Cougar Town/Scrubs Creator Bill Lawrence Has a Lot to Say About the State of Network TV
Cougar Town/Scrubs showrunner Bill Lawrence's candor makes you want to pry at him all day. Following a spirited TCA panel where he sat alongside peers from The Middle and Modern Family and riffed on, among other things, Conan O'Brien's liberation and Cougar Town's questionable title, I -- along with the horde of journos -- found myself racking up only more questions. For instance, would he really change Cougar Town to C. Town, as he'd mentioned offhand? Was there real benefit to doing a ninth season of Scrubs? And when is this fragmented network TV viewership going to vault a scripted series to the heights of American Idol? All of Lawrence's answers were provocative, and he also found time to wax optimistic on Conan's future.
"Cougar" is a pretty du jour handle. Were you worried, when the show aired, that viewers wouldn't look past that word's obvious connotations, which have been explored on TV with some comprehension already?
There's a hi-lo to it. The upside of Cougar Town [the title] was it got people to check out the show, and I think for the people that did, the show pretty quickly evolved into a dysfunctional family show that wasn't a bad sketch of an older woman on Saturday Night Live pursuing younger guys. The downside is I guarantee you there are still people out there who have never checked it out because of both the connotations of the word and what they think the show is. For me, I haven't decided if it's a good or bad call yet. I'm always straight-out honest. I thought, man, in this landscape, call this show something that people are going to write about. Any attention is good attention. Now I find myself going, "If I could figure out a way to change the title to C. Town," you know what I mean? So it's still branded. And could keep moving forward. So maybe someone accidentally checks it out. I can't tell you the nicest things that people like yourselves have written -- I'll read a review, we get massive packets, and I'll follow it -- and they'll say, "I was pretty predisposed to hate this, and it actually turned out to be something different." That's the upside. The downside, is I don't know if I screwed us or not, titling it that.
Would you really consider changing the title? Were you joking?
No, I'm not joking. I don't think the show is what Courteney imagined it would be anymore. She's not out trying to hook up at whatever young hottie at the moment. She's having Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family, and she's the matriach of this big bunch of crazy characters. Maybe Courteney Town? After awhile, a title just becomes a title.