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After 102 episodes, six seasons, two networks, one very infamous name, and lots — and lots — of wine, “Cougar Town’s” cul-de-sac crew is toasting for the very last time.
Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel’s TBS ensemble comedy, which is toplined by “Friends” star Courteney Cox, says goodbye Tuesday night. Series regular Josh Hopkins, who plays Grayson, warns fans that the final episode is a “tear-jerker.” Still, Hopkins sees the glass half full.
“We had the perfect amount of episodes. We ran our course pretty well,” Hopkins tells Variety. With a laugh, he says: “It’s perfect when you leave and everyone still loves each other. I’m going to miss seeing those people every day, but I just think what a great experience it was, rather than be sad that it’s over.”
Hopkins took a break on the set of his NBC pilot, in which he was cast opposite “Parenthood’s” Monica Potter, to chat about “Cougar Town.” (Since then, that network has decided to put the comedy on hold. Variety has learned NBC believes the show can improve if put back into development, rather than be put in contention for the 2015-16 season).
When asked if he ever imagined “Cougar Town” lasting for six seasons, Hopkins answered, “This is lightning in a jar, and we caught it.”
He added: “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve done a lot of pilots and a lot of shows that never went past 13 [episodes], and a lot that went less than that. So to get on a show that went on like this, this is what you look for. I would love to find something like that again. You can never think it’s going to happen, but you can hope.”
Hopkins looks back and reveals his favorite scene to Variety, his off-set drink of choice and the show title he would have chosen for “Cougar Town:”
What was the vibe like on set the final day?
It wasn’t that sad, it was more just appreciation and love. There’s an inevitability built in with these things, and I think it’s more sad to have a show that you think could really be great and then it just doesn’t catch on or is never given a chance — now, that’s sad when that gets cancelled and it’s your last day — but this is more like a celebration of six years of being together and holding great relationships.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with series co-creator Bill Lawrence to discuss bringing the story to a close after two networks, six seasons and more than 100 episodes.
Knowing the show had to wrap up and say goodbye to these characters and relationships, what were the storylines you felt needed a little extra time?
We wanted to play the stuff with Jules’ father out a bit, not just drop it and have him living with them in the house. We wanted to play Travis and Laurie out because it was a tightrope — some people liked it [when they got together] and some didn’t, and we wanted to make sure they were still fun characters, not just some married couple. The main thing we wanted to do was make Bob Clendenin step up as a regular in the last year because he really earned it. But the coolest thing about Cougar Town was there was never any real burden because — intentionally — it’s not a show about shocking events. It’s not like Friends. There’s no end to Cougar Town, where it’s time for people to grow up and get new jobs and have babies. These people are all in their 40s, and they’re settled. And that’s why we’re able to tweak the conventions in the finale.
Yet in the finale, you did make it seem like people were growing up, moving on and getting new jobs. Did you think that kind of fakeout was risky?
We knew we could fake it! We knew, writing it, that if we followed it through and it was actually happening, it would be disingenuous. I felt that right at the point where people are getting pissed off and thinking we were actually doing that, we’d be like, “Of course no one’s going anywhere!”
Cougar Town co-creator Bill Lawrence has always gone above and beyond for the Courteney Cox comedy, and he isn’t stopping just because the show is about to play its last game of Penny Can. After traveling to SXSW to promote the second season of his NBC comedy Undateable, the busy executive producer was awake until 2 a.m. shooting a pilot in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. But the very next morning, he’s up bright and early to discuss the series finale of his wine-soaked sitcom, which taps out on Tuesday at 10:30/9:30c on TBS.
“I can’t do this stuff these kids can do anymore. They bounce back a lot quicker,” he tells TVGuide.com with a laugh.
After six seasons, two networks, a tour and lots of wine – who needs a movie? – what kind of a hangover will the cul-de-sac crew’s swan song leave behind? TVGuide.com spoke with Lawrence about the finale, the show’s loyal fans and how he really feels about the title.
Undateable just returned for Season 2, and now you’re getting ready to close down Cougar Town. How does it feel to be in the early stages of one show and at the end of another?
Bill Lawrence: It’s very weird. I couldn’t believe we made it to 100 episodes. It was kind of a funky journey. I think the question people always ask is, “Are you so bummed Cougar Town is ending?” Not to be cavalier, but it doesn’t feel like a big sad end because I’ve worked with the same people for 20 years. It’s the same crew and a lot of the same cast members and friends across shows, so the shocking thing now in my career is I guess I’ve gotten to a place [where] I really try to only work with friends and people I want to be around a long time. The show ended a couple months ago and we still all hang out and see each other. I saw Courteney last week. I still see some of the same crew members on the pilots we’re working on now.
#6.13 – “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” — Grayson is determined to prevent Jules from running her birthday, but will it be possible when everyone has major changes in their lives?
#6.12 – “A Two Story Town” — The entire gang pitches in when Tom reveals he has a crush on a woman. As Jules runs mission control, Grayson tries to keep Tom from saying something weird, Andy buys them movie tickets, Laurie and Travis set up a heroic moment for him, and Ellie and Chick mock the whole proceedings – all with disastrous results.
#6.11 – “Climb that Hill” — In the 100th episode, the gang takes on new personal challenges: Jules tries to read a book for the first time, Grayson tries to listen to his friends and remember what they have to say, and Andy tries to keep his hand out of a place it doesn’t belong.
#6.10 – “Yer So Bad” — Jules invites Chick and his new girlfriend to a dinner party, but her guests aren’t exactly who she expected. Travis and Laurie stake out a cupcake thief, and Andy and Ellie try to figure out who Tom’s celebrity patient is.
#6.09 – “This One’s For Me” — When Jules finds a bag of unusual items Grayson’s been hiding, she goes on a mission to learn his secret. Andy talks Travis into using a baby gift for himself and Ellie can’t stand that Laurie is treating Baby Bobby like an accessory.
#6.08 – “Two Men Talking” — Fearing that her dad, Chick, is lonely, Jules tries to set him up with Grayson as a best friend. Laurie helps Andy fit in with a cool mom group and Travis and Ellie open up to each other in the Winebulance.
#6.07 – “The Wild One, Forever” — After a hurricane floods the gym of a local high school, Jules volunteers Gray’s Pub as a venue for their prom, with the gang ready to serve as chaperones. Jules and Laurie try to have an amazing night, but Laurie isn’t feeling it. Andy and Ellie try to stop a gang of bullies. And Travis and Grayson help their high school counterparts win a girl.