At the heart of the show, the series became about some friends just hanging out and drinking wine. Unless you’re Seinfeld in the 90s, the show about nothing idea can’t always get you very far. So the name Cougar Town encompassed the pitch and the show eventually ventured far from the original concept (by episode three of season one). Jules Cobb, the main character wasn’t a woman hunting for young prey on the dating scene, she was just a lady looking to get her drink on with some awesome and quirky friends to boot.
Part of ABC’s Wednesday Night Line Up
With former Friend Courtney Cox as the face of a new sitcom, ABC did some extravagant PR, plastering Cougar Town everywhere. They gave it a prime time slot, following Modern Family and making it an integral part of the ABC Wednesday night line up. Even with the press, Cougar Town’s ratings were rocky, but to be fair, it was also a comedy finding it’s footing and getting into it’s own rhythm. The supporting cast: Christa Miller, Busy Philips, Briann VanHoldt, Ian Gomez and Josh Hopkins were the perfect ensemble to bring the “cul de sac crew” to life.
Even after creating the game of Penny Can, imposing giant wine glasses and naming them and creating one of the most lovable and self involved narcissist casts ever, it seemed that fans just weren’t tuning in to the would- be hit, despite it’s humor, charm and likability. The only question was why? It seemed to be the perfect fit for ABC; it’s similarly paced sitcoms: Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B were bringing in higher numbers. Perhaps the world just wasn’t ready for another version of “Friends?” or maybe it just wasn’t positioned correctly, or even was on the wrong network.
The Cougar Tour
In an effort to save their beloved sitcom, Bill Lawrence and Co. travelled around the country doing their own press events and parties for die hard fans of the show to attend. The get together boasted cast appearances, screenings, Question and Answer sessions as well as the greatest highlight: FREE WINE! After tirelessly wandering the nation, hoping to get fans to social network, tweet and spread the word to America, Cougar Town refused to let ABC bury it and in the first ever renegade PR tour for a television series, campaigned city by city to keep their show on the air and their cast and crew working. In the tradition of Scrubs, they even set up an on set cell phone that fans could call. You never know who would pick up at any given moment. You may get a brief convo with Courtney Cox or have a two-hour conversation with a staff writer, open to answering your questions or just BS with you for as long as you wanted.
I attended one of the events and the vibe was amazing. The crowd was a mix of people from all walks of life that shared one thing in common, a love for this off beat, quirky well written and performed sitcom and a joint sense of what we were all fighting to save. The crowd (mostly in their 20s and 30s) got incredibly drunk, enjoyed games of penny can, brought their own oversized glasses and the shows writers even stopped to hang out and chat. The cast obliged fans with photos and signed DVDs and I think somewhere between all of us was a solidarity, which emerged into a false sense of hope that we could fight a network intent on letting the series die a quiet death. The show had been shuffled around and eventually was placed on Tuesday night. With little information for viewers on the change of schedule, it seemed that Jules and the crew were flying under the radar. In other words they got the death slot. They had a run on Tuesday with 5.3 million viewers and a 1.9 rating (which is not good).
Actress and co-star, Busy Phillips, was quoted as saying, “They moved us around, they took us off the air for months.” True story! Not only did the show make an oddly unpublicized move, but it was pulled from the air for several weeks at a time, forcing viewers to think it was cancelled. ABC even launched the fall line up with no Cougar Town in sight. Ultimately they gave it a limited season 3 and basically took away any chance of survival. How can people watch a show when they have no idea when it airs? Christa Miller, who play’s Courtney Cox’s best friend Ellie on the show, is also the wife of it’s creator, Bill Lawrence. She wrote in the Huffington Post during the time of indecision, “It’s difficult, maybe even a little scary, to write about your dream job when you know it might go away at any second.”
Ultimately ABC opted to cancel the series and removed it from it’s current line up. Bill Lawrence assured fans via twitter that Cougar Town would return triumphantly. This season, the show was picked up by TBS and is slated to air in January. TBS ordered a 15-episode 4th season 4 of the show and now the question is, will the fans follow?
“Cougar Town is a smart, whimsical sitcom that draws its humor from likable, relatable characters” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. “We are thrilled to have Cougar Town moving to the TBS neighborhood as the network continues to expand its slate of original comedy series.”
Apparently, it’s rumored that TBS has also picked up the fifth season in advance, so it looks like they’re projecting a solid fan base and anticipate that ABC viewers will have no problem following C-Town wherever it may lead. Besides, most folks don’t even pay attention to the network logo at the bottom of the screen.
So, fortunately Cougar Town fans will get another dose of the Cul De Sac crew. We tweeted for it, we demanded it, we played Penny Can until we ran out of change and we got it. There is something about the faith that people have in this show that is like no other in history. They simply feel that they are a part of something bigger than ourselves. A story about a group of self- involved wine drinkers that make us laugh. If Cougar Town was to be a place, we would want to live there. So get out your bottles, order some giant glasses online, hoard your pennies and tune into the new network TBS this January. We need you in the hood.