Cougar Town: It’s the little show that could. And now six seasons and more than 100 episodes later, we’ve reached the end of the road. It’s hard to believe that the Bill Lawrence/Kevin Biegel-created sitcom survived at all. From a stint in TV-scheduling limbo to an eventual network switch (CT jumped from ABC to TBS in 2013), not to mention that ill-fated name, it’s truly a wonder that it made it this far.
But maybe it’s not that odd after all. Anyone who actually followed the show for its six years [raises hand] knows it’s chock-full of heart, complete with some of the best running gags (PENNY CAN!). And then, of course, the cul-de-sac crew spends most of its time
pounding grape drinking wine. Not sure what more you could ask for. (Other than another glass of wine.) But all good things must come to an end, so grab your Big Joe/Carl/Lou/Kimo/Tippi/Chuck and let’s dive into the series finale, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” which was directed by Courteney Cox:
First thing’s first: They managed to get in one last title-card joke before closing shop. “Thank you for watching Sunshine State. Finally got the new title!!” Better late than never, I guess. Anyway, Jules’ birthday is just around the corner, and Grayson is convinced he’s going to give her the best celebration ever. Apparently, Jules has a tendency to ruin all of her birthdays because her expectations are way too high. There’s nothing quite like sabotaging your own happiness. Jules just really wants to go to her own funeral—because that’s totally normal and not-at-all morbid present request. She wants to hear what everyone has to say about her. (Did Ross teach you nothing, Monica?!)
The birthday shenanigans take a backseat to some major life changes shaking up the crew: Ellie and Andy are moving out of the cul-de-sac to get Stan into a better school. Tom has to stop hanging out by the window to spend more time with his girlfriend, Mary (Melanie Paxson). Chick is moving in with his cousin, Pooty, for a few weeks while he’s still in good health. And a rich investor wants to franchise the Winebulance (call 555-WINE-911 to get your fix). So Laurie, Travis, and baby Bobby are relocating to South Carolina. Essentially, this is shaping up to be Jules’ worst birthday ever, and the most depressing series finale I’ve ever seen. At least Bobby is there. Sort of. His appearance comes in the form of a video chat. Andy carries around Bobby’s floating head (a.k.a. Bobby on a Samsung tablet) for the duration of the episode.
Despite the fact everyone is “abandoning” Jules, they try to continue the party shenanigans. They go to a bar and play “trendy night club” penny can. And Grayson details the rest of the night: There are no actual presents, but Jules gets to drink and dance at the club and make any person dance with someone else in the style of her choosing. (Spoiler! She chooses herself and Travis to slow dance. Later she tells him, “You’re a nerd. Find a science-y way for me to live in your blood.) After that, they’ll go to a beach bonfire where they share their biggest personal problem while Jules tells them how to fix it. And then, they’ll go to a diner for 4 a.m. pancakes and toasts to Jules. But she shuts it all down, and breaks Big Chuck on purpose. The overwhelming weight of everyone leaving is just too much for her to handle.
Jules and Grayson reconvene in the cul-de-sac where she reflects on her worst birthday ever. It really is the saddest finale! I thought to myself, this seriously cannot end this way. And thankfully, it doesn’t! We see a montage of each member of the crew telling Jules the very best things about her and their friendship. (I promise I’m not crying…is a lie I just told right now.) Grayson lights up the cul-de-sac and everyone comes back to reveal the sweetest twist of all. There is no new school. No one’s investing in the Winebulance. There’s no cousin named Pooty. Bobby is still a floating head, but you can’t win ’em all. Oh, and Travis, Laurie, and baby Bobby are moving in to Grayson’s old house. The whole day was one big ploy so they could all tell Jules how they really feel about her. She gets her faux-funeral after all.
Honestly, I would be more upset about the switcheroo if it didn’t make me so damn happy. Jules finally gets the best birthday ever, and longtime fans get a pretty solid—if not slightly cheesy—satisfying ending to the little series that could. Now if only we could all spend the rest of our lives drinking wine around the kitchen island with the people we love (soundtracked by Charlotte Lawrence’s “Ever After,” naturally). I’d tip my imaginary hat to that.
What did you think of the finale? Will you miss the cul-de-sac crew? My answer? Of course, but maybe it’s time to let them go. The inhabitants of Jules’ Island look like they have a bright future ahead. I can’t say the same for Big Chuck, though. RIP, old guy.