BET­TER WITH AGE

The Good Wife and Cougar Town have a lit­tle more in com­mon than you might think, says

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FEATURE -

than fulfi ls the prom­ise of its premise, while the other – while not a com­plete dud – takes the easy route all too of­ten.

Let’s start with The Good Wife, which has a ter­rifi c cen­tral con­cept spring­ing from a thought-pro­vok­ing im­age: the sup­port­ive spouse stand­ing by a disgraced pub­lic fi gure.

It hap­pens all over the world, of course, but we’re mainly used to it com­ing from Amer­ica, and usu­ally from US politi­cians or pub­lic ser­vants who are seem­ingly re­quired to make a pub­lic plea for for­give­ness when they’ve been busted with their fi ngers in the till or some other body part where it shouldn’t be.

In­vari­ably male, this pub­lic fi gure will usu­ally have a wife stand­ing next to them, silently off er­ing their sup­port. But what would be go­ing through her mind, es­pe­cially if her hus­band is con­fess­ing an infi delity to the world?

For Ali­cia Flor­rick ( ER’s Ju­lianna Mar­gulies), it’s a sur­real mo­ment as her hus­band Peter ( Sex and the City’s Chris Noth), a high­pow­ered state’s at­tor­ney, comes clean to the me­dia about his part in a scan­dal in­volv­ing the mis­use of pub­lic money, some of which was spent on pros­ti­tutes.

But when Peter confi dently claims be­hind closed doors that the whole thing will soon blow over, the world snaps back into fo­cus for Ali­cia. And in a mo­ment that in­spires ap­plause, she slaps her er­rant hus­band’s face.

With Peter be­hind bars but looking to over­turn his con­vic­tion, it’s up to Ali­cia to re­turn to the work­force af­ter more than a decade in or­der to pro­vide for her two chil­dren and pay an ever-mount­ing stack of le­gal bills.

Land­ing a ju­nior po­si­tion at a law fi rm is a good start but while com­ing to terms with her new job and new role as sole provider, Ali­cia also has to tackle the sus­pi­cion, con­de­scen­sion and back­stab­bing of old friends and new col­leagues.

It’s a ter­rifi c part for Mar­gulies, whose nat­u­ral re­serve and el­e­gance serves as a bril­liant dis­guise for the rag­ing emo­tions Ali­cia keeps un­der wraps but can’t com­pletely sup­press.

Cougar Town’s Jules, a 40-some­thing sin­gle mother played by for­mer Friends star Courteney Cox, is an­other sis­ter do­ing it for her­self, al­though her ex-hus­band is a charm­ing dead­beat rather than an im­pris­oned em­bez­zler.

And her woes are per­sonal more than pro­fes­sional, with Jules be­liev­ing that her “ ad­vanced” years have left her ter­ri­bly unattrac­tive to the op­po­site sex.

And even­tu­ally Jules de­cides to em­brace life as a cougar, a mid­dle-aged woman on the prowl for younger men, much to the de­light of her friends and much to the cha­grin of her teenage son, Travis ( Dan Byrd).

There’s a good, hon­est idea at the heart of Cougar Town – that as the years go by, we start to won­der about the di­rec­tions we’ve taken in life and whether it’s too late to change course – and the show oc­ca­sion­ally nails that, thanks to some nifty writ­ing and solid per­for­mances ( es­pe­cially by Cox, no stranger to fi ring off a sharp one-liner).

Too of­ten, though, it re­lies on tired, tawdry gags that re­in­force rather than play against the stereo­type of the des­per­ate cougar. “ Why don’t you laugh at my jokes?” Jules asks Travis at one stage, to which he gives a re­ply that some view­ers of Cougar Town can re­late to: “ Be­cause they make me sad.”

Sis­ter act: Cox ( cen­tre) and Ju­lianna Mar­gulies ( inset).

Courteney

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