So, yeah. We watched The Cougar. We did it so you don’t have to.
“Age is just a number, right?” asks one of the Boy Toys during the opening promo.
“No,” answers Sheri from her spot on the couch and from that place in life that gives perspective. “Age is not just a number.”
Then Vivica A. Fox, the show’s celebrity host, tells us that society treats men and women differently. When an older woman dates a younger woman, “Hoooo! Heads turn and people start talking!” About this time, we start to wonder who other than us is watching? In TVLand, viewers are mostly boomers who miss George Jefferson and Andy Griffith. The Cougar show seems to be saying: “TVLand ladies, you might be old as Aunt Bee, but you still sizzle! And look at Opie now! Six-pack abs and a fauxhawk!”
The show continues, and we meet the actual Cougar, who tells us she's excited to live in Los Angeles with twenty “young hot guys.” What does she like about boys? “They’re very spontaneous.” That spontaneity, she adds, shows up outside of the bedroom – but inside the bedroom, too!
Meanwhile, my wife watches from the couch in an oversized sweatshirt with a pig on it, baggy socks, reading glasses perched on her head … I’m telling you, I’m about to go all spontaneous!
So, in the courtyard of an L.A. mansion, Vivica introduces the Coug to the boys as “an incredibly sexy woman,” which in TVLand means that she’s blonde, skinny, willing to wear off-the-shoulder tops and mini skirts. The boys step forward to impress her with their best opening line. The Coug giggles at each awkward effort, but in a nervous, forced way. Says my wife: “She’s regretting this.” Says the Cougar: “OhmiGod!”
Back when I first posted about this show, I asked what word would describe a male harem. After watching the young lions try to impress the Coug – with a song about being dirty, a military salute, a fake arrest, a yucky come-on about an Australian kiss – I know what word fits: Idjits.
Then the show shifts indoors. Time to par-TAY! The Cougar slams shots with the boys, who cannonball into the pool, argue, and try to win her by wagging their tails and drooling on her skirt. And I’m struck that instead of them maturing to her level she’s lowering herself to theirs. When Sheri and I started dating, I needed to grow up and start wearing ties to formal events and cooking with a proper oven. But in the fantasy of reality TV, the Idjits don’t try to be men; instead, they indulge their beer-pong selves as the Cougar channels her inner Cougette to join their frat party. When an Idjit tells the Cougar he’s a musician, she says, “I love music!” How she must look forward to meeting a short-order cook: “I love food!”
We watch, and we suspect that in real life the Coug is more mature and more interesting than this. We’re willing to think the Idjits are, too. At least we hope so. We know that reality TV folks edit to make people dumber and less interesting, and they edit to exaggerate tension and drama.
But we’re still troubled. “It’s like a bad porn movie,” says Sheri. I know what she means. Good porn movies are bad movies that promise sex and deliver. The Cougar is bad and promises sex, but this is TVLand – the payoff is likely to be a man’s naked torso and mood lighting.
Says the Cougar: “I feel like Eve in a garden of forbidden fruit.”
Says Sheri: “Could this be any further away from our lives?”