The third season of Cougar Town premieres tonight and this is officially a plea for you to watch it. Ignore the title. Give it a chance. Just trust me on this one, okay? Every person that I know who watches this show had originally avoided it solely because of the title and the fact that no one really wants to watch a bunch of middle-aged women bang younger guys. But it’s not that show. The cougars went extinct very, very early in the first season. Now it’s about a bunch of friends who hang out, drink impressive amounts of wine, and have fun. It’s about starting over and valuing your friendships and knowing that being an adult doesn’t always have to mean, well, being an adult. Remember the early episodes of How I Met Your Mother and how it made you and your friends decide that you want to be those characters when you grow up? You wanted to hang out in a bar in New York City and drink beer and pull pranks on each other? That’s how Cougar Town feels — except warmer.
There’s so much to love about Cougar Town. The writing is fantastic. There are hilarious running gags (the Penny Can game and the silly songs are two of my favorites) that have yet to get old. Busy Phillips absolutely kills in her role. These aren’t women who are crying about how they need a man, these are women who are owning the walk of shame and wearing it like a badge of honor. The dialogue is quick and witty. There are movie parodies, a giant dog who delivers beer, and a demon child. Bill Lawrence, as he’s already proved on Scrubs, is arguably the best writer when it comes to balancing comedy and drama. There are scenes of broad hilarity followed by scenes that will quietly hurt your heart. It’s a show that, at the end of the day, is simply about the characters and their relationships with each other and therefore our relationships with them.
But the thing is most people have already made up their mind on whether or not they’re going to watch the show based solely on the title and assumed premise. So here’s something: give it a chance solely to support television and good people. In the last few weeks, Bill Lawrence, the crew, and the cast have been crossing the country and throwing parties to support the show. They talked to the fans on the internet, they gave out free t-shirts and penny cans and bottles of wine (!), they footed the bill for open bars, they stuck around after the screenings to autograph giant wine glasses, discuss their favorite gags, and simply shoot the shit with anyone who wanted to talk. TV Hangover went to three of these screenings — two in New York City and one in Boston — and it was this new and amazing form of guerilla marketing that we’d never seen before. They went past the simple hashtag “save this show” and went to “hey, grab a friend, come watch some episodes, and get wrecked on wine on our dime. Talk to us and let us know what you like or don’t like.”
It’s something that I really want to see more of. Not just because wine is my lifeblood or because I want to be a television writer so it’s comforting to see a show that I love work hard to stay on the air, but because it’s such a beautiful thing to see people care so much about their job and who believe so much in their work that they’re willing to go above and beyond to promote it. And it’s not just their show; at both of the screenings I attended, Bill Lawrence mentioned Community and how much they all love it. He talked about how cross-pollination should be a big part of the future of television. Don’t just promote your show, but promote the shows you love! It’s a trait I hope most showrunners pick up, especially when their respective networks aren’t exactly doing the promoting themselves. And it works! I, along with plenty of other people I talked to, watched Cougar Town because of the crossover episode with Abed from Community and ended up sticking around. It’s a nice brotherhood that you don’t see much on television.
So hey, give Cougar Town a shot tonight even if it’s just in support of good television, and people who care about good television, and people who support the good television that you love. Give them a shot because they’re working so hard to stay on air just to make you laugh. Give them a shot because they’re trying which is so much more than you can say about so many shows that are floating around existing. Give them a shot because it’s actually a funny show.
Or, you know, just give them a chance because there’s nothing else to watch on television and it’s only a half hour out of your life. Grab a bottle of red wine, take a drink whenever the characters do, and soon you’ll be drunk and happy which is really all you need to be on Valentine’s Day.