It'd be great to see vibrant older women with active sex lives on TV; but from the looks of two (admittedly short) clips (embedded after the jump), Cougar Town is going about it all wrong.
Here are the glaring problems with what we can see so far:
- 1. The use of the word "cougar." It's clichéd, it's lame, it's undignified. It smacks of predatory desperation. As Salon's Rebecca Traister wrote in April, "How sad and backward that we have to give it a nickname, animalize it as if it's outside the boundaries of civilized human behavior, make it a trend, pretend that Demi Moore invented it. That's not progress, and it's not a step forward for women." 'Nuff said.
- 2. Bad jokes. From the tiny bit seen in clips below, Cougar Town is not funny! Courteney's character says to a friend over the phone, "Why so pissy?" The woman answers: "I'm fat." UGH. Really? Courteney says: "No, you're not," and the woman replies, "I am. I woke up fat!" "I don't buy it," Courteney says, and then goes to the window to look at her friend who lives next door. She sees the woman in a purple nightgown and deadpans, "Wow, you look like a whore." "Thank you!" the woman enthuses. This is just the beginning. Said neighbor is super reluctant to have sex with her husband. Ha? Later, Courteney's son thinks she is hitting on him because she is talking to him while holding wine. Hilarious?
- 3.Where's the empowerment? Courteney's character makes this speech to a male neighbor: "You know what drives me nuts? Your wife moved out what, a week ago? And you're already sexing up sorority girls. But nobody cares, because when a 40-year-old guy gets divorced, all your friends are like, 'Way to go, tiger.'" She's making a point — albeit one that been made TIME AND TIME AGAIN, that there's a double standard for how older men and older women are seen. But there's no new twist, new insight, or skewering of this double standard. Maybe it's coming later? Still, one of the rules of writing for the screen is show, don't tell. Oh, and in this scene, the man replies her rant by asking, "When's the last time you got laid?" Instead of kneeing the dude in the nuts or saying, "Right, because if a woman is angry she clearly hasn't gotten enough dick," Courteney's character seems to think that yes, maybe this is the problem. Groan.
- 4. Preposterous casting. Courteney Cox is 44 and gorgeous. Beautiful face, amazing body, and in possession of millions of dollars to designate solely for upkeep. As Allure blogger Erin Flaherty points out about Brooke Shields: "Sometimes an attractive woman is just an attractive woman." When you look at Courteney, do you think, "That's what a typical American 'cougar' really looks like"? When the male neighbor says, "Maybe what really drives you nuts is that you couldn't bag a young stud if you tried," you have no choice but to roll your eyes so hard they get stuck up in your brain. She looks almost exactly like she did when she was on Friends, which is to say: Hot. The only way a "young stud" wouldn't find her sexually attractive would be if he were gay. And even then, second base seems like a possibility.
- 5. There is a way to present older, desperate, needy, messy women and have it be funny — and it's been done, on a show called Absolutely Fabulous.