Cougar Town 2.03 “Makin’ Some Noise” Review

This week, Cougar Town saw its characters deal with the aftermath of a big moment as well, but instead of the artificial and singular earthquake in this week’s Modern Family, Travis’move to college is a satisfying ongoing story that brings both the humor and the heart. And because the characters are all sort of scrambling to deal with this new status quo (or at least dealing with Jules dealing with it), the results are totally enjoyable and realistic.

Todd VanDerWerff suggested in his write-up of this episode that this series is really interesting because of how generally unlikable Jules is, even when the series tries to pretend she isn’t and I agree with that wholeheartedly. There is an assumption of everylady to Jules since she’s played by the super-likable Courtney Cox and because she’s the center of the story at almost all times.

But in reality, Todd’s right, Jules is insufferable. She’s been annoying, controlling and kind of crazy in all three of this season’s episodes: In the premiere, Grayson had to get away from her smothering attitude, last week, Travis had to do the same. Here, without Travis around, Grayson’s thrown back into the fire and he’s so frustrated and perhaps even a little terrified (in the way people in sitcoms are terrified) that he has to convince everyone else in the group to support Jules’odd cul-de-sac neighborhood watch crew. And eventually, she creeps out her son at his new school and refuses to see that any of her actions are remotely wrong, or even weird.

What’s interesting is how well the series works with this dynamic and makes it something of the norm. Usually it’s fine for sitcom characters to weird and quirky, but they still have to be obvious likable. Jules is not, but somehow individual episodes put her into specific situations where her bad qualities can be flipped for comedic value without completely undermining her as a lead or a real, believable mother and partner.

Part of how that works is that the rest of the people in the group tend to be or at least act jaded, sarcastic or stupid, so even when Jules acts like an overbearing shrill, it can be played off as ‘over-eager’or ‘caring’without too much work. Grayson and Ellie can roll their eyes, Laurie can looked confused and then the comedy bits come in and the episode moves on. It’s an odd dynamic and only so when you really think about it intently, but it’s something I’ll try to keep my eyes out for in the future.

Otherwise, like Modern Family, Cougar Town turned in a fine and mostly funny episode from start to finish this week. Individual episodes seem to be able to get away with little plot, and this effort’s focus on the neighborhood watch creates a surprising amount of comedic moments, particularly when glow sticks are involved. The cast is just so talented that they can be given a fairly thin set-up and a prop and quickly turn it into a moment where Ian Gomez is making Predator references.

And sometimes, it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the comedies for what they can do, instead of really taking them to task for what they don’t do. This is one of those times.

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