‘Cougar Town’ ‘Southern Accents’: All in the family

Senior Television Writer
05.01.12 21 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as I can prove forethought in a pig murder…

One of the most baffling things about the complaints that “Girls” lacked diversity, to my mind, wasn’t that it wasn’t an appropriate attack on that show (it does, after all, have an all-white ensemble while taking place in Brooklyn), but why this show, above the many, many other lily-white shows on TV, was the one being singled out. “Girls” might have a diversity problem, but so does practically all of television, and most of the time we just shrug it off.

“Cougar Town” is itself a fairly white show – Andy’s Cuban, but it comes up so rarely that, as we see here, his friends tend to laugh at the idea when it does – but like Bill Lawrence’s previous sitcoms (which had strong minority characters played by the likes of Donald Faison, Judy Reyes and Michael Boatman), it can at least deal both thoughtfully and amusingly with race from time to time, as it does here with Laurie’s racism intervention for Bobby. It’s almost a meta joke that, in addition to Andy, she has to bring in Travis’ roommate Sig(*) and her Twitter boyfriend Wade (who does appear to actually be in the military) via Skype as non-white people she knows who can help educate Bobby and make him feel better about his fondness for racial stereotypes. For that matter, Laurie’s final line about how “”All you need to fix race problems is a really pretty white woman” was an amusing commentary in general about how Hollywood – including this show – almost always deals with race through the eyes of a white character.

(*) And after Kevin returned an episode or two ago, he was once again MIA, despite being ideal for this scene from both a racial and deadpan comedy standpoint. I miss you, Tinker from “Friday Night Lights”!

Laurie’s seminar was both the smartest and funniest of this week’s plots, but Jules’ struggle to accept Holly as a part of her life also featured a number of strong gags, from Jules horrifying Travis with her detailed questions about their make-out session to Travis and Grayson in turn horrifying her by trading notes on same to the simple idea of the Hillbilly Hall of Fame. And that story, of course, gave us both the #pigtrials hashtag and the hilarious tag – much of it improvised, with the writers throwing ideas at Courteney Cox, Josh Hopkins and Christa Miller as it was being filmed. Every now and then, I’m okay with sitcom actors breaking the reality of the show because an isolated gag (particularly in an isolated segment like the end tag) was so funny. This was one of those times.

Andy’s campaign for mayor – and Ellie’s predictable resistance to the idea and equally predictable realization that she has to support her doofus husband – was the most familiar, and least engaging, of the three stories. But Ellie’s list of unreasonable demands was good, and I’m amused by the idea that Barry Bostwick is once again playing the mayor on a Bill Lawrence show. (And is married to Barb, too.)

What did everybody else think?

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