"She Doesn't Just Use Boy Toys and Move On."

Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence defends his show’s honor.

by Nanette Varian • Editor { View Profile }
Photograph: Photo by James White/ABC.

Is it true that you don’t actually use the word “cougar” in the Cougar Town script?

Yes, and I’ll tell you why. It’s on the title card every week, but I didn’t want people getting hung up and arguing back and forth about the connotations of the word. I think it’s an empowering word. Courteney’s been calling herself that forever because she’s a little older than David [Arquette, who is seven years younger than his wife, Courteney Cox].

We’re proud of the show’s title. And the word will have to creep in eventually because, yeah, it’s called that! But it’s important not to give the impression that this is a Saturday Night Live sketch, or Samantha on Sex and the City. We need to make sure people understand this is an ensemble show about a newly single woman in her forties, and the pressures she faces.

OK, so why’d you call it Cougar Town, then?

First, it pretty aptly describes the show. Second, it’s a very “noisy” title. TV is a small landscape, and you want to make sure people check you out. If we called it “40, Single and Back Out There,” people wouldn’t give a shit. On some level the title sets the bar low, so people will be pleasantly surprised! [laughs]

What older women do you admire, besides your wife [Cougar Towns Christa Miller, who is five years his senior]? 

This will sound cornball, but my parents are very young, so my mom was more like my contemporary than a parent. When I was 20 she was 40. I could have a beer with her. It sounds weird, but she influenced the character [Jules] a lot.

What are you afraid will be peoples biggest misconceptions about the show? 

That it’s a date-of-the-week program about a voracious, man-hungry woman who uses her boy toys then moves on. No. It’s about wanting to be allowed to enjoy life and have fun after you’ve become suddenly single in your forties, and not be judged for it. It’s about Jules learning lessons like how she can have her twenties again [after missing out the first time around, when she married and had a child]. Just maybe not two nights in a row anymore . . .

A slideshow of scenes from Cougar Town, which premieres September 23 on ABC.

And speaking of slideshows . . . Cougar Bait: 32 Younger Men We Love.

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