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The Battle For Cougar Town: How Bill Lawrence & Kevin Biegel Became America's Renegade Showrunners

posted Feb 8, 2012, 10:07 AM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Feb 8, 2012, 1:49 PM ]
    It seems that Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel just can’t catch a break with the networks be it ABC or NBC. With Scrubs the collaborating duo got shafted by NBC. After the writers strike NBC didn’t want to continue the show and decided to end it on a Princess Bride homage episode. Was it really to end like that? Luckily ABC came to the rescue and since ABC actually owned and produced the show they let Bill Lawrence finish the series as intended with Season 8 on ABC. ABC even allowed them to do a Season 9 that wasn’t even planned, and it unfortunately failed to keep the ball rolling. Anyway, by that time Bill and Kevin already had a new show underway and it was the current fan favorite, Cougar Town.

    Everything was fine and dandy. Cougar Town got off to a rough start but eventually became that Lawrence/Biegel brand of humor we love. It currently trumps any TV show in terms of quality and writing. Courtney Cox got a Golden Globe nomination for Season 1 and Busy Philips won the Critics’ Choice for Best Supporting Actress this year. It’s just so good. However ABC did the one thing that usually kills a series, and that was time-slot musical chairs. NBC did the same to Scrubs. If a show is immediately suffering the slightest loss in ratings then the network immediately feels the need to move it around. So they try to pair it with a stronger show as a lead-in or make sure it doesn’t air opposite American Idol. Unfortunately the slot switching only hurts the show and loses more viewers who just can’t find it. TV isn’t priority for most people. Even though Bill, Kevin and the cast have been promoting the hell out of the show for months now on their Facebooks and Twitters you will still see an occasional “When is Cougar Town coming back” post from a fan. Most people don’t go out of their way unless you’re a super fan like me. 

    So, after an amazing Season 2 with a two-parter finale in Hawaii that was reminiscent of when Scrubs went to the Bahamas something weird happened. Cougar Town disappeared. ABC released their Fall 2011 primetime schedule and Cougar Town was nowhere to be seen. Okay, big whoop so we have to wait till midseason. It’s a bit of a slap in the face, but who cares. When the mideason schedule was released and Cougar Town was absent the fans started talking. Was it cancelled? ABC assured everyone it wasn’t. So what was the deal? Then Bill Lawrence proceeded to do something no show runner has ever done. He took matters into his own hands.

    Bill and the team with the power of technology known as Twitter took to the web and began setting up viewing parties nationwide. They weren’t going to sit back and watch their show die; they had to keep interest in the show. First order of business was crashing the TCA’s. ABC didn’t set up a Cougar Town panel for the yearly Television Critics Association get together in Pasadena so the gang rented out a hotel nearby and invited all the critics to come party with them. Bill Lawrence and the gang then set up free viewing parties nationwide for fans. The cast and writers flew out to cities everywhere and hosted parties that included free booze, penny can tournies, Q&A’s, and a sneak peek at season 3. I attended the one in LA and was treated to a tour of their sets. writers room, got to play penny can with Bill Lawrence, chat and meet with the cast and watch some Cougar Town episodes with other fans. It was a blast to say the least. Just to meet my inspiration for being a writer was amazing let alone play penny can with him!

    A few days after that party it was announced that ABC had cancelled the brilliant and tasteful Work It after 2 episodes thus creating an open slot. Cougar Town filled the slot and the show finally had an air-date. The premiere was set for Febuary 14th, which was Valentine’s Day. A day where everyone stays in and watches
TV, right? Anyway, Cougar Town is back and even though the season has been shortened we finally have the best comedy on TV again. Now the fate of the show rests on the fans. Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel and everyone at Doozer (Lawrence's production company) has done everything they can. If you don’t watch the show then there won’t be a season 4. Think of it as Gladiator. If you win the crowd you win your freedom. Even though the evidence is overwhelming that ABC cares nothing for this beautiful baby they have. They won’t throw it in the dumpster if millions of people do love it. So give the show a chance if you’re not already on this awesome bandwagon. Everyone knows the show’s title is dumb, and the writers know it too. By the way, this is a 24-year old guy writing this. Yeah, I love it. I got my two male roommates hooked on it too. It’s not a chick show; it’s an awesome show with real characters and the most natural writing you will find. You get the same euphoria from Cougar Town that you get from doing something really fun with your core group of best friends. You have the laughs, the tears, the pleasure, the pain and everything in between. It’s the same reason why Scrubs was so amazing. Bill and Kevin have crafted one of the few pleasures I have in life and the show continues to be an inspiration to me as an aspiring screenwriter. So, just watch a damn episode and if you don’t like it then don’t watch it ever again. But I’m willing to bet you will like it. Feburary 14th at 8:30pm. Tune in or DVR it.