You’d be forgiven if you skipped out on Cougar Town last season, unimpressed by the idea of a sitcom based on the derogatory concept of older women preying on younger men. How were you to know the show would shed that trendy premise almost entirely and instead focus on the hilariously dysfunctional relationship between overbearing, moderately alcoholic Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox) and her lovable coterie of neurotic friends and family? This season, the only males under 40 in sight are Jules’s teenage son Travis (Dan Byrd), who leaves for college (twice) in the second episode of the season, and Stan, the rarely seen infant son of neighbors Ellie (Christa Miller) and Andy (Ian Gomez), who gets a great It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-grade storyline in the same episode.
Almost all of the flaws of the first season are gone. The writers have decided to give Grayson (Josh Hopkins) a personality—and a talent for funny songwriting not seen since Phoebe Buffay. The borderline-shrill Jules has been dialed down to charmingly high-strung. The only trace of the old show is Barbara, the only real “cougar” left in Cougar Town whose lecherous presence is relegated to a cameo every few episodes.
Finally, we have a show with all the memorable wit of Bill Lawrence’s previous series, Scrubs, minus the inner monologues. In the season premiere alone, which features a great one-off by Jennifer Aniston as Jules’s off-kilter therapist, we get a pop-culture word game that any film nerd will find irresistible, Grayson in a tree, and both Andy and Jules’s ex Bobby (Brian Van Holt) sans shirts. Together. In a bar.