Cougar Town Season 6 Review

Cougar Town Season 6 Review

Cougar Town

Cougar Town‘s road to the pantheon of 100+ episode comedies has been a tumultuous one; initially dismissed by audiences from an increasingly ill-fitting name, Cougar Town‘s growth into a hilarious, occasionally poignant half hour about adult life was always a show looking over its shoulder. Nearly every season finale feels like it could operate as a series finale – which season three’s “Your World” nearly had to be, when ABC cancelled the low-rated, wine-soaked comedy. And then TBS came along, Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel stepped down as show runners, and Cougar Town lived to fight another day – or more accurately, another three years,  with its sixth and final season coming to close this spring.

Since that third season finale, Cougar Town‘s struggled a bit to stay relevant; while its premise as a wine comedy allowed for amusing, Penny Can-related hi-jinks every week, the last three seasons of Cougar Town haven’t had the same dramatic arcs to them, especially after Jules got married. And it’s led to a show that didn’t consistently challenge its characters in interesting ways, increasingly relying on gimmick-y premises (flashback episode!) and constant pop culture homages (and not the emotionally resonant Community kind) as time fillers. There have been some small satisfying arcs – Grayson’s proposal, Chick’s health deterioration – but as a cumulative whole, Cougar Town‘s latter three seasons lack the poignancy found occasionally in seasons two and three (and they got rid of Barb, the one remnant of its old identity it held onto after the first nine episodes).

Season six, in that sense, has been a slight return to form for the show. There’s challenging material to be consistently mined for stories, be it Bobby moving away, Ellie going back to work, or Laurie and Travis trying to make it as new parents. While these aren’t stories that resolve any long-standing conflicts, Cougar Town‘s sixth season has embraced its recent wackiness even further (Andy spends an entire episode in a Buzz Lightyear suit), but used that to embrace the few emotional conflicts it still has, building stories to resolutions, rather than the biggest gag of the script.

And it’s done so without forgetting some of the show’s fundamental wells for humor; Ellie duking it out with Grayson, Chick forcing everyone to contemplate their ways, and Andy flailing without Bobby glued to his side all remain important components of Cougar Town‘s humor, even as it deals with Grayson and Jules coming to terms with never having alone time, or Laurie and Travis’ anxieties about being bad parents. Make no mistake, Cougar Town isn’t going to blow anyone away with some major uptick in quality this season; but there’s no denying the show’s enjoying the energy and emotion flowing from the knowledge of it being the final season, and it’s clear Cougar Town‘s writers are inspired by this, creating specific, challenging journeys of middle life for each character to face as the show prepares to say farewell.

Does this elevate Cougar Town back into the pantheon of great comedies? I don’t think Cougar Town was ever there in the first place, really, but what this sixth season does is give the show a clear-eyed sense of purpose, for the first time since Grayson was trying to figure out how to ask Jules to marry him early on in season four. There are distinct arcs for everyone this season beyond “everyone drinks more” – and while I’ve loved Cougar Town for its relative simplicity over the years, the quiet character arcs introduced this season have given it unexpected pathos. Apparently, the saying about old dogs doesn’t apply to aging cougars; while Cougar Town‘s last season isn’t going to astound anyone, it’s shaping up to be a fitting send off for the Cul de Sac Crew, who’ve lasted longer on our TV screens than anyone could’ve expected back in the fall of 2009.

[Photo via TBS]

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  1. Mike Fakelast
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