‘Cougar Town’ Boss Reveals the 3 Major Story Arcs of Season 4

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Showrunner Bill Lawrence is no stranger to rolling with the punches and preparing for a series finale more than once within his actual series’ run. With Scrubs, he had a self-proclaimed “crazy” nine-year run that involved receiving new seasons after being sure the show would be canceled. And now again with Cougar Town, he braced for an abrupt end only to be revived with a new season (and potentially a much longer partnership) with TBS.

As Cougar Town enters into its fourth season overall but its first for the cable network, Lawrence told Celebuzz that he was still making the same show and therefore hoped the same fans would flock to it.

“Look, if the same amount of people that were watching the show on the network were to watch us on TBS, it would be a great hit and success story for TBS, so that’s all I want, you know? I would kill to have a mass appeal television hit — Spin City was like that for a while, and it was cool, but I don’t know how guys like Chuck Lorre or Modern Familydo it. I haven’t been able to crack that code. So for me, it’s about doing niche shows that hopefully have a loyal enough fan base to stay alive,” he said.

Cougar Town always nods to its loyal fans nicely. When ABC pushed its third season to the mid-season schedule, Lawrence threw in a meta jab that had the characters celebrating Thanksgiving late in the year because their “schedules got all mixed up,” and they were worried they wouldn’t be back, all together, during that time the following year anyway. Season 4 opens in a similar fashion: with the cul-de-sac crew walking into Jules’ (Courteney Cox) house and breathing in how happy they are to return — only for Travis (Dan Byrd) to point out they were only over at Ellie’s (Christa Miller).

But once that wink and nod is over, Lawrence said that the season jumps right back into business (and wine drinking!) as usual.

Jules and Grayson (Josh Hopkins) married on the Season 4 finale, and the first chunk of the season, Lawrence said, would be dealing very heavily with their lives adjusting to their shared space.

“The way we have always written is we map out the year on two levels: episode to episode, and then we always say, ‘What are three major arcs that involve character dynamics changing that we’re going to follow?’ We always start with a mild one, because we don’t like to hammer people at the start. But for us this year, it was dealing with marriage [immediately],” Lawrence said.

One example of that is how “Grayson’s house has been refurbished, and we deal a lot with them trying to sell it.” However, Lawrence shared that the issue of young Tampa Jill is not one to really come up again on the season. Of course, the characters don’t forget all about her (an upcoming episode features Grayson being asked, “You still have a kid, right?”), but we won’t see Jules and Grayson parenting.

“One of the only changes we made for TBS this year was production-wise, we shoot quicker. We didn’t want to change any of the creative, cast, any of it, but the show’s a little faster, and kids are a production nightmare! Every time that kid steps on set, you have to add about three hours to your day,” Lawrence said.

Like Tampa Jill, Season 4 of Cougar Town will provide a reference to Nezzie again, though Lawrence was willing to commit to saying we would never see her on-screen again.

Jules and Grayson aren’t the only ones whose relationship is changing, though. Laurie (Busy Philipps) and Travis (Dan Byrd) will finally address a very real possibility of them hooking up in the middle of the season, per Lawrence, who noted that it “just felt like it was time,” and even Tom (Bob Clendenin) gets a girlfriend for an episode.

“His character’s a little more well-rounded this season,” Lawrence said. “We’ve de-creepied him to make him more well-liked!”

Lawrence brought up the three story points for the season, and while the first two (Jules and Grayson, Laurie and Travis) have to do with romantic relationships, he revealed that the third is more familial in nature.

“The end one you’ll see Jules and her dad, which changes a lot of dynamics in the show for the last five episodes, going into next year,” Lawrence said.

And we love his optimism on the “next year” note!

Cougar Town premieres Tuesday on TBS at 10PM.

How will you celebrate Cougar Town’s return? Tell us in the comments below!

Danielle Turchiano

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