Cougar Town Season 4 Review “I Need To Know”

When a major change happens behind the scenes of a show, like Cougar Town switching networks, it’s tempting to want to pin the blame for any and all variations in quality on the shift, but I’m going to try and avoid doing that here. That is to say, I didn’t think “I Need To Know” was very good, but I think it was not-good in the way that the occasional episode of Cougar Town may always be not-good; there’s nothing about the fundamentals of the show, the relationships between the characters, that’s wrong. It’s just the percentage of plot points and jokes that end up working, is all.

So, let’s start with what did work: Jules’s weirdo relationship with her son is still as uncomfortable and funny as ever, and that first scene of “family night,” where they watch Game of Thrones and she asks, “Do her nipples look like mine?”, is perfectly funny. Also hilarious: the completely unexplained photoshoot where the men reenact the cover of Three Men and a Baby, which inspires them to grow mustaches, and the way Busy Phillips as Laurie delivers the “Fact.” that she just tacks onto patently false statements. I want a whole episode about Laurie asserting things are true like that.

But what didn’t work? Well, the entire plot line about whether or not Grayson is just “a little bit homophobic.” It’s a promising topic, to be sure, and could potentially be pulled off, but something about the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way. Not that it was offensive, but just that I’m always rubbed a little weird when a show devotes so much time to gay topics without having an actual gay character around. How much better would the whole thing have been if the person egging Grayson on had been an actual gay person, and not just Laurie?

Also failing for me was the entire “Ellie trains Andy like a dog” section of “I Need To Know,” which was just re-covering ground we’d already covered a thousand times with them as a married couple, and didn’t bring anything particularly new to the table.

All these things didn’t make the episode absolutely horrible. It’s just not a Cougar Town that I’m likely to remember, or recommend for others to seek out if they haven’t seen the show. Even the most dependable of shows spit out duds from time to time.