"Cougar Town's" unexpected transition to TBS from ABC is nothing short of a TV miracle in today's competitive primetime landscape, and the cast and executive producers seem well aware that they won the lottery with the comedy's fourth season renewal.
"You guys want to talk about ABC for a second? ... I don't know if you guys have seen them ... there are commercials for the show now!" creator Bill Lawrence joked at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Friday morning. "People are always looking at us to take potshots at ABC ... But they’re still the owners and producers of the show, and I think they’re doing a great job."
It seems obvious to outside observers (and those involved in creating the show) that ABC never really embraced the quirky series, but despite a few veiled jabs at the alphabet network, the panelists were focused on the future of the comedy.
"We know that this show is funny, we like what we’re doing, and now somebody wants to embrace it and get the word out. It was refreshing," said "Cougar Town" star Busy Philipps. "I feel like we’re allowed to do edgier stuff now."
"It feels like a brand new show, I feel like it just started," Courteney Cox agreed.
The show's title has been a bone of contention throughout its run, but Turner president Michael Wright insisted that they only considered changing it for about five seconds. "We’re buying 'Cougar Town' and the truth is, [the title] is part of the humor," he said.
"We wear it as a badge of honor, but I still enjoy mocking it and doing the title cards," Lawrence agreed. "Being filled with self-loathing is a characteristic of 90 percent of comedy writers in the world anyway. It’s part of the game for us now. It’s an amazing title, I’d do it again!"
According to producers, the show will always be focused on the core friendships between the characters, but the first few episodes of Season 4 will center around Jules (Cox) and Grayson's (Josh Hopkins) new marriage. Lawrence told reporters he wasn't too concerned about the so-called "Moonlighting" curse when deciding to get the pair together.
"I don’t believe in TV curses -- cut to: canceled, one episode," he laughed. "It’s a burden doing will they/won’t they stories when so many other shows have done it so well. [The show is about] adult friendship and what it means to while away your 40s with your friends, just hanging out."
"Cougar Town" fans needn't worry about tonal or creative shifts with the move to TBS, either. "I want them to notice no difference," Lawrence promised, sharing his hope that in future rewatches, viewers won't be able to tell between an episode from the third season and one from the fourth.
One thing the producers can promise is more nudity: Not only will Jules and Grayson share a "naked day" to keep things spicy, Cox has apparently declared this season "the year of [her] cleavage."
"You will not see one scene in which I don't show my boobs," Cox promised.
"Cougar Town" Season 4 premieres Tues., Jan 8 at 10 p.m. EST on TBS.
Will you watch the return of "Cougar Town"?