Season 5 of Cougar Town – the show’s second on TBS, after a three-year run on ABC – picks up tonight with the biggest game-changer introduced on the show near the end of last season: After years of adoring her from afar, college-age Travis (Dan Byrd) finally has embarked on an affair with his dream girl, Laurie (Busy Philipps).
Laurie, of course, is a somewhat older woman and among the closest friends of Jules (Courteney Cox), Travis’ eager-to-please mom, who is having a hard time with the new couple’s increasingly torrid public displays of affection. And after a fateful day when Jules stumbles (literally) upon them having sex in Jules’ shower, well – we’re talking about a situation not even Big Tippi, the large hotel-room vase that Jules has converted into her latest wineglass of choice, can help with.
Not that she doesn’t try to be supportive of the affair. It turns out, however, that Travis isn’t entirely comfortable hearing his mother compliment him on being an attentive lover.
Elsewhere in tonight’s premiere, Jules’ ex-husband, Bobby (Brian Van Holt), receives an unexpected windfall from an even more unexpected source, but fails to pick up on increasingly heavy hints from Grayson (Josh Hopkins), Jules’ current spouse, that Bobby should use some of that money to pay off his multi-volume bar bill. Meanwhile, neighbor couple Andy and Ellie (Ian Gomez, Christa Miller) are enduring some sleepless nights since Andy made the mistake of letting their young son, Stan (Griffin Kunitz), watch A Nightmare on Elm Street.
A show that is saddled with a misleading title so terrible that it has become a running joke in the opening credits of each episode, Cougar Town quickly morphed from its ill-defined initial concept (a 40-ish woman re-enters the contemporary dating pool) into a sharp, often nastily funny character-driven sitcom that’s mostly about a bunch of friends and neighbors in Florida sitting around and drinking wine. Lots and lots of wine. Luckily, the jokes consistently stay on point, deftly delivered by this strong ensemble.
Cougar Town frequently makes references that harken back to previous episodes and situations on the series, so longtime fans of the show, obviously, are most likely to get all the jokes. The central relationships between the characters are all so sharply defined, however, that newcomers to the sitcom’s setting – the tourist mecca of Gulfhaven, Fla. – will feel perfectly at home in no time.
Just make sure to stay on Ellie’s good side. Because she will cut you.