Cougar Town finished up its third season a few weeks ago. It was a pretty short season - only fifteen episodes this time, and it seemed like even the show was caught off guard by this. A handful of vague overarching plots were left laying around. It’s never been a show to take itself seriously though, and for this, the third season of the show was much like the first two, a group of friends hanging out and drinking wine.
In some ways this season may have been lesser than the others. It occasionally entered into sitcom fairytale land, where whatever they want can happen, and it can happen in unbelievable timeframes. Laurie is revealed to be an aspiring and talented baker and achieves her dreams within an episode or two. For whatever reason, Andy starts to run for mayor, though it’s unclear if it’s even an election season. In the finale, Travis makes a fool of himself in front of the gang, and Wade magically shows up for Laurie. That’s not really Travis’s style, and as for Wade, I’m assuming the army doesn’t let you duck out early because you have a romantic engagement to attend to.
The weird romantic threads between Travis and Laurie can also be a bit dull. It’s a relationship more interesting as an unspoken (or at least, rarely spoken) flirtation. It’s a fine portrayal of those odd innocent pastimes with no true intent. When the show tries to bring more to it, it tends to become less exciting. They hardly make any sense for one another. When the gang intervenes, it just gets weird. The bizarre dynamic between Travis and Jules (his mother) is generally played quite carefully with both of them acknowledging the oddness and discomfort. They’re both in on the joke, making the relationship less weird. When Jules does these things without Travis’s consent and with the approval of the gang, it makes them all seem a little odd.
Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke dropped by for an extended guest spot (a number of others appeared as well, albeit more briefly - Cougar Town’s show runner was a major part of Scrubs). It’s always nice seeing her, although her rhythm didn’t perfectly adapt from the bouncy and speedy flow of Scrubs to the simply less engaging and quick Cougar Town. It’s the south after all - they talk a bit slower.
But these broader complaints and praises are largely not what the show is. The show is about getting Stan to play Penny Can and sneaky weddings on the beach. Among the finer points this season brought was Grayson having a daughter he didn’t know of. It’s introduced with such casualness and dealt with so poignantly that it fits in perfect. There was no way Jules could have another child - Grayson’s kid may be some deus ex machina, but it might be the only answer that could keep everyone happy.
In the end, that’s what Cougar Town is, and for that, it may not be the smartest sitcom, but it’s frequently among the most charming. Fortunately, the show has been taken off of ABC’s hands by TBS. Not that TBS is known as a place where anything thrives, but admittedly, the lower expectations of the network can only allow Cougar Town more freedom. Fifteen episodes have been ordered. And for those who aren’t watching - the name couldn’t be more of a misnomer.