Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Cougar Town Recap: Baby On Board

COUGAR TOWN - "Something Big" - Just as Jules is trying to work through Grayson's "baggage" from his wild single days, a chance encounter with a former fling, Holly (guest star Briga Heelan), ends with him learning that he's the father of a one-year-old baby girl he never knew he had, on "Cougar Town," TUESDAY, MARCH 20 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. (ABC/JORDIN ALTHAUS)
COURTENEY COX, JOSH HOPKINS

Well, that was not the way I was expecting Cougar Town to resolve the tension between Grayson’s wanting to have a child and Jules’s reluctance (and potential biological incapability) to do so. Grayson already HAS a baby, apparently! Just not with Jules. It’s not totally surprising, I guess, when one considers the sheer probability in the numbers of young ladies Grayson spent time with prior to his relationship with Jules, and it’s not the worst possible thing ever to happen, but everyone reacted SO STRANGELY to this development! Seriously, it was bizarre. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

In the simplest area of conflict resolution presented this week, Ellie learns how to surf. I wouldn’t have pegged her for someone who voluntarily gets wet, but that lady can be full of surprises. She mostly likes sitting on a surfboard out in the water for her alone time. Normally I’d advise against this type of risky behavior, but sharks probably fear Ellie instead of the other way around. Bobby offers to teach her the real deal, and though she proves a reluctant student at first, Angie (oh yeah, her!) convinces him to give it an earnest try. They all hang out on the boat to talk about this, in front of a green screen, and I don’t mean Travis’s good one. It works out in the end — Ellie becomes great at it almost instantly, and the show closes with Grayson singing a song in their honor. “Bobby and Ellie, they like to surf” may not be the greatest of lyrical achievements, but I’m in favor of the partnership it honors.

While having their regularly scheduled three-hour coffee break from never working, Jules rightly calls her fiancé a “ho-bag” and yells out his name in the plaza to prove her point — upon doing so, a peppy young blonde pops up to say hello and ask if she left anything at Grayson’s place back when they were hooking up. It seems Grayson has a “Lost and Found Bang Box” where he keeps his guests’ misplaced personal affects. There are a lot of crucifix necklaces and one bottle of anti-psychotic drugs, as well as Laurie’s bra. Oops! She forgets that they used to hook up, and so do I. Side note: With the way things are looking between her and Travis, and they hook up, it will be like Laurie hooked up with Jules’s husband and son. Gross! For so many reasons, gross.

It seems only yesterday that I was pleading to the Internet, with all of the zero weight I pull with ABC and the already written story lines of Cougar Town, to please not let Laurie and Travis ever become a THING. And yet here we are, step-dancing our way into hell together. Laurie is very attached to Travis in this episode, asking him out to lunch because she doesn’t “have anyone to flirt with” and later attempting to use her Laurie wiles to get Travis to participate in his roommate’s fraternity step-dance performance, just to see if she can.

When it was time to get him back to the mainland and back on track with his life, Laurie using Travis’s crush on her to get what she wanted was acceptable and maybe even noble. Now it’s just uncomfortable, and Travis tells her so. It’s no fun being flirted with when you know that nothing can ever happen. The look on Laurie’s face at that moment makes me believe Travis is wrong there, even though I so hope he isn’t. Their age difference isn’t large in real life — he’s 26 (oh my God, Dan Byrd is one year older than me somehow) and she’s 32 — but their characters must be, what, 19 and 26ish? I just don’t see any way for this to happen in a non-icky way. There have to be some members of the Cul-de-Sac Crew who aren’t romantically intertwined with one another. And don’t even tell me, “Well, there’s Tom!” He doesn’t count, no matter how useful he has become with neighborhood medical services now that we know he’s a doctor.

Before Jules has any idea about the real, baby-weight baggage about to be brought into their relationship, she and Grayson head to marriage counseling together. Afterwards, Grayson steals the therapist’s notebook so the couple can find out whether or not they’ve gotten psychological approval. Though they’re both (adorably) narcissistic, they are deemed a compatible pair, and everything seems swell, right up until Holly (the peppy blonde) shows up to announce that Grayson has a baby, and it’s the one she gave birth to. So I guess this is the week when we learn that women will tell you they’re on birth control but they will be lying. (SOMEONE wasn’t keeping that aspirin between her knees, am I right, ladies??) Holly’s announcement is followed by this bizarre nineties DRAMATIC MOMENT music — very Boy Meets World — and I can’t tell if it was supposed to be funny or not.

This, actually, is the main problem I have with the way this news was delivered: Nobody else seems to know if it’s supposed to be funny or not, either. Jules’s reaction wasn’t so much a real anger or even a real confusion — it was a comedy-mad that wasn’t actually funny. In cartoon form, her eyes would have leapt out of her head, accompanied by a “BOIOIOING” sound and steam coming out of her ears. I know this show is a comedy. But if the man you’re about to marry is suddenly revealed to have fathered a child with someone he hardly knows, I think it is okay to be actually upset about this! At least at first. Instead, everyone weirdly keeps telling Jules that she’s overreacting. Ellie tells her the situation is “perfect” because now they both get what they want: Grayson has a baby, so she doesn’t have to. This is crazy talking. There should be some gradation in emotional acceptance allowed here, but nobody lets Jules have it, not even her therapist.

So Jules goes to pick up Grayson’s baby from Holly, who hands her off despite not really knowing who Jules is. (Uh-oh! Bad wild young mom trope alert!) Jules has decided that Ellie is right — her new situation is perfect. And you know what? It might turn out to be. I won’t rule that out. In twenty years, when little Tampa (yes, that’s her name) is 21 and Stan is, like, 35 (he has some rapid-aging thing I think), they can get married and keep the Cul-de-Sac incest — I mean, love nest right on going. Plus, she is awfully cute.

Photo: Jordin Althaus/ABC