When I first checked out Cougar Town, the new ABC comedy from Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and starring Courteney Cox, I was a little concerned. The show was racier than I was expecting, and something in the tone seemed a little off. Apparently, I wasn't alone in that opinion — and apparently, Lawrence is listening. When he took the stage at TCA over the weekend, one of his main messages seemed to be that he knows he has some work to do.
"It's the first time I've ever written a show that I feel like I need outside input [to get right]," Lawrence told me after his session, adding that his staff now has more female writers than male writers. Though his wife (Christa Miller, who also stars in the show) and their friends provide him with a lot of material, he said he still has a tendency to see things from a guy's perspective — like a waxing scene he recently wrote that he said might have gone down the 40-Year-Old Virgin route if he hadn't been careful.
A number of the things that bugged me in the pilot have been reshot: He said the opening scene (which used to feature Cox and Busy Philipps's characters ogling guys at a high school football game) felt "like a cartoon" and has been changed, and he's toned down lines that make it seem like Cox's character couldn't get a date despite looking like, y'know, Courteney Cox. (Now it's more that — as a friend told him — "every single guy at our age is either gay, broken, or dating younger girls.")
To hear what Lawrence thinks of the term "cougar" and why he used it for the title,
Lawrence said he's honestly not sure if the term "cougar" should be considered a positive or negative word — "I’ve heard both sides of it, being a misogynistic word and a word of empowerment. I think it’s just a word." — and noted that Cox's character could, indeed, actually date men her own age. Also, women in the show are never called cougars, except for the "unbelievably big cheat" that cougars are the high school mascot.
About that title: "What we were hoping to do titling the show Cougar Town was set the bar so low that . . . occasionally, people would watch it and go, 'Wow, this is not as horrible as I thought it would be,'" Lawrence cracked on the panel. But, more seriously, he said that part of the game of TV these says is to come up with a "noisy" title that will make people take notice. He continued:
If this show were to be every week about what young man is Courteney going to sleep with, that’s the Samantha from Sex and the City show, and I don’t think people would respond to it, and I wouldn’t respond to it. And, in fact, it’s not the show.
I feel better about the show after hearing what Lawrence had to say — but what about you? Does the title bug you? Or do you think it's brilliant?