Cougar Town Ep 4.13 ‘The Criminal Kind’ is a flat Breakfast Club homage

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cougar town s4 ep13

Cougar Town Season 4, Episode 13 ‘The Criminal Kind’
Directed by Randall Winston
Written by Sean Lavery
Airs Tuesday nights at 10pm ET on TBS

 

In theory, The Breakfast Club would be a wonderful homage on a television show, especially a comedy, where the idea of family is imprinted in the genre’s DNA. At its heart, The Breakfast Club is about disgruntled teenage stereotypes uniting to rebel against said stereotypes, providing them with important moments of realization and self-recognition. But in practice (at least in the way Cougar Town employed it), it just feels empty, relying on the easy ‘wink,wink’ homage moments and joke-filled voice overs that are neither revealing nor humorous in any way.

‘The Criminal Kind’ just didn’t have compelling material for its main characters, and the Breakfast Club homages feel more like a necessary distraction than an creative use of meta-fiction. Of course, the show goes through the obligatory symbols: the voice overs in particular, and other little touches like Bobby sitting in the background eating a pudding cup, the grocery store manager who fills the role of principal, and of course, the dance scene recreated in the closing credit sequence. But there isn’t anything connecting the allusions to the film to the characters, who are acting out a plot for seemingly no reason except to play out this homage on the most surface of ways.

The most important aspect of the episode – Laurie’s decision to confront Travis with her feelings – comes out of nowhere in the end, surfacing after Jules convinces herself to wrap things up like they did in the film (which, by the way: since when does Jules remember anything about a movie?). Jules stealing a pen in a grocery store is supposed to represent her trying to recreate common experiences we have as teenagers, because she missed the chance while she was having a kid, getting married, getting divorced, and getting married again. This ignites something in Laurie, who has the very odd revelation that she needs to take the chance she’s given at Travis because it may never come again (while conveniently, Travis no longer wants to sleep around, because he’s becoming impotent… which by the way, would never, ever happen).

It feels tacked on, putting Laurie and Travis together at the last moment to create some dramatic intrigue heading into next week’s two part finale. It’s disappointing – there could’ve been some promise in the episode had they taken the opportunity to explore characters a little deeper beyond “Ellie likes to screw with people” and “Grayson is a reluctant dick to everyone”, which is Cougar Town at its broadest, crudest – and most importantly, unfunniest. Unfortunately, ‘The Criminal Kind’ suffers from the same problem Andy and Travis are in the episode (which was wholly contrived, and quickly abandoned): it’s all just feels limp.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

– Bobby shot somebody once.

– I continue to enjoy the increased presence of Tom.

– Jules’s first Schneider turns out to be a pretty weak one: she steals a pen from the grocery store manager.

– I love “air tight Bobby Cobb logic.”

– I have the exact same beach towel Bobby has on The Sea Story: there are margaritas spread about on the other side.

– only in Laurie’s mind would there be multiple sexual third bases to reach.

– two-part season finale next week!

 

— Randy

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