Make no mistake about it, Cougar Town has very low stakes. That’s in fact kind of the point, and the show very wisely moved from being a dumb dating sitcom to a group-dynamic sitcom early on partially to avoid this sort of thing. Still, the show needs to move forward in some manner, so there needs to be occasional bursts of drama, if only so that Cougar Town can quickly diffuse them and bring us back to its usual lackadaisical self.
That’s the case with Matthew Perry’s appearance in “Like a Diamond,” which in most shows would have been a much bigger thing but in Cougar Town ended up with not even a multi-episode arc. We know Jules wouldn’t cheat on Grayson, not simply because of who she is but also because of what the show is. Within this world, that sort of melodrama doesn’t exist anymore. Of course Jules is flattered by Sam’s, well, flattery, but one of my favorite moments in the episode came when she told Grayson about how she’d gone on a date with him to avoid paying for a car crash without insurance. His response? “Good job!” It might not be the most realistic thing in the world, but it also avoids the sort of tedium we’d see in so many shows.
Again, this means there’s no tension in “Like a Diamond,” but that doesn’t mean the journey to Jules’ reaffirmation of her love to Grayson wasn’t entertaining. The flash-mob was fun, as was the arrival of his family. Best of all, though, was the way Grayson prevented Jules, at the last minute, from embarrassing herself horribly in front of a gang of people. That, we’re told, is what love is, taking the hatred of that room and re-directing it even when you’re not the person at fault. I was moved by this and impressed by the nimble way it kept Cougar Town from going into the realm of cringe comedy, which is more or less the opposite of what it does.
All three of the stories this week were about trust, and I actually had just as much fun watching Ellie try to prove that at least one of Laurie’s ridiculous stories was a lie. What was great about this is that as a whole it had the opposite effect, telling us that while Laurie’s bad with the details, in general her stories about half-robot men and South American drug deals are true. We also got to check out her doppelganger, though I’ll admit her appearance was a little bit anti-climactic.
In the smallest story, we had Travis trying to explain to Bobby that no, it’s not really going to snow in Florida. But of course Bobby knows this; he just wants to have something to believe in, which is usually the case with him. He’s so happy that it can be easy to forget how much he needs to have something to keep him going so that as not to be completely crushed by his situation—after all, he’s a destitute man who lives in a boat. The conclusion, with Andy renting a snow machine, might have been predictable, but it still felt right. These stories were about reaffirming trust, and while Bobby does need someone to knock him down a bit when he’s getting arrogant, it’s better off if everyone learns their friends are there for them, even when it comes to the stupid stuff. It might not be the most truthful episode, as a whole, nor the most truthful show for that matter, but that’s not important. Cougar Town is enjoyable exactly because of its faith in its characters and its reaffirmations of trust; plus, it’s always ready to offer us snow, whatever the weather man might be saying.