Cougar Town Season 4, Episode 12 ‘This Old Town’
Directed by John Putch
Written by Melody Derloshon
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on TBS
Cougar Town‘s fourth season has simultaneously inched in two different directions: broader with its humor, and deeper with its emotional beats, focusing often on the three big M’s of adult life: marriage, maturity, and mortality. That season-long dichotomy is in full effect once again in ‘This Old Town’, a first half filled with jokes about being old, and a second half that takes the idea much more seriously.
At its core, ‘This Old Town’ is about the comfortable trappings of maturity – having a set schedule, taking things slowly, and being surrounded by predictable people. It’s overtly shown with Jules, Ellie and Grayson, who embrace the life of the elderly like it’s a job – Grayson even buys a cardigan to wear to the early-bird dinner special. Here’s where the broad humor comes in: everybody imitates the life they presume Amy and Norman (the couple who bought Grayson’s house) live, everybody on Cougar Town gets infatuated with the idea of getting old and comfortable.
This even happens with Bobby, who just wants to keep things casual with Riggs, mostly because he’s afraid of screwing things up with her. He’s like the other characters of the cul-de-sac crew: they’ve become so comfortable with who they are (for better or worse), they’re no longer trying to take chances or have experiences – which turns out to be the reason Amy and Norman bought the house in the first place. As Amy points out after having sex in Jules’s bedroom, the moment you become ok with your life and get boring, is the moment you stop enjoying it. Embracing change and new (and sometimes dangerous) experiences is important, whether you’re 22 or 72 – life is about evolution and renewal, and giving that up will one day be a huge regret. Oddly enough, Bobby’s arc exemplifies the values of the episode better than Jules and company – although it’s cheesy as hell, seeing him step up and not be afraid to take a chance with Riggs is great, if only to give Bobby a small victory.
The other two stories of the episode aren’t quite as satisfying – the second Rudy montage at the end was a laughably weak conclusion, and the Travis/Laurie material stuck out like a sore thumb. Right now, the show’s just biding it’s time to the season finale, so we get a totally out of character freak out for Laurie, who chooses to manifest her conflicted feelings in the most passive-aggressive, unattractive of ways when Travis leaves to go play Penny Can. Having Laurie show up at the party doesn’t just wrap up a pretty lifeless arc: it almost feels like a cop out, when framed against Amy’s lessons and Bobby’s experiences (despite the nice parallel of Andy pushing both Laurie and Bobby in the right direction).
There’s a little too many old people jokes in the two acts, and not enough satisfying conclusions in the third – but I really enjoyed the sentiments weaved through each of the arcs about how important it is to embrace opportunities in life. It’s not quite executed on the level Cougar Town’s capable of, but it’s an enjoyable episode in those moments where the episode’s themes are allowed to shine.
– I’ll miss the Jealous Much?, but I’m looking forward to some new memories on the Sea Story.
– I really despise the film Rudy, so the opening and closing scenes just don’t work for me.
– how many times will Andy’s plot be “he’s jealous of Bobby”?
– How did your surgery go, Tom? “Uh… he’s …. alive?”
– yes, if Maverick and Goose kissed, Top Gun might actually be an emotionally honest film.
– if you missed the news, TBS renewed Cougar Town for a fifth season in ‘early’ 2014. I can drink to that.
– I think the snake-chasing bits would’ve been funnier had Andy actually ordered them as mayor to clean up the town, then was forced to pick them up by himself after scaring everyone in the town. Having it be just another way for Bobby to fail at making money was kind of trite.