Whenever I meet someone new, the second question I ask (after "What's your name?" and before "Are you going to finish those fries?") is usually, "Do you watch Cougar Town?" And you would be surprised how few people say yes. It is really hard to find other fans of the most incongruously named show on television.
Thankfully, Cougar Town is finally returning from its agonizingly long hiatus, premiering its third season on February 14th. (Best Valentine's Day gift EVER.) In an effort to spread the gospel of Cougar Town to you non-believers, I've compiled a list of some compelling reasons why you should watch this fabulous show.
1. It's cougar free since 2009. Seriously. There are legitimately no cougars on this show. (Except for Barb, who appears once every five episodes or so, makes an inappropriate comment, and then crawls back into her den.) I've said it before and I'll say it again: this show is not about Courteney Cox dating younger men. In fact, her character currently has a serious boyfriend who is in his forties, plays the guitar, and is awesome (despite having abnormally tiny eyes).
2. Abed likes it. If you're a fan of Community (my other favorite comedy that no one watches), then I'm sure you've heard Abed talk about his love for Cougar Town. He even made a cameo in an episode of the ABC comedy. And if Abed likes it, you know it's cool. Cool cool cool. You may have even seen some of the cast of Cougar Town when they appeared in the season two finale of Community. Don't you want to be a part of all these hilarious cross-references between the two most underrated comedies on television? You can see all the crossover moments between the two shows in this video. (Abed on Cougar Town is around the 5:07 mark.)
3. It's like How I Met Your Mother, but sunnier. Okay, so maybe you don't watch Community, but if you like HIMYM, Cougar Town has more similarities to it than you might think. There's a middle-aged idealist looking for love (Jules = Ted); an adorable married couple (Andy and Ellie = Marshall and Lily); a former player (Grayson = Barney) who falls for his enigmatic female friend; the out-of-towner who adopts this group as her new family (Laurie = Robin); and they all just get together and drink a lot.
4. They invented Penny Can. Yes, you heard me. This show is so great, they actually invented their own game. Penny Can is a game of skill and strategy in which one attempts to throw pennies into a can with increasingly complicated maneuvers (i.e. ricochet, behind-the-back, moving-target Penny Can). The rules are actually very complicated, but I encourage you to watch this video on the origin of Penny Can and then start your own league in your neighborhood.
5. The had a funeral for a wine glass. Big Joe wasn't just a wine glass; he was a legend. He was a friend to lean on (and drink out of) in times of turmoil, or times of celebration. We'll never forget you, Big Joe. May you rest in peace. (Watch the Big Joe memorial video here.)
6. You'll wish these people were your neighbors. All they do is drink wine, play Penny Can, and make fun of each other's neuroses. Doesn't that sound awesome?! My childhood neighbor and I have already agreed that when we get to be middle-aged, we're going to live next door to each other and drink wine every day and assemble a rag-tag group of hilarious friends to enable our drinking habits. Jealous yet?
7. They commit to their bits. This show has some hilarious running jokes, like the fact that no one knows what it means when Ellie tips her "imaginary hat" (instead they respond with "imaginary opera gloves" or "imaginary clown nose"), or their occasional Truth Gun shootouts. How can you not be amused by the level of hilarity this show manages to achieve?
8. Sometimes they break into random song, but not in a cheesy Glee way. They do it in a quirky, funny way, and their songs are all original (to say the least). Any Cougar Town fan will confess to having had Grayson's ditty "Confident in My Sexuality" stuck in his or her head at least once (hint: it rhymes "sexuality" with "Mariska Hargitay"), not to mention Ellie's "Look at My Rings" tune. I would download the Cougar Town soundtrack just to put "Someday Girl" on repeat and rock out to it on my air guitar.
9. Years from now, when the world realizes how brilliant this show is, you can say you watched it before it was huge. Seriously, look at shows like Arrested Development. Don't you think all those people who overlooked it when it was on feel like idiots now? If you still feel guilty for not watching Arrested Development when it was on TV, watch Cougar Town and do your part to help save another amazing but under-appreciated comedy from getting canceled.
10. Do it for me. Please. If you read my piece on how hard it is to be a fan of ratings-challenged shows, please have pity on me and just give Cougar Town a chance. I really don't want to see another one of my favorite shows get canceled.
Even if you missed out on the first two seasons because you couldn't get past its terrible title (which they poke fun at every week on the show), you can probably pick up Cougar Town in its third season without a lot of confusion, so just tune in to ABC on February 14th at 8:30 for the premiere. Or, if you really want to change your life for the better, go buy the first two seasons on DVD, or just come over to my house and I'll watch them with you. (I am only 17% kidding.)
Follow Lelia Nebeker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PopCultureNexus