Cougar Town 2.12 “A Thing About You” Review

Thanks to President Obama’s admittedly moving speech in Tuscon last week, Cougar Town was given the shaft of preemption. I’m not really sure if that alters the season as a whole, but I read a few places about a winter finale cliffhanger of sorts — remember, the series is going away for a while so Matthew Perry can do his thing on Mr. Sunshine — so it will be interesting to see if there is any shuffling in the next few weeks. Nevertheless, though I wouldn’t say “A Thing About You” was an episode worth the extra week of waiting, it was still a fairly enjoyable effort.

“A Thing About You” seems more interested in exploring some of the sweeter moments between these usually hilarious characters. This episode is certainly funny in spots, but it, for whatever reason, lacks the usual constant stream of LOL moments. That’s fine. One of the biggest criticisms that I hear about Cougar Town is that the characters aren’t real people or they act too cartoonish and while I don’t see that as an awful thing at all times, there is definitely truth to that. Therefore, it is nice to have an effort like this one that is more dedicated to refreshing some of the relationships and the partnerships of the characters, which will presumably make the hilarious moments later even more hilarious.

For obvious reasons, this season has spent a lot of time on Jules and Grayson and to a lesser extent, Travis’ life away from the suffocating-but-supportive culdesac crew. Those stories have been pretty damn good and often very funny, but lost in that transition has been a constant stream of Jules and Laurie stories and Travis and Bobby stories. It’s not as if the two duos haven’t spent any time with one another or something, but those relationships have been focused on less. It happens.

This episode fully acknowledges these facts and goes out of its way to make us remember that there is a reason Jules and Laurie are pretty great friends and that despite his inherent stupidity, Bobby can still be a great father to Travis. Clearly Laurie and Bobby are involved in these stories so there are a good deal of funny moments — most notably Laurie’s upstairs ransacking of Jules’ closet and their creepy bathroom conversation — but “A Thing About You” isn’t afraid to just let these tensions play out a bit over the episode’s running time.

Particularly with Jules and Laurie there’s sometimes a real question of why they’re actually friends. It makes so much more sense that Jules and Ellie are friends with their similar ages and general dispositions, but in certain cases, Laurie feels like the tag-along from work who Jules and Ellie hang out with because she’s easy to pick on. Now I still think that my theory holds up because you know women are just crazy like that, but this episode does a fine job in showing us that Laurie’s consistently sunny disposition and ability to let go of grudges make her the perfect friend for Jules (and Ellie). The elder ladies are more wound up and consequently a bit more sensitive to personal jabs, but Laurie isn’t. And she recognizes that in her two friends so she’s clearly worked hard at trying to be even more forgiving and easy-going.

With Travis and Bobby, things are always lighthearted and funny, but this season has made a really strong effort at making sure Bobby isn’t completely insane and clown-like every week. He’s gotten his professional life together just a bit and so it’s only fitting that he starts thinking about what he can do in his personal life to improve things. The relationship between he, Travis and Grayson is always going to be an uneasy one, but like Laurie, Bobby sees his value. He understands that he’s not the most put-together guy and that means sometimes his son will go somewhere else for advice. He can’t take that personally, but he still needs to fight for a spot every now and again. Good stuff.

Andy and Ellie are less busy this week, but their shenanigans at the wine bar with Michael McDonald’s snooty owner were a nice addition to the episode and presumably, the series moving forward.

All in all, this wasn’t the funniest or the best episode of Cougar Town, but it was an important one in the long-term stability and believability of the characters and their relationship. It’s a good detour to take.

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