Cougar Town's cast and fans like to (viewing) party [Interview]

It’s been a long nine months since patient fans saw their last fresh episode of ABC’s endearing comedy, Cougar Town, and that was a big worry to the show’s creator and showrunner Bill Lawrence, who has been sweating over his show’s scheduling limbo for months. 

CT S3

Despite its dedicated fandom and critical support, Cougar Town has remained the red-headed step-child of ABC’s comedy lineup. A lot (including Lawrence) of the blame is due to its off-putting title, some to its first season growing pains, but being off the air for almost a year doesn’t help build momentum either.

Taking some lessons, he learned as a frequent tweeter and social media aficionado, Lawrence and co-creator Kevin Biegel decided to appeal to the show’s ardent fans to get the word out about Cougar Town’s continued existence, and then ABC’s last minute mid-season scheduling for the show to return on Valentine’s Day (Tuesdays) at 8:30 pm (EST/PST).  

With his whole creative team and cast on board, Lawrence and Biegel set up viewing parties around the country, offering fans a chance to email them for tickets to a local bar with open bar where attendees would get to watch a few brand new episodes from Season Three and hob nob with various writers and cast from the show. It was meant as an opportunity to take the show’s entire future out of the hands of ABC’s apathetic programming team and get some groundswell viral marketing behind the season premiere. It turned into a huge love fest for the show with the viewing parties selling out at each location and fans spreading the generous Cougar Town love to the social media masters. Will it save the show and give it the boost needed for a renewal? Guaranteed Lawrence and company will be chewing some nails waiting for the overnight ratings on Wednesday morning, but if the crowds of people attending the events, like those we met at the Philadelphia Party held on Friday, February 10th at The Field House Bar, are any indication there might be some serious hope for the show.

Dan and Josh

Actors Josh Hopkins (Grayson Ellis), Dan Byrd (Travis Cobb), and stalker neighbor Tom (Bob Clendenin) were all in attendance in the packed Cougar Town designated section of the bar. They mingled generously with star-struck fans and enjoyed their yellow open bar wristbands like the rest of us swapping stories about the new season.

We talked exclusively with Hopkins for a few minutes and asked if Bill was really serious about changing the name of the series last summer before they went into production for the third season. Hopkins confirmed it but said it remained because “ultimately in this new age of DVR’s we couldn’t change it because people would lose their season passes and that would hurt us.”

Asked what these viewing parties have meant to the cast and crew, he said, “It’s been nice because these fans have been very vocal about us being gone so that’s made us feel good. We’re happy to do this and hope people find us again. ABC has kind of pushed us around a little bit, but I do think that they believe in the show and they like it. We get great feedback from them but we’re caught in the way we’ve been shuffled. We hope they come back.”

Party

Two Season Three episodes were screened for fans: the season premiere “Ain’t Love Strange” and the fifth episode featuring Scrubs alumni Sarah Chalke as Bobby’s new amore and crossover character Ted (Sam Lloyd) and his Blanks a cappella band. Without spoiling much, the premiere was a great return to form picking up where the characters have been since the season finale. Jules spends most of the episode obsessed with being too predictable and boring for Grayson, which turns into a hilarious song that gets under her skin even more. Also look for a relationship changer in the last moments of the episode that fans will enjoy.

[Spoiler alert] We did ask Josh and Dan to tease what we can expect from their characters this season and Hopkins shared that, “Grayson gets engaged and possibly married. There are too many shows that do the “will they, won’t they” thing so how about the “I do!” That’s got comedy in it too instead of waiting around so I’m excited.” Byrd laughed and said, “I wear an episode for the first eight episodes.” Now, doesn’t THAT make you want to watch?

By Tara Bennett

About the author

is an author (The Lost Encyclopedia), a national entertainment journalist and a media studies adjunct professor at Rowan University. She's been a film, TV and pop culture junkie for as long as she can remember and she's got the old TV Guide's to prove it. Pray for her thighs as she spends far too much time at her desk writing or her couch watching what she loves.

More From Tara Bennett

Executive producer David X. Cohen talks to us exclusively about the end of the brilliant animated cult series.
Read More
Masochist TV: why do we go back?
Read More
Creator Bryan Fuller and star Hugh Dancy share some tasty insight on their brand new horror series.
Read More
2 Comments
On: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Great coverage tara !

Quoting myself from today's TVGA field guide: 

I'm a huge fan of Cougar Town and firmly believe it would have been a much bigger hit had it not been for its unfortunate name. Co-creator Bill Lawrence, I believe, was quoted recently as saying it’s a show about adult friends (as opposed to a "cougar" scouting about for all the young bucks in the neighborhood). It is that, and it's got a wacky sensibility and sensational chemistry that makes it one of the more special and unique comedies of recent years.

On: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Just mentioned over on Mark's review of tonight's episode that although I only caught the second half of the episode, I must admit I got a bit choked up (in the most manly of ways of course) 

Name:

Email (Will not be used):

Comment:

characters left
 

Featured Articles

Popular Today

 
 

Recent Comments

"Mysterion Rises" with The Cute Lord Cthulhu - South Park review
Actually, the birthing of Kenny in "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" doesn't necessarily conflict with the circumstances of Kenny's reincarnation...
Alien Encounters, "The Message": a hard to find little show that's worth the search
Mind Reading Technologies and Tongues Governments from around the world have been using mind reading technologies that can read...
Dog The Bounty Hunter, "And Baby Makes Three": revisiting an old favorite
i do like your show i wish can be your fan club i want all of your show on dvd please
Boardwalk Empire, "Two Boats and a Lifeguard": daddy issues
Are you looking for a partner for the relationship or for fun? Then you came to the right place. We are providing you the best dating...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I can verify Bear Claw. Good man. I cant vouch for the other participants. It is to bad society does suck so bad that this type...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
Lake Michigan is not an ocean. Has anyone seen my white dog? Lost him while hiking in Arkansas
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too also as well live on the island, I can attest that Dan lives in the ocean as he has for hundreds of decades. We locals call...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
It's funny because its so not funny.
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too live on the island and ISLANDER does not know what they are talking about. Dan lives out in the middle of the island with...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
this is not real i know that goat and it is not "doc's" its my neighbors goat. and by the way i live on the very top of that mountain...