‘Cougar Town’ – ‘The Damage You’ve Done’: Eat the sword!

10.14.10 7 years ago 19 Comments


A review of last night’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as I wear a visor to roller hockey…

When “Cougar Town” made its shift(*) to a show about silly, bored people getting drunk on wine and inventing weird games to amuse themselves – a shift I entirely approve of, by the way – I wondered if it would be able to maintain the mix of comedy and heart that Bill Lawrence used for so many years on “Scrubs.” The funnier the cul-de-sac crew became, the further removed from reality they were. They had emotions, and the show had emotional moments, but they tended to be pretty small-scale, and tuned into comedy, like Ellie finally realizing it’s okay to talk about Stan, and then not being able to stop.

(*) This week’s main title gag: “Not what the show is.” Of course.

“The Damage You’ve Done,” on the other hand, was going for bigger emotional stakes, and for a long time, I didn’t think it was working. Ellie’s running commentary on the reality show nature of Jules’ anger was amusing, but Jules’ anger itself, whether aimed at Grayson or Ellie or Laurie, never felt particularly interesting. Maybe it’s because it was a conflict from back when the show was still finding itself, or maybe Jules herself isn’t compelling enough for me to want to watch an episode where she works out her anger.

But then… then Busy Philipps cried. And that was a great moment, not only because she didn’t hold anything back, but because the relationship with Smith is something we do care about (as opposed to Jules’ ex-lover or even Grayson and Laurie’s one-nighter), and because the reason for the break-up felt honest and real. No stupid misunderstandings, no pressure from Barry Bostwick, not even anger over this plotline from early in the series – instead, Smith realizes his lack of anger means he’s never going to be as into Laurie as she’s into him. And that stinks, but it happens, and Laurie’s breakdown really worked where a lot of the episode’s earlier emotion didn’t.

So uneven episode overall, but killer finish.

What did everybody else think?

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