Cougar Town Review: "Don't Fade On Me"/"Have Love Will Travel" (Episode 4.14/15)
Despite what some of the stars’ plastic surgery would lead you to believe, at its heart, Cougar Town is a comedy about middle-aged people with middle-aged problems. Never has that been clearer than in the one-hour season finale.
Jules is worried about her dad Chick (returning guest star Ken Jenkins) who confesses that it’s been five years since he’s been to a doctor. The problem is Chick was actually just at the doctor’s last month. He had completely forgotten and is diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease (or “Old Timer’s disease,” as Jules calls it). I loved this story line because it is so relatable—many people are in that stage where the dynamics change and it is no longer the parent who worries about the child, but the child who worries about the parent. It was beautiful and poignant. Like Chick says, he really does know how to land a moment. And it was real. So often on Cougar Town, the show goes over the top to find the funny. And it often does find the funny (witness Grayson’s desire to be an actor). But it’s nice to have these quiet human moments which ground the show and make me love Cougar Town all the more. And seriously who wasn’t teary when Chick danced with Tippi Hedren?
And there was so much more to love “Don’t Fade on Me” and “Have Love Will Travel.” Travis and Laurie are trying to go from being friends to being, as Laurie so aptly put it, “ee, ee, slappity, slappity, honk honk friends.” It’s not an easy transition, and their first kiss keeps getting interrupted (my favorite being when Tom excitedly announced he had met Bud from Married with Children). Putting these two characters together at the start of the show would have seemed ludicrous, but the show has earned this relationship and played it perfectly and sweetly.
My biggest complaint about the finale is that Cougar Town never really completed what they started with Bobby this season. He wanted to be a better man, but he ends the season pretty much how he began it—living on a boat, with no car and no real job. (Although I did love his irrational anger towards The Wire).
Thankfully TBS has already picked up Cougar Town for another season. So we will have lots more quality time with the cul-de-sac crew and opportunities to explore Bobby’s personal growth and Travis and Laurie’s burgeoning relationship. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Other thoughts on the season finale:
• The recurring joke of Jules and Ellie redefining phrases (“sleep like a baby,” “fat chance”) will never get old for me. Change approved!
• There was a lot of product placement in this episode—autotrader.com, Werther’s candy—but none as egregious as the Target episode earlier this season so I’m willing to roll with it.
• “Wine glass funeral, it’s only weird the first time you see it.” So true Grayson, so true. Love the show returning to this way to end a season. We’ll miss you Big Lou. Hello Big Tippy.
• It used to bother me that Ellie and Andy basically forget they have a child. Now I kind of embrace it.