Series finale review: 'Cougar Town' - 'Mary Jane's Last Dance': Sunshine state of mind
A quick review of the "Cougar Town" series finale coming up just as soon as I find a science-y way for you to live in my blood...
When this final season began, I said that I wasn't going to be reviewing episodes weekly (just as I hadn't the year before), but that I intended to keep watching. And then... I didn't. The episodes would sit on my DVR, and there would always be something I felt was more urgent, either from a professional or personal standpoint, and I couldn't shake the feeling that this particular group of characters had largely outlived their usefulness, especially once Kevin Biegel and Bill Lawrence moved on to other things. After a while, I just decided I would come back to see what the creators had in store for the finale itself.
"Mary Jane's Last Dance" — an appropriate final Tom Petty song title, and one I imagine they've always been saving for this moment — went through the necessary beats for a farewell, including one last "change approved," one last game of Penny Can, one last giant wine glass, one final Bobby appearance (albeit via tablet, which was awkward), and a title card gag acknowledging that "Sunshine State" (or, really, anything) would have been a better title from the get-go. But it also felt too Jules-centric for a show that was always at its best as a big, messy, ensemble comedy. A day of the other characters kissing up to Jules seems exactly like the kind of birthday present she would love, but it didn't feel like the ideal closing note for a show that began as a Courteney Cox vehicle before quickly evolving into something much more generous.
That said, it's funny that Lawrence told me he doesn't think a long-running comedy could get away with doing a series finale that's just another regular episode (the last notable one to do so was "Everybody Loves Raymond"), when that's essentially what he and Biegel did. Though everyone talks of leaving, it's all a prank on Jules, and the last scene acknowledges that a group of friends of a certain age (plus Laurie and Travis, who are honorarily aged up into the Cul-de-Sac Crew) would be unlikely to experience major life changes for quite some time.
In hindsight, the beachside wedding is probably where the show should have ended. (That and the Penny Can can in my kids' playroom are the two parts of the show that will stick with me the longest.) But the TBS seasons had their moments, and I appreciate that a show this goofy and warm was able to transcend its stupid title and stupider original premise to last six seasons.
So crack open the wine and tell me, what did everybody else think?