Cougar Town, “Cry To Me”

“Cry To Me” is unfortunately the last episode of Cougar Town for a couple of months. ABC was to line up Matthew Perry’s Mr. Sunshine and I think even Happy Endings in the post-Modern Family timeslot, so the cul-de-sac crew is going to be gone for a fairly substantial amount of time. No matter what, this makes me very, very sad. But after last night’s fantastic episode? I am even more sad. Sigh.

Anyway, “Cry To Me” is the series’ Valentine’s Day episode and amid all the hilarious gags and jokes, there are a number of good stories about what it means to be in a generally healthy long-term relationship but still have contentious moments over things like holidays. Of course Jules is going to make a big deal of Valentine’s Day and I’ll get to that, but this episode does a nice job of focusing on Ellie and Andy and also Travis and Kirsten These are two relationships that aren’t as dramatic as Grayson and Jules, but “Cry To Me” still finds a way to explore the little details that can make a specific day or moment go good or bad depending on the execution.

For Andy and Ellie, it’s all about the actual celebration of Valentine’s Day. Of course Ellie presents a front that she doesn’t care about the big, showy gifts of V-Day, but Andy can’t take it. He’s a showman for goodness’ sake! He struggles to come up with a good idea for her and ultimate just decides to make her jealous by going out on a nice dinner date with Bobby, penny can-playing included. This does not work, as Ellie hunts them down and chews Andy out for not recognizing that her diatribes to not celebrate the day doesn’t mean she doesn’t want still spend time with him. This is a familiar story beat, particularly for characters played by Christa Miller, but it doesn’t matter because she and Ian Gomez work so well together. The pay-off in which Andy tears down all the remaining Christmas decorations that were annoying Ellie and then burns them, is perfectly executed with the right amount of absurdity and heart.

Travis and Kirsten’s story gets the least amount of airtime, but it’s still fun. She asks for a sexy picture of him and so he spends the entire episode trying to figure out how to accomplish that goal. Laurie has some hilariously helpful hints and before long, Bobby’s taking the pictures and Jules even takes a few with Travis. It’s one of the most disturbing and absurd moments in the season’s run, particularly for Jules, but good lord is it funny. And even though the episode does not a job of keeping it a secret what picture Travis ends up choosing, the pay-off with a topless Dan Byrd jumping towards the camera with a rose in his mouth was totally worth the wait. Again, the story is totally goofy and weightless for the most part, but the joy in Kirsten’s eyes, even though that’s not really what she meant, makes it have a bit of emotional heft.

The A story with Jules and Grayson is, per usual, a bit demented. I and just about everyone else reviewing this series has talked about how Jules is probably one of the least likable comic leads in a long time and here she is again making a total mess of what could have been a normal holiday. Grayson just wants to treat her good in the most traditional of ways — starting with roses — but Jules isn’t having it, particularly after she learns that the day just happens to be the anniversary of Grayson’s father’s death.

It turns into this big ordeal about Grayson’s inability to open up and Jules creepily pushes him to do so in some fairly manipulative ways. But again, despite Jules’ inherent awfulness in forcing her boyfriend to cry and open up, the episode manages to save it at the end by having Grayson sort of meet Jules in the middle, first with the admission that he did open up — by saying that his dad “was pretty cool” — and then by letting her watch him cry while he watches Field of Dreams. Again, this is totally weird and creepy and unfortunate, but in the context of this relationship and this series, it works. This development shows that Grayson is slowly altering his ways to fit Jules’ craziness and even though she doesn’t really do the same, that’s okay. It’s a process.

Three stories, all a bit loopy and zany, but still with the right dash of heart. That’s the perfect kind of Cougar Town episode and I’m glad that this is where it finishes off for a while because an episode this good can sustain the two month break. I think. Maybe.

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