The Comedy Series That Is The Perfect Example Of Why You Skip The First Season

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

The phrase “skip the first season” often comes up when people recommend sitcoms. Typically, this warning is caused by a weak first season caused by any number of problems, from missing characters to a lack of comedic chemistry. When I recommend Cougar Town to people, I tell them to skip the first season for some of those typical reasons, but mostly because its first season has a completely different premise from the rest of the show. 

Cougar Town Starts As Cringey As The Title

Courtney Cox

The first season of Cougar Town, which started airing in 2009, was about middle-aged divorcee Jules (played by Courteney Cox) dating younger men. It was a sex comedy that made obvious jokes and focused too much on its protagonist and her newfound appetite for men closer to her teenage son’s age than her own. Between its cringeworthy name and premise, the show was an immediate flop with audiences and critics alike. 

Reborn In Season Two

Despite the poor reception, Cougar Town was renewed for a second season, and the creators reworked the show, abandoning the sex comedy premise to become an ensemble hang-out show. Leaning into the obvious alcoholism of the characters and their blatant stupidity, the rest of the show feels like a less mean-spirited version of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The show quickly morphed from embarrassing to one of my absolute favorite sitcoms.

Cougar Town Made Fun Of The First Season

The creators of Cougar Town were aware of the problems with the first season and often poked fun at it and the show’s terrible name. Most of these jokes come through the show’s title card gag, a feature that started in the second season and was often used to pitch better titles for the show. These jokes are the show’s way of telling the audience what I tell friends when I recommend it. Don’t bother with Season 1. 

Turning Into An Ensemble Show Saved The Series

Aside from changing its premise, the best change Cougar Town made after its first season was focusing on the ensemble cast. Bringing Courteney Cox together with Busy Philipps, Christa Miller, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt, and Bob Clendenin it quickly became an all-time great ensemble. While Courteney Cox is a great actress, Christa Miller, and Busy Phillips stole the show once their characters were given more screen time. 

Similar To The Office And Parks & Rec

While Cougar Town is one of the most extreme examples of a show redefining itself after a sub-par first season, it’s far from the only sitcom to do so. New Girl similarly shifted into an ensemble comedy, while Seinfeld, It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia, and Parks and Recreations benefited from adding new cast members.

The US version of The Office might be the most similar example, shifting from recreating its UK source material to creating unique plot lines and allowing its characters to move away from their British counterparts. 

Cougar Town Is The Best Sitcom You Never Watched

I’ve never seen a show where the advice to skip the first season is more well-founded than Cougar Town. It’s one of my favorite sitcoms, but the first season is genuinely embarrassing, with a sexist premise and unremarkable writing. I highly recommend checking Cougar Town out on Hulu, but do yourself a favor and skip the first season.