cougar Town‘s fifth season also marks its second on TBS, the network that saved it from the jaws of death after ABC announced it would not be renewing the cult favorite. Since then, fans have clamored for more saves and revivals (for shows like Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23: basically, ABC’s discarded comedies), to no avail. TBS made a smart choice to snatch up a show like Cougar Town, though, because unlike some other comedies, the show doesn’t need to grow or change. The strength of the established personalities of the denizens of the cul-de-sac are Cougar Town‘s defining mark, and its fifth season plays that up while managing to keep things fresh. Hit the jump for more.
Cougar Town (like so many ABC comedies) has always missed out on a certain fan base because of its name (something the creators are well aware of and often parody with a subtitle during the opening credits). However, those who have invested in and hung on to the show, every year is a comfortable return to a group of wine-soaked, Gulf-shores living friends who spout out an incredible number of jokes per episode.
The show’s fifth season seems to have slowed things down ever so slightly though, allowing for a more relaxed feel instead of its typical manic pace. But Cougar Town‘s beloved absurdity is all in place, like Bobby (Brian Van Holt) administering a “pup-ternity” test to see if Dog Travis (not to be confused of course with Son Travis) was indeed the father of a litter of puppies spotted at the park. (“I always suspected he was a teenage boy who made a wish at a carnival to be big,” as one character describes Bobby). Elsewhere, Laurie (Busy Philipps) attempts to get more customers at her cake shop by making it adult-themed, with all of the innuendo that can be managed.
In the second episode, neighbor Tom (Bob Clendenin) is discovered having a replica cul-de-sac model built in his garage, complete with creepily-accurate miniature figurines. The series has never been afraid to poke fun at itself, and the meta jokes that play out with the cast in miniature form — through Travis (Dan Byrd) and Tom playing with them — are strange and hilarious, working off of the entrenched personalities of the cast.
Occasionally though, Cougar Town gets subversive with these expectations, like when Ellie (Christa Miller) has an alter-ego known as “Charming Ellie,” a magnetic and sweet personality that Jules (Courteney Cox) can’t get over. “I’m intrigued, but I still feel like she’s going to drain all of their blood and leave them in a ditch,” a wary Grayson (Josh Hopkins) says of Ellie’s interactions with a group of socialites.
The show is not without its sappy moments though, but at least since Laurie and Travis are now a true couple, that “will they / won’t they” that dragged some of the show down last year has been resolved. Also, there are (as of the first few episodes) far fewer references to the show’s running gags, like Jules’ giant wine glasses (or vases) or Penny Can. In this way, the show is subtly changing, and growing past its initial gags into a show that embraces that past while also coming up with fresh situations for the cul-de-sac crew to face. It doesn’t have to, yet it’s a good thing. Regardless, there’s not much better in the doldrums of winter than seeing Gulf beaches and barefoot citizens walking around town with their wine glasses in hand. It’s always 5 o’clock in Cougar Town.
Cougar Town returns to TBS Tuesday, January 7th at 10 p.m.