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Cougar Town Recap: Family Ties

Lots of family in town this week. Jules's dad is back to drop some common sense; Andy's family comes to visit, led by his flirty sister-in-law (played by Ian Gomez's real-life wife and My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos); there's a through story about Jules overmothering everyone, including her boyfriend; and Laurie and Ellie finally declare their love for one another, because over on the cul de sac, friends matter as much as family — especially friends who will love you even after you make fun of their obese toes. Plus, the title card this week was a real charmer: "We Pretend … Cougar Town … Is Called Wine Time." Certainly, that would be more accurate.

Travis is moping around in the dark because he just asked a girl to marry him and she said no. Jules is coddling him, and Bobby and grandpa want to take him to a strip club, because, well, there are boobs there. The two grown men sneak Travis out of the house and Jules inevitably crashes the party. The stripper, predictably, is a self-medicating sad sack; Travis pours his heart out to her and splits, while his parents get in a serious fight. A really serious fight. Bobby yells at Jules for being so overly protective Travis can't handle it when anything goes wrong. Jules yells back that just because Bobby has been an okay parent for the last two years, it doesn't make up for him being a bad parent for the seventeen before that. Ouch. The two don't speak for a whole four minutes (though Bobby does find time to compliment Jules's rack: "One boob is great, and the other is perfect") until grandpa explains that they're not really mad at each other, they're just upset they can't fix things for Travis. Their story line ends with them looking on as Travis sleeps, sharing a glass of wine, having temporarily patched up a fight they're going to be having for the rest of their lives.

In other family dramas, Andy wants Ellie to relent and let his brother and wife stay at the house. Ellie points out that Andy hates his brother, who will only speak Spanish to Andy, out of anger that Andy never learned it himself. This particular joke gives everyone on the cast a chance to speak Spanish — everyone knows Spanish, but Andy — which means we have now all heard one of the worst Spanish accents ever aired in prime time: Take a bow, Courteney Cox! Jules tells Ellie she, gasp, agrees with Andy, and his family comes to stay. Turns out the brother is not the problem, it's the sister-in-law, played by Vardalos. She spends the entire episode inappropriately flirting with Andy, and while there's nothing wrong with this story line, we kept comparing it to Parks and Rec's Ron and Tammy arc, another pairing of real-life married people, and ... it doesn't really compare. (To be fair, what does?) Meanwhile, to cope with her horrible sister-in-law, Ellie takes to insulting Laurie to "let her mean out." Laurie doesn't like this, the two have a conversation about whether they're really friends without Jules, and though it's not exactly decided in the affirmative, Laurie returns for more insulting because she knows how much Ellie needs someone to eviscerate. Ellie takes this as the sign of affection it is and can no longer be mean to Laurie. Aw.

And then in character-based plots dropped in from nonsense land, Grayson has turned into an overgrown idiot child, obsessed with Rollerblading. He's horrible at it ("A newborn calf on wheels"), and Jules nags him constantly to wear his knee pads and also cleans up his bruises. While he's playing street hockey, Jules calls him to come meet her at the strip club. Grayson takes off on a trek to meet her there, and en route, bumps into an adorable little boy who looks exactly like he did when he was young. Grayson and the kid are super cute together — more foreshadowing of the rapidly approaching "Grayson wants to be a dad so much he has to break up with Jules" plot — but Grayson starts talking to him about how he wishes "just once" Jules would get how important ... Rollerblading like a total incompetent is to him? Grayson has gotten whipped so fast, he doesn't even long for things worth longing for anymore. This story line ends with Grayson speeding down a hill on Rollerblades and then making it back home, with Jules's full support, on the back of the golf cart.

And now for the vocabulary:

The putt-putt murders: series of murders that took place on a mini-golf course; body found in the lighthouse

The Age Dragon: aging

Death skate: Grayson's style of Rollerblading

Sausage toes: fat toes; or, what Laurie has

Weiner snigelettes: a delicious treat

Photo: Matt Kennedy/ABC