As much as the Cougar Town characters pick on each other – and can be insufferable people on their own at times – episodes like ‘I Should Have Known It’ reinforce why these imperfect people are so close. So far this season, the show’s put a lot of importance on Bobby and Ellie’s place in the group, as well as Tom’s non-place, and they intertwine in an amusing, heartwarming half hour about the pros and cons of the cul de sac crew.
The cons come in the form of some Cougar Town gender politics, with Andy and Grayson fighting against the constant rule changes, which range from legitimate (“lie shirts”) to the absurd (Grayson’s comments when Jules and Ellie walk in the room). It’s always funny to watch Grayson rebel against the crew’s rules and personality, but in a great twist, he turns the tables against them by turning Travis against his mother – and all it took were some Hulk Hands.
But the Andy/Grayson adventures are secondary to the important parts of the story, the best of these being Tom’s gold digging girlfriend, who Laurie and Jules spend most of the episode investigating (Laurie: “I have a degree in Gold Diggery.”). Tom’s been picked on so much since his introduction, it’s a rewarding moment when they finally let him in the house to have a glass of wine. In their fourth season, Cougar Town needs some fresh faces to include, and although the Tom material isn’t always the show’s strongest (it tends to be the cruelest), so hopefully there’s some interesting stuff up their sleeve except “pick on Tom while he’s inside the house” through the rest of the season.
This idea of togetherness finds its way into Bobby’s story, where Ellie tries to teach him manners with her snarky powers. It’s not as effective – Bobby’s regression to a man who can’t get a second date is a bit of a leap – but it reinforces why this crew is so tightly knit, and that Ellie is a person underneath all the ice. Ellie’s speech to Travis is a particular highlight, a rare moment of passion for Ellie – it’s nice to see her supporting someone besides herself or Jules, no matter how predictable the story may play out (did anyone think she wouldn’t get frustrated quickly?).
‘I Should Have Known It’ certainly isn’t the strongest episode of the season – that would be last week’s terrific ‘Between Two Worlds’ – but it continues the trend of this season to explore the friendships of changing people: Jules and Grayson are newlyweds, Ellie’s becoming a more caring person, Laurie’s in love, and Bobby is starting to grow up …. not to mention Travis and Tom being adding their goblets to the Cul De Sac circle. A funny episode, but not Cougar Town at its emotional best.
– why would Tom’s girlfriend steal his watch? Wasn’t he buying her everything? I’m nitpicking, but it stuck out.
– it’s hot dog teacher, not Hot Dog teacher. To the same effect, it’s big ass burgers, not big asperger’s.
– when Bobby announces he wants some hard, honest truth, Ellie comes running out of nowhere, and breathlessly accepts the challenge. I wish they had cut the line explaining she heard him over Andy’s cell phone – a sixth sense for opportunities to be brutally honest should be her superpower.
– Jules has a bag of bronze penises in her closet. Keep her away from your statues.
– Cougar Town is thankful to TBS, and doesn’t mind a little bit of synergy: Laurie calls the gold digger’s breasts Franklin and Bash.
– Grayson’s Tom impression needs to happen every week.
– I don’t even want to read the real-life Cougar Town fan fiction I’m sure already exists.