Two Funny: Why ‘Cougar Town’ Deserves To Match ‘Modern Family’s Ratings

by | September 21, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Fall TV Preview 2010, Matt's TV News, Modern Family, Ratings, TV News

'Modern Family's Ty Burrell and 'Cougar Town's Courteney Cox (ABC)

'Modern Family's Ty Burrell and 'Cougar Town's Courteney Cox (ABC)

This is a sad story about a very funny show. But hopefully it has a happy ending.

When their respective freshman runs kicked off one year ago, ABC’s ‘Modern Family’ reaped all the glory (and eventually a few Emmys) while lead-out ‘Cougar Town‘ was met with some guff.

‘Cougar Town’ didn’t come out of the gate as strongly, that is true. Hampered by its titular conceit – there’s only so much comedy to be mined from Courteney Cox (no sex-starved slouch by anyone‘s definition) bedding boy toys – it took time to find its footing.

As a matter of fact, the show quickly stepped clear of the entire “cougar” premise and deftly redefined itself as a comedy about friends (with a lower-case F) who are as close-knit and dysfunctional as any family.

That is Reason No. 1 why ‘Cougar Town’ is worthy of ‘Modern Family’s audience.

In negotiating the aforementioned transition, ‘Cougar Town’ got funnier. Make that a lot funnier. And this season’s first two episodes – one guest-starring Jennifer Aniston as Jules’ semi-ADD shrink, the other concerning Jules’ and Ellie’s respective “issues” with their sons – hit the ground funning with the same crackling repartee that made Season 1′s best outings truly LOL-worthy.

That’s Reason No. 2 why ‘Cougar Town’ is worthy of ‘Modern Family’s audience.

Reason No. 3: Both comedies have done an impressive job of establishing specific and entertaining dynamics between most every possible airing of major characters. Take ‘Cougar Town’s Ellie (played by ‘Scrubs’ alum Christa Miller), who adores Jules, barely suffers Laurie, loves Andy, perhaps privately covets Grayson, and is bemused by Bobby.

So why didn’t more people visit ‘Cougar Town’ last season? Specifically: Why did a quarter of the 10 million viewers who made ‘Modern Family’ appointment television flip the channel?

To hear some tell it, “It’s the title, stupid.” The words ‘Cougar Town’ suggest a show about older, tarty women trolling for younger men. On paper, it’s a bit more PG-13 a tone than ‘Modern Family’s. And trust me, considering the show’s shifted focus, ABC and series boss Bill Lawrence did ponder a name change… only to keep the status quo.

Personally, I find ABC’s 9 o’clock comedy block to be one of TV’s best (at least until NBC’s ’30 Rock,’ now paired with ‘Community,’ returns to form). ‘Modern Family’ truly has no equal on the current TV landscape, while ‘Cougar Town’ offers a slightly cheekier, wackier assortment of abundant laughs.

Are people changing the channel at 9:30pm to, what, learn the identity of the killer on ‘Criminal Minds’? See who sinks a souffle on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’? The audience fall-off is puzzling, but hopefully it will come to an end starting this Wednesday, when both shows premiere their second seasons.

Are you a ‘Family’ fan scared off by the ‘Cougar’? If so, why?