Credit: Mitch Haddad/ABC

Cougar Town hottie Josh Hopkins (at left), who plays the acerbic, neighborly foil to (and possible love interest for) Courteney Cox’s ravenous and perky 40-something singleton Jules on the hit ABC comedy, has a message for all you out there who won’t tune into his show simply because the word “cougar” has become pop-culture-ly synonymous with, well, icky things: “The show’s not really about cougars,” he explains, with bright passion about his comedy. “It’s about this dysfunctional family cul-de-sac.”

“People tell me that they can’t believe they didn’t want to like it because of the name, and now they love it,” Hopkins adds. “I think part of the point of naming it Cougar Town was to be polarizing. When it came out, nobody hadn’t heard about it. But, if it were called She’s Back at It! I don’t think if it would have mad such a splash.”

And, truly, the comedian couldn’t be more spot on about the heart of his show—just about five episodes in, it became clear that Cougar Town was less about the Cougar in its title and more about the Town and its wacky inhabitants. “It’s kind of like The Simpsons,” he says of the show’s stellar ensemble vibe that plays up smaller, quirky characters like Busy Phillips’ flighty Laurie and Ian Gomez’ self-deprecating Andy. “You keep discovering these little people in the town that will come in and out. They have their own little personalities.”

With all of Hopkins’ pushing of Cougar Town, he insisted on providing EW with three reasons those of you who haven’t yet tuned in should start doing so now. (And as a shameless plug, Cougar Town airs on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, with a new episode tonight!) Here goes:

1. Cougar Town isn’t a one-gag comedy. “It’s not Cavemen,” Hopkins says, referencing the buzzy-but-DOA comedy ABC tried to launch two seasons ago, based around a string of GEICO car insurance commercials featuring prehistoric beings. “The characters change and grow and there’s heart to it. People feel like cougars equate with cavemen, like it’s this one-trick pony, and it’s not.”

2. The ensemble is fantastic. Yes, yes, yes! “I do think they’ve assembled a great ensemble cast,” Hopkins says. “It’s growing in ways that I don’t think the creators knew it would grow. It caught that little magic thing. Your mind sort of makes stuff up for you. You see just enough where you sort of feel like you know how to get around Cougar Town.”

3. And saving the best for last: His famously bitchy character is headed toward true—but messy!—romance with Courteney Cox’s Jules. “The whole ‘Will they or won’t they?’ aspect of their relationship is starting to heat up,” Hopkins reveals, noting that the constantly bickering pair will reluctantly hang out on the show’s Valentine’s Day episode (airing Feb. 10). “There’s this clichéd expectation with such relationships, but the creators want to keep this tension, this attraction, and they want to do it in a more true-to-life way. In that regard, it’ll be realistic, so it’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.” Wait, how so? Like an awkward, slow build—or an “Oops, we hooked up last night!” type of thing? “Probably more of the latter,” Hopkins reveals with a laugh. (Which is just want fans of the show want—at least this fan does!)

As an addendum, I’ll say there are two more reasons to watch: The hilariously, truly cougar-y character of Barb, played geniously and sparingly by General Hospital‘s Caroyln Hennesy, for the mere thirty seconds she’s in each episode. And Hopkins, who I couldn’t find a shirtless photo of from Cougar Town for this post, takes his shirt off, revealing his oh-so-sexy chest, in nearly every episode. I melt every time I see it.

So, has Hopkins’ plea—and my glowing endorsement of this show—propelling you viewers to give Cougar Town a shot? Please say it’s so!

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Cougar Town
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