Watching Cougar Town last night, it occurred to me that the show owes as much to the “don’t forget to breathe/live in the moment” genre of Oprah episodes as it does to the ribald “git some!” comedy of Judd Apatow. That’s a pretty nifty trick, though when it comes to the latter influence, the shock of it is that the characters most obsessed with doing the horizontal mambo are middle-aged women — moms even! gasp! — instead of the particular brand of man-boy Apatow typically deals in. Yet even when the show is mining overly trodden comic territory (like Courteney Cox’s Jules rushing to get a bikini wax before making a date to have sex for the first time with her hot, younger boyfriend), the writing and delivery elevate the material to laugh-out-loud levels. Take Jules’ outraged reply to Laurie’s suggestion that she save time by hiring the same person to perform her bikini- and eyebrow-waxing: “One’s a gardener, the other’s an artist!” And, of course, we had scene-stealer Carolyn Hennesy (as Barb) offering that insane monologue to her own waxing artiste. “That, Carol, is total rejuvenation surgery. Up here I’m 48, but below the belt, I’m 19. Now let’s detail this Ferrari!” (Did that scene make you collapse into the fetal position or giggle uncontrollably?) I’d say that somehow, in all her feral-cat glory, Hennesy makes such disturbingly blue material work, just as she does in the scene below, in which she compares Cox’s boy toy to an omelet (sort of).
Beyond its larger themes of sex and the single post-twentysomething girl, the little details in last night’s episode made it imperative to put down the iPhone game of Scrabble and really pay attention. I howled at the multiple Silence of the Lambs references (Andy whispering “Hello, Clarice” before biting into his bagel; Laurie pointing out that Jules’ nails make her look like she was “trapped in a well”) and that bit about Ellie tapping the beat to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” on Andy’s backside during sex, and Andy later drumming the same rhythm on their toddler’s diaper area, and not understanding why. Bonus points for that moment where Jules pulls the tag off her negligee, only after getting her boyfriend’s thumbs-up, and of course, her depressed monologue about finding out she’s less than stellar in the sack: If guys stay with her now, she bemoaned, “it’s because they like me for me.” Waah waah waah.
What were your favorite moments last night on Cougar Town? Are you like me, waiting with baited breath for Barb’s occasional appearances? Share your thoughts on the message boards below!