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Cougar Town Recap: It’s All About the Benjamins

COUGAR TOWN - "Money Becomes King" - Jules and Grayson can't see eye to eye when it comes to joining their finances, but they're both going to have to make some sacrifices if they actually want to get married -- and that is not going to be easy. Meanwhile, Laurie's Krazy Kakes business is doing surprisingly well, and Travis convinces her to make some grown up decisions of her own, on "Cougar Town," TUESDAY, APRIL 24 (8:31-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/KAREN NEAL)
BUSY PHILIPPS, DAN BYRD

Once again on Cougar Town, it is time to inch very slowly toward a wedding. In theory, Jules and Grayson have come a long way since the mornings when they would compare their previous night’s hookups across the cul-de-sac. They are engaged, after all. But in some episodes, like last night’s, it feels like they’re still standing at their separate mailboxes. They’re interacting, but you wouldn’t necessarily call what they have a relationship.

Whatever they are, Jules and Grayson have taken to setting Tampa/Jill down for naptime in Grayson’s bar, because she lives there now. The couple shushes everyone, encouraging patrons to join them in singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” until Tampa (and Bobby) fall asleep. Is there a human alive who can remain dry-eyed during a slowly growing chorus? I don’t think so. Afterwards, everyone cheers, and Jules and Grayson have to bring their child home in defeat. Holly, Tampa’s erstwhile mother, stops by while in the neighborhood to see her “boob doctor” and mentions that she keeps forgetting she has a baby. There should be a Child Protective Services branch that operates exclusively for the offspring of the Cul-de-Sac Crew.

Because she is Ellie, Ellie spends this episode tormenting Andy for not tormenting, and then later tormenting, Bobby. She thinks he takes it too easy on Bobby, because being nice to your friends is a sign of weakness. Andy responds by giving Bobby a “self-generating water bottle” that fills itself through science. Naturally, Bobby buys the story — helped along by the fact that Andy follows him around refilling the bottle. All is well until Bobby decides to go camping with the empty bottle [Law & Order music] and dehydrates as his best friend sits idly at home, his wife telling him not to break. By the time Andy shows up to the rescue, an ambulance has arrived to save Bobby. It’s not an ideal first practical joke to pull on your best friend.

Continuing her foray into the cake business is Laurie, who first enlists the unwitting slave labor of the “sad” people who stand around in coffee shops. She gets Tom to deliver a cake and builds her “staff” from there. Travis is, understandably, doubtful about the long-term sustainability of this business model, but sits by, dough-ily, as Laurie carries on. When her free employees somehow leave the coffee shop, Travis tries to encourage a discouraged Laurie. He tells her she should quit as Jules’s assistant and give the cake business 100 percent. Those extra 45 minutes a week that Laurie spends working at Jules’s ghost-town realty office could really make a difference.

Conveniently, Jules is already thinking about letting Laurie go. Because Grayson refers off-handedly to “our” money (as in his AND Jules’s money), Jules goes into a small tailspin about how to handle her finances. When simple retaliation tactics (borrowing money from Grayson’s cash register to pay Laurie) don’t work, she does what most people do when they have a question to which they know, but dislike, the answer. She asks everyone else what THEY think. Jules asks Andy, who looks over her finances and tells her that she should fire Laurie and rethink the expensive plaza property. This could be an easy enough decision, but Jules wants to get the therapist’s opinion next. Unfortunately, the therapist has answers she doesn’t want either: She thinks all healthy couples need to share everything, even money.

Then there’s the question of whose house to sell — another potential savings introduced by Andy. Jules and Grayson each want to keep their own houses. They don’t like the idea of reasoned discussion, so they consult the crew, who are relentlessly biased as ever. The jury is hung, so Jules drags herself and Grayson back to therapy. It doesn’t help. (Here’s another savings idea for Jules: stop wasting money on this therapist!) Later, after having avoidance sex with Grayson, Jules calls the therapist over to her house under extremely offensive false pretenses (she told the therapist that Grayson hit her) for the final word. The therapist, who has had it up to HERE with being sucked into this crazy person’s universe, sarcastically advises Jules and Grayson to set the issue aside and let their problems “fester” for as long as they can. This plan sounds good to Jules and Grayson, the happy fortysomething children.

There is one very neat solution to be had, however: Jules fires Laurie at the very moment Laurie quits. Laurie tells Jules that she’s the reason she learned to take control of her life, and it’s sweet. When Laurie asks Jules what she plans to do about the expensive rent, an almost literal thought bulb shows up over her head, and that thought bulb says the words “Krazy Kakes.” Jules leases half the office out to Laurie, who converts it into her unsuitably named bakery. She looks so cute behind that counter that I am willing to let the ridiculousness of a half-bakery/half-realtor’s office go.

Ellie attempts to terrorize her child in a monster’s mask — a prank with meaningful symbolism. Ellie knows she is flawed on the inside, but when she shows those flaws outwardly, will her family still accept her? When the monster within surfaces, to whom can she turn? OR possibly none of that is going on, and Ellie is just kind of a mean mom. Stan, an old pro, rebuffs her scare tactics, saying, “Mommy looks weird without her makeup.” Boom. Roasted.

So here we are with two grown-ups about to get married, who’ve allegedly never considered where they’ll be living, how they’ll be sharing their incomes (if at all), and what they will do to provide for Grayson’s daughter on a long-term basis. Grayson and Jules are a good match, insofar as they are similarly delusional, sweet, and neurotic. It is clear they like each other an awful lot. Their banter is great, but the things going unsaid between them make me wonder when, if ever, they’ll stop acting like friends (with benefits) and start acting like partners.

Photo: Karen Neal/ABC