A show about semi-dysfunctional, forty-something, Florida divorcees who drink during daytime became a surprise hit almost immediately after it debuted in September 2009, but it never quite seemed to get the push its cast and creators felt they deserved from ABC. Last year TBS bought the show and, to the apparent joy and relief of all involved, and especially the fans, is bringing Cougar Town back for at least 15 episodes starting in January.
Who are the real Cougars?
Created by Kevin Biegel and Bill Lawrence (who also served as one of the executive producers along with Cox and her husband David Arquette when it was on ABC), Cougar Town is not named for the slang term for the predatory group of older women who go after young guys. As true fans of the show know, the Cougars is the nickname for the high school sports teams in the fictional community of Gulfhaven, Florida where the show is set. Of course that doesn't mean that some of the show's characters can't act a little cougarish in ways that have nothing to do with high school ball.
Penny Can Game
Cougar Town has many sports, among the most popular being the game of Penny Can. It was invented by Bobby (Brian Van Holt), the former spouse of the lead character, Jules (Courteney Cox). It is, of course, a drinking game, centered around the tossing of pennies into empty paint cans. There are eight basic rules involving the scoring of points and penalties for missing, as well as at least two variations - one of which involves being required to answer a question truthfully if the player misses.
Hanging at Grayson’s Pub
Grayson's Pub, run by Grayson Ellis (Josh Hopkins), is the preferred watering hole for the Cougar Town crowd. Grayson himself, like so many others on the show, is divorced and is the male equivalent of a cougar - as he hunts for much younger partners. Much to the surprise of viewers -and to both Grayson and Jules- he winds up in bed with the series lead, falls in love with her and at the end of the third season proposed to Courteney's character.
Big Wine Glasses
Wine plays such a big part in Cougar Town that it deserves a spot in the credits. Jules and her girlfriends Ellie and Laurie (played by Busy Philipps and Christa Miller) rarely go through a scene let alone a show without a drink, with Jules in particular often guzzling from "Big Joe," a glass specially designed for the show that is so big it can hold a full bottle of wine (preferably red). Jules found the 32-ounce capacity glass in a store where it was filled with $80 in pennies.
Jules and Ellie Fake Chop-Running Like Tom Cruise
The constant drinking may explain why Jules and Ellie at times do the Tom Cruise karate chop run. As Jules explains, everyone runs all the time in the movies, and Tom runs especially fast because he karate chops as he moves. Ellie admits that it at least "feels faster" when they run like that. When challenged that she will "never make it" to an event in time, Jules responds that of course she can - with a "Tom Cruise run" that, of course, involves constant chopping motions with the arms and hands.
Weird Tom Peeking Through Kitchen Window
Jules has a widowed neighbor, Tom (Bob Clendenin), who desperately wants to be part of her inner circle of friends. His character began as something of a weird peeping tom (no pun) but the writers have allowed him to grow - including letting the other characters come to know that he is a neurosurgeon with two grown children, one of them a law student and the other a U.S. Marine.
Andy and Bobby’s Bromance
Love and sex abounds on Cougar Town, but there are other relationships as well. One of the best is the unique "bromance" between Andy (Ian Gomez) and Bobby. As Jules' neighbor and husband to her best friend Ellie, Andy also became best pals with Jules' husband Bobby, and maintained that relationship even after Bobby and Jules broke up. Andy may be a successful investment advisor but that has never stopped him from paling around with Bobby who although technically is a semi-pro golfer, makes his living by mowing the grass at the high school (while giving golf lessons on the side).
Travis’ Weird Helmet
Dan Byrd as Travis Cobb is as quirky a character as Tom, although of a much younger generation. As Jules' high school-age son, he plays the embarrassed teenager quite well, especially after a silly skateboarding accident requires he wear a protective helmet after fracturing his skull. Other cast members especially Jules don helmets in some scenes to make him feel better, but this arc also comes with a safety message: don't go "dog-boarding" without a helmet.
Lawrence and Biegel Now "Consultants"
Bill Lawrence is no longer an executive producer or "showrunner" but he and co-creator Kevin Biegel are still around as "executive consultants," thus assuring some continuity with the original as the series moves to TBS.