As the seasons have progressed, Cougar Town has become more and more farcical with its tether to reality becoming more and more frayed. But this season, underneath all the farce, the comedy has had a rather sad undercurrent. The cul-de-sac crew isn’t necessarily a happy one. Travis has a still-unrequited love for Laurie. Bobby struggles to get his life together. And the gang drinks way too much—I believe in the mental health world it’s called “self-medicating.”
But usually the good times outweigh the bad. The balance shifted in “Restless,” which found Jules unable to sleep and Andy harassing Ellie for sex. The portrait of marriage the show has been painting this season is not an entirely happy one. Once again Grayson is stuck dealing with an increasingly irrational Jules. And when the gang finally peer pressures her into taking a sleeping pill for her insomnia, Grayson has sex with Jules while she is completely out of it. Then to make a bad joke even worse, the men secretly high-five each other over Grayson’s actions. What? Since when is the usually thoughtful and devoted Grayson a guy who would have his way with his unconscious wife?
As we’ve discussed before, Cougar Town has a penchant for pushing the comedic line to find the funny. Let me help the writers out—a husband having sex with his passed-out wife is not funny. Ever. The sweet ending that it was Grayson’s kiss that finally allowed Jules to sleep didn’t make up for the previous disturbing content.
Meanwhile much to Ellie’s dismay, Andy decides to cash in the sex coupons Ellie has given him every Valentine’s Day. That’s more sex than Ellie wants to have. Things get so bad that she hides out at Laurie’s house. It’s a recurrent theme that Ellie is not so nice to Andy. As Laurie says, “What do you give him other than his low self-esteem?” But again the idea that Andy would have sex with Ellie against her will is so not funny. Even if by the end of the episode, he realized how awful he was being and tore up the remaining coupons.
This episode, combined with the previous one about Andy doing thing to Ellie when she had taken an Ambien is unsettling. I know Cougar Town isn’t a message-based show, but the series is definitely making a statement about married sex. Is the show actually trying to say that you can do whatever you want to the woman you are married to because you are married?
Really the only storyline that worked for me in “Restless” was Bobby giving Grayson “The Jules Rules.” Not that I liked the idea of Jules being so difficult to deal with that we need a whole book about it or that she’s so gullible that she can be distracted by shoe talk. But once again Bobby puts other people’s happiness ahead of his own. This was the book he put together after his divorce from Jules in case he ever got a second chance with his ex-wife. It was a rather sweet storyline amid all the dark content.
Other thoughts on “Restless”:
• Funniest quote of the night came from Grayson: “If my face doesn’t heal up, I’m going to have to work on my personality.”
• Sad that once again Tom was relegated to being outside Jules’ house.
• Liked seeing the return of Travis’ green screen and nice to know he’s still trying to date while pining for Laurie.
• There was too little Laurie in this episode, and that’s a problem. Her character keeps things from getting too dark.
• Let’s play “Things that Ellie would never say”: “I liked this review.”