Claws are back in

Courteney Cox hopes fans like her rein­vented com­edy, writes Holly Byrnes

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

COURTENEY Cox has read the scathing crit­i­cism of her first com­edy ve­hi­cle since Friends and yes, she un­der­stands it. But Cox in­sists Cougar Town is no longer the show the haters called shrill, des­per­ate and hys­ter­i­cal.

Heck, Chan­nel 7 boss David Leckie even called it ‘‘ s---’’.

But, like a bad mar­riage, Cox and her cast­mates are find­ing it hard to break free of those early cri­tiques.

For those liv­ing in a pop cul­ture-free or­bit, the ti­tle was meant to play on the con­tem­po­rary term for an older sin­gle woman who prefers to date younger men.

Play­ing di­vorced real es­tate agent Jules Cobb, Cox was meant to strike a blow for fe­male em­pow­er­ment.

In­stead, af­ter a maul­ing by the crit­ics and so­cial com­men­ta­tors, the term turned preda­tory.

‘‘ Be­fore it was like, ‘ I don’t want to watch Cougar Town and Courteney Cox get­ting on to a younger guy ev­ery week’ . . . oh, please,’’ Cox says.

‘‘ It’s not what the show was even then, but it did have a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion. Now we just don’t know how to get out of that ti­tle, we don’t know what to do with it. It’s ter­ri­ble, so we just de­cided to make fun of it each week.’’

The self-ef­fac­ing gag comes in the open­ing ti­tles, slugged var­i­ously with a ref­er­ence to the crit­i­cism, for ex­am­ple ‘‘( the badly ti­tled) Cougar Town’’ or ‘‘ It’s OK to watch a show called Cougar Town’’.

Cox is frank about the attacks, but grate­ful they weren’t too per­sonal.

‘‘ I was kind of lucky early on and didn’t get pum­melled too bad,’’ she says.

‘‘ They weren’t re­ally attacks on me. If it had been attacks on me, that’s when I go dark, deep.’’

For her it was mostly about the fre­netic pace of the pro­gram — a sig­na­ture of ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Bill Lawrence, of Scrubs fame.

‘‘ I’ve got to say, when I first saw the pi­lot . . . it seemed to go so fast. I was used to Friends pace, but this was just like zing, zing, zing, zing. And I just sat there and said, ‘ Oh s---, this is re­ally dif­fer­ent than what I thought’,’’ Cox says.

‘‘ Even though I liked it, I thought, ‘ This is crazy’.’’

A shift in that rhythm was timed with Jules find­ing a sta­ble part­ner in neigh­bour Grayson (Josh Hopkins), which has seen the on-screen chaos calm a lit­tle and a third sea­son given the green light.

‘‘ Even though it’s still fast­paced, I think we’ve slowed down. I think we all learn from our mis­takes and the crit­ics seem to be lik­ing it more,’’ she says.

Just don’t ex­pect Cox to play the rock, a la Mon­ica on Friends.

‘‘ I just want to con­tinue to have her be kooky, as op­posed to sta­ble. Jules may be the cen­tre of the show, but she’s just as kooky as her fam­ily.’’ Cougar Town, Chan­nel 7, Tues­day, 10.30pm

was never the show it was por­trayed to be.

False im­pres­sions: Courteney Cox says Cougar Town

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