Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can Courteney Cox Redefine Cougars?

Going out on the prowl for guys on Thursday nights in their best leopard print outfits, drinking cosmos by the bucketful and leaving their teenage children at home with the barely-hidden liquor cabinet keys defines your typical Cougars.  Cougars are such a well known breed that now the term is applied to any group of 30 and 40-year-old women going out together.  It's an unfair moniker...

Courteney Cox, who makes me feel old even defining herself as a Cougar, tries to redefine this genre in her new show "Cougartown".  Sensitive, timid and awkward, Cox attempts to tell us that underneath it all, Cougars are just like you and me, and not the jealous, man-eating and aggressive women you and I see at the swanky bar at happy hour.  All this despite the fact that she figuratively "licks" a high school kid's chest while the boy' mother is within earshot, has a cleavage-baring real estate sign marketing her business and flashes teenagers on their bikes.  (Seriously, that never happened to me, not even remotely close to happening.)

9:30pm. My first assignment is to determine whether we'll see the annoying Cox (from "Friends;" admit it she smacked Chandler around to such an extent that I was actively rooting for him to leave her) or the interesting and smutty Cox (from the underrated "Dirt").  The first scene includes Cox looking in the mirror at the flab on her body - I can't help but think that the producers used a body double as Cox looks pretty toned in her flashing scene - this makes me believe that she will portray this character with subtlety.  Being only a half hour show; right now it's tough to make an exact determination of whether she'll be shrill or not.   However, I didn't hear any fingernails on the chalkboard in the background, so I am encouraged by that.

Despite my optimism, things begin to disintegrate quickly into standard formulas outside of Cox.  The show centers around Cox's character and the fact that after 5 months of being divorced, she's unwilling to have fun again.  Guess what? Her "fun" friend talks her into going out on the town, where her insecurities begin coming to the surface.  No worries though since she meets her boyfriend after spilling a drink on him.  The producers obviously want us to suspend disbelief though because the boyfriend stays at the bar despite the red drink spilled on him.  Not that I'm a fussy sort of fella, but I would have split - after she paid for my shirt, of course.  They immediately hit it off, so the formula dictates that the relationship goes into the dumpster, probably around episode 2.

Having even less fun is her son, Travis, who walks in on her Mom having sex with the said twenty three year old boyfriend, has to beat up the school bully with the aforementioned real estate sign and must eat dinner chips with, and acknowledge the existence of, his loser Dad.  Things are tough for the poor kid.  Besides the teenangster, the rest of the characters seem shallow stereotypes needed for a half an hour comedy.

Cox puts on a brave face so far.  However, the writing is thin and the characters need to be developed a lot faster than they have been so far.  No matter how you cut it. I don't see this one lasting more than one season.  I read that Scream 4 is in production, so don't fret for Courteney.  She'll be OK.  78 out of 100.

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