Feature

Can Cougar Town overcome its terrible name?

Critics are raving about the hilarious return of the Courteney Cox sitcom. But prospective fans may not be able to get over the show's cringe-inducing title

After numerous delays and schedule changes, the third season of the Courteney Cox-led sitcom Cougar Town finally premieres Tuesday night on ABC. (Watch a spoiler-heavy trailer below.) During the episode's opening credits, the show's cheeky title card pops up: "Yes, it's still called Cougar Town. We're not happy about it either." Of course, producers know quite well that the series' name turns off viewers who would otherwise enjoy Cougar Town's quirky humor. The series has long outgrown its original Cox-dating-younger-men premise, and has evolved into a slice-of-life comedy about an endearing group of friends and neighbors who enjoy drinking wine. Cougar Town's cast and creators have been on a massive promotional campaign to convince TV watchers to tune in to the show despite its off-putting name. Critics agree that the "goofy-sweet-smart" comedy deserves to be a hit. Will it be?

The show is certainly good enough: Cougar Town boils down to this, says Alan Sepinwall at HitFix: "Good show, bad title." Over the course of its first two seasons, the sitcom blossomed into "an incredibly goofy, incredibly charming comedy" — and no longer has anything to do "with its horrible, horrible title." The show's sense of humor is idiosyncratic and sure. Too bad the title implies that it's all "about Courteney Cox having sex with younger guys."
"Good show, bad title: Cougar Town returns for season 3"

Besides, it really has nothing to do with cougars: Forget TV's tired "will they or won't they" scenarios, says Maureen Ryan at The Huffington Post. Cougar Town thrives on the 'we definitely are' scenario." In the upcoming season, Cox's character gets engaged to her boyfriend, and they'll make an episodes-long trek toward a wedding. The show is about how mature couples "deal with imperfections and problems" in their relationships — all with the help of some of the sharpest, most clever writing on TV.
"Cougar Town returns with its wine-drinking wit intact"

Cougar Town is set up for failure: It may be ABC's scheduling — not the show's name — that kills Cougar Town, says Hollywood Chicago. ABC has "a wealth of quality comedy," with Modern Family, Happy Endings, Suburgatory, and The Middle on Wednesdays, when Cougar Town used to air. Cox and Co. have been shifted to Tuesdays behind the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing. The pairing couldn't be more off; there's nearly no overlap in demographics or tone between the two comedies. Also not wise: Premiering season three on Valentine's Day, when many members of the show's young, female-heavy audience will be out on dates.
"TV Review: ABC's Cougar Town finally returns with strong premiere"

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