It took a lot of work — overcoming a clunky title, getting canceled and picked up by another network — but "Cougar Town," Courteney Cox's first big sitcom since "Friends," has reached the notable television milestone of hitting 100 episodes. But celebrations of the occasion — including a cake- and wine-fueled party on the show's outdoor set for cast, crew, friends and family — were tinged with an air of sadness, as even though "Cougar Town" is reaching episode No. 100, its series finale is episode No. 102.
"It's really sad," Cox says of the bittersweet nature of the celebration. "This is a great group of people and we love each other, and the show is fun and the writing is great. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — or twice, in my case." But despite the encroaching sadness, Cox knows how lucky it is for the show to make it this far, especially given the current TV landscape. "It's scary, too, because you look at other shows and go, 'Oh, that's a good show! What a great cast,' and then they get canceled after only a few episodes," she says. "It's like, 'Whoa, that's scary!'"
But that doesn't mean she's at all daunted about where her career will take her post-"Cougar Town." In fact, Cox has one very clear objective in mind: another 100-episode show. "I want to do it one more time," Cox says. "I don't have one, but I'm going to find one."
Coming to the end is of course a good time for looking back, and Cox is much more reflective now about the show and the struggles it faced because of its jokey title. "At the beginning, I think the title 'Cougar Town' was a way to kind of get attention. It was shocking. But then it turned out to be that's not what the show was about — not that it ever was," she says. "We knew what this was going to be, but people were turned off by the title of 'Cougar Town' because they didn't like to see me — Monica, essentially — going out with younger guys, that wasn't what they were hoping for. So it quickly became what the show was always going to be, but we just couldn't get rid of the title. We tried."
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Now, back to wrapping things up. In the grand television tradition of cast larceny, is Cox planning to take anything home with her from the set? Some sort of keepsake? "Mine would be probably a wine glass," she offers. "I'll take Big Chuck or whichever one I'm on now."
It began as an attention-grabbing gag: "Cougar Town," a show ostensibly poking fun at the trend of dubbing older women who dated younger men cougars. But the gimmick got old, and fast. Or, as co-star Josh Hopkins puts it: "In the beginning, you have all these pilots coming out, and it was called 'Cougar Town,' and people remembered that. If it was called 'She's Back!' nobody would've remembered. But then later, when we expanded and were something totally different, and the show finds itself and its legs, then it was a detriment in the way that people were like, 'Oh, it's just her out trolling for 21-year-old guys,' and it hasn't been that for 97 episodes."
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick