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Courteney Cox has had a
checkered career as an actress. First coming to prominence in the music video
for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” Cox performed journeyman work in
various productions for the next decade, until being cast in the part of Monica
in the wildly popular sitcom Friends.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty much
been downhill for Ms. Cox since then. Though she has appeared in various movies
(perhaps most notably, against the smarmy Adam Sandler in Disney’s abortive
attempt at a Sandler-style comedy,
Bedtime Stories), her biggest part has been
the lead role in the disgusting FX series Dirt. In that show, which she
co-created with her husband David Arquette, Ms. Cox played Lucy Spiller, a
sex-obsessed editor of a sleazy celebrity tabloid magazine. As is typical of FX
fare, storylines focused on the bizarre sexual fetishes of the characters, with
occasional violence thrown in. Viewers of this bit of video detritus had the
twisted thrill of seeing “Monica” masturbate with a vibrator, exchange
discussions about bondage with her mother, and jump from bed to bed with a
variety of men. But apparently, few viewers availed themselves of this odious
opportunity; Dirt was cancelled midway through its second season.
Now, Ms. Cox is starring in
Cougar Town, a story about – you guessed
it! – a promiscuous woman. The twist this time is that Cox’s character Jules is
apparently hideously unattractive to men her own age, so she decides to pursue
less choosy younger men for her amorous encounters. Cougar Town’s seamy
focus on sex caused the show’s first episode to be named Worst TV Show of
the Week;and the episode of October 14 (9:30 p.m. ET)
earns the program this dubious distinction a second time.
The episode bizarrely opens
with Jules chatting on the phone with her friend Ellie. When Jules asks what
Ellie is doing, her friend replies, “Foreplay.” Indeed, Ellie is engaging in sex
with her husband while casually talking on the phone with Jules. When her
husband demands more of her attention, Ellie says she will call Jules back “in a
Meanwhile, Jules orders her
ex-husband Bobby to clear his possessions out of her house. Doing so, he
stumbles on a videotape he made years ago of himself having sex with then-wife
Jules. She snatches the tape away from him, stating, “You’d just show it to all
your friends.” Not wanting her intimate life with her former husband exposed to
the leering gaze of others, Jules naturally takes the step of showing the tape
to her friends.
But for Ellie, watching the
tape of her best friend having sex has bitter consequences. Unable to bear
comparing herself to her formerly “hot” friend, Ellie whines, “You know, I used
to be that young and hot. Now at night, I sit in front of that damn magnifying
mirror and pick at things that don't need to be picked. And all I see staring
back at me is a big pile of old…Your sex tape ruined my marriage. My husband and
I will never have sex again because of you and your stupid 20-year-old hot
body.” Furthermore, stimulated by her story of watching her friend’s tape (and
not, unfortunately, her Friends tape), Ellie’s husband Andy wants to make
a sex tape of the two of them. Ellie reluctantly acquiesces, resulting in the
following supposedly hilarious dialogue:
Andy: “I can't believe you let
me tape us!...This is very exciting for me.”
Ellie: “I know.”
Andy: “Is my back really that
Andy: “Is this in slow-motion?”
Andy: “Can we just erase this?”
This episode merely further
demonstrates the totally
twisted perspective Hollywood brings on the subject of sex
and marriage. First, we learn that it is totally unremarkable for
women to talk on the phone together while one is having sex with her husband.
Then we find that it is apparently normal for people to show one another videos
of themselves having sex. (One wonders whether this is standard behavior in TV
sitcom writers’ meetings. Do Cougar Town’s writers swap videos of
themselves having sex with their spouses, or sit down to a joint viewing of such
tapes over lunch?) Also, we learn that, as is typical of youth-obsessed
Hollywood, sex is only enjoyable if both partners are young and “hot;” longtime
love and emotional commitment mean nothing. Finally, there is a ludicrous
element to Cougar Town recently pointed out by Salon’s TV critic
"What makes Cougar Town so bad is that …even
though most of them appear to have been injected and spot-toned to the point of
being exact replicas of their 20-something selves, we’re still supposed to
believe them when they whine about how ugly and old and hideous they feel."
With Cougar Town’s
incessant emphasis on sex, it appears that Courteney Cox is determined to keep
remaking Dirt until it’s successful. For its treatment of marital
intimacy totally devoid of love, compassion, common decency, or common sense,
Cougar Town has been named Worst TV Show of the Week.
Parents Television Council,
Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The
nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting
children against sex, violence and profanity in
entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval,
and Family Guide to Prime Time Television
are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.