Comedies often have to push boundaries to get to the funny. And sometimes you don’t even know where the line is until you’ve crossed it.
Cougar Town crossed the line in “I Need to Know.” The comedy often excels in finding the truth of relationships underneath all the outrageous farce. And the show has always had a lot of fun with how much Jules loves Travis and how co-dependent they are. I mean, who brings a girl to family night on a first date?
Now that he’s 21, Jules feels Travis pulling away from her. She tells him he doesn’t have to participate in mandatory family night anymore and he can decide when he wants to see her. Jules tells Travis she wants to be “friends with benefits” and then realizes she’s not using the term right. That is funny. The show should have stopped there.
But when Jules relays their conversation, Ellie says “I’m so proud of you for not sleeping with him.” And Jules responds “Honest to God, it could have gone either way.” That right there is the line. I’m all for Jules obsessing over her son, and many of the lines were hilarious. (Grayson to Jules: “You raised him to be dependent and helpless.” Jules: “Thank you.”). But it’s hard to make a joke about incest funny. And Cougar Town didn’t succeed.
The episode ended with a great conversation between mother and son. “Eventually if you’ve done your job right the child doesn’t need you anymore. And it makes me so happy,” Jules tells Travis tearfully. It was a touching moment that really hit on a truth of parenting. Every parent knows that it is bittersweet to watch your child grow up. It’s too bad the whole storyline was undercut with a cheap joke.
While Jules is obsessing about Travis, Ellie realizes she can train Andy to do her bidding by watching how Bobby trains Dog Travis. Ellie then feels bad about the way she’s treated her husband, which confuses Andy. I like whenever the show reminds us that Ellie really does love Andy and vice versa. Plus I do love the recurring joke that we never see Andy and Ellie’s son Stan. “Leave him be. It’s not that hard. I haven’t seen my kid since bath time yesterday,” Ellie tells Jules.
But it was really Laurie who stole the episode by giving Grayson a hard time for being slightly homophobic. She had some great lines, “Zooey Descha-hell-no” and “Rejection, I don’t know it personally because I have big boobs but I’ve heard about it” being my favorites.
“I Need to Know,” which was directed by Courteney Cox, wasn’t my favorite Cougar Town episode but I’m such a fan of spending time with the cul-de-sac crew that I know a mediocre episode of Cougar Town is better than no episode at all.
Other random thoughts:
• I would love to play the game “Things that annoy Ellie.”
• Although it wasn’t at the forefront this episode, Travis’ feelings for Laurie still linger. He’s taken to calling the girl he’s dating “Not Laurie.”
• More than ever, this season seems to be coming up with great lines that can be worked into your everyday conversation. I so want to state “fact” after everything I say and will it to be true.