Review: ‘Cougar Town’ – ‘Between Two Worlds’

Senior Television Writer
01.22.13 11 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as specialists weigh in on my STD results…

Kevin Biegel, who co-created this fine show that we for some reason call “Cougar Town,” stepped down as a hands-on showrunner after last season. But he’s still involved, and wrote the script for “Between Two Worlds,” the funniest season 4 outing to date thanks to the short and memorable life of the man who called himself Ron Mexico.

For those of you who don’t know, in the real world, Ron Mexico was a former alias of Michael Vick’s, as part of a very messy story involving herpes (hence my choice of intro line over many other excellent possibilities). Though the story behind it was sordid, the name itself is outstanding, and it was nice to have it associated with a much better – if in some ways just as seedy – story, in which Bobby’s life vastly improved once he took on the new moniker. Who wouldn’t want to party with Ron Mexico, after all? Biegel also used the story to try to establish some separation between the gang’s voluminous wine consumption and the very real problem of alcoholism. Having Bobby declare, sadly, that he is not Ron Mexico, nor is he an alcoholic, was an amusing riff on a familiar line, and probably the only way “Cougar Town” can really deal with the subject. There’s definitely a black, black comedy to be made about a group of friends who enable each others’ alcoholism, but this is too sweet and optimistic and silly a show for that.

After all, Ron Mexico sounds almost like a superhero name, and the rest of the episode deals with the Cul-de-Sac-Crew (itself something of a superteam name) identifying the superpowers of its individual members.(*) Jules can solve any problem via sex, Ellie can start a fight between any two people, and Grayson can impersonate anyone. (Or, rather, Josh Hopkins can impersonate all the guys in the cast, and very impressively.) The Travis/Laurie story is at once about her attempt to prove he has a power and about her anxiety about Wade, and when Grayson boasts about how his front muscles are The Truth, and the back ones are Justice, he’s two-thirds of the way towards being a very cheesey Captain American knock-off. (And one who could almost certainly write his own theme song, based on the fantastic Ron Mexico country song from the tag scene.)

(*) I watched this episode and tonight’s “Justified” weeks apart, only to realize the weird common theme while writing reviews today. Or maybe I’m just itching to crack open my comic book collection. One or the other. 

I would say last week’s episode did a better job of balancing the emotional and the comic, but “Between Two Worlds” made me laugh, it made me smile, and it made me want to call myself Ron Mexico. Mission accomplished.

What did everybody else think?

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