John Walker's Electronic House

A Good Reason To Watch Cougar Town And Community

by on May.26, 2011, under The Rest

A sad truth is that as RPS has scaled up, my time for watching television has gone way down. The backlog of shows I love is hurting me just to look at. But fortunately the convenient 20 minute length of sitcoms means they can still sneak in. Which has allowed me to see what I think may be the best pay-off in sitcom history.

This year the two best in the format are unquestionably Community and Cougar Town. The former has embraced such a depth of unreality that it’s been free to feature claymation, while the latter has found a groove none could have expected from the name and opening few episodes. I can imagine many would bounce off Cougar Town at the concept, but it’s allowed itself such a charming collection of characters, and so refreshingly, no turmoil. It’s decent people having a good time, without constantly lying to each other or falling in and out of love. The representation of a working, real married couple is pretty much unique. (There’s no forgiving anyone who complains about the title, since the show itself features a complaint about it every episode.)

But I’ve brought you here to bring up one particular moment in each.

An episode of Community recently had Abed completely change personality on his birthday. At the end of an extraordinary episode, he explains that he had a moment of complete terror after being asked to appear in the background of an episode of Cougar Town. The episode was gently mocking of Lawrence’s sitcom (on a different, rival channel, note), and I wondered if the closing titles would feature Abed’s appearance on the set of the other show. When it didn’t I wasn’t surprised – how could it, with NBC and ABC not exactly likely to work together – but still a little disappointed.

Jump ahead about four weeks, and Cougar Town’s season two finale airs. Rather sadly the show seems to have been forced to feature Subway rather prominently for a couple of weeks, which feels a touch tawdry. But during a scene with two characters having a conversation at an outdoor table, there in the middle ground… is Abed.

It’s such an extraordinary pay-off to a joke. A set up on one show on one channel in one month. The punchline in another show on another channel in the next. And as Abed described it, he panics mid-scene, and runs off the set, catching the attention of the regular characters for a moment.

Which is to say, watch Cougar Town and Community.


7 Comments for this entry

  • Rodafowa

    Did you also catch Laurie and Travis from Cougartown in the background of the second episode in Community’s closing 2-parter?

    Much as I’ve loved both this year, personally the third season of Parks & Recreation has been comfortably the best sitcom on TV, possibly the best show full stop. Adding Adam Scott and the frankly-unfair-he’s-that-handsome-and-that-funny Rob Lowe to the regular cast has taken it to another level.

  • mister k

    I do intend to catch up to them on DVD. I also think you should give 30 Rock another chance John. Its recent series have been worker, but the first 3 are just really fantastic.

  • mister k

    Also, random question that I have a feeling Nick asked you on a rum doings.

    Assuming you were offered dream job reviewing television, and imagine in this hypothetical world that it would eat up all or most of your time so you had to pull back from rps. Assuming money isn’t an issue here, which would you choose?

    (I’d ask this on formspring, but you’d have to read formspring. Thats right. Burn.)

  • Oddtwang

    Count me among the people who’ve been put off Cougar Town by the initial concept & title. Will have to give it a shot.

    John, if you appreciate the heart in that show I have to second Rodafowa’s Parks & Rec commendation (see what I did there?) – even the misanthropic characters are completely adorable, Rashida Jones is incredible and Rob Lowe manages to make a character who frankly ought to be extremely annoying a delight to watch.

  • Alex

    On top of Abed being a screw-up extra who shits his pants when he gets caught in the meta-ness of appearing in a show he watches, that episode of Cougar Town also had Sam Lloyd playing his Scrubs character Ted.

    I still can’t believe the Gooch left him. :(

  • James Campbell

    Here’s the clip of Abed/Pudi in Cougar Town:

  • Blackberries

    ..Amazing. I watch Community but not Cougar Town. Very pleased they managed to pull this off.